Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera’s December history provides playoff hope
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera has a history of finishing the season strong.
In an NFL world of coaches who are consistently changing positions, Ron Rivera has provided a steady hand leading the Carolina Panthers since the 2011 season. Former owner Jerry Richardson elected to be patient with Rivera who was challenged just four years into his tenure and the results have been positive.
After struggling initially with back-to-back losing seasons, Rivera and the Panthers rebounded for 12 wins and a divisional title in 2013 but again found themselves in a tight spot just a year later. Welcoming the hot seat, Rivera and Carolina were 3-8-1 with talks of his replacement already underway.
Richardson elected to give Rivera a chance and the results were four consecutive wins to finish the season, a second straight divisional title and a return to the playoffs – where the Panthers advanced a round farther than the year prior.
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The momentum carried over and the Panthers made a second trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 following a 15-1 regular season. Rivera turned the tide with an undefeated December in 2014 thanks to a patient owner.
Fast forward to 2018 and Rivera’s seat is beginning to heat up after three consecutive losses. The team fell out of the current playoff picture with their latest loss and Carolina is under new ownership in David Tepper – how he reacts to starting 6-2 and then potentially missing the playoffs altogether may soon be discovered.
One thing Rivera does have in his corner is a history of strong finishes to most every season. Since arriving in Carolina the Panthers have a 23-7 record in December and have only lost more than one game twice in seven years (2016, 2017).
Five games remain on the schedule, all in December, and if history holds true then Carolina finishes the season 9-7 in a worst case scenario. Continue strong play to end the year and the Panthers wind up with 10 or possibly 11 wins and a potential playoff berth.
Either way it puts Carolina back into the playoff conversation and guarantees the first ever consecutive winning seasons in franchise history, but if it’s enough for Tepper remains to be seen.