Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera job security questions not new
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is no stranger to the hot seat.
Ron Rivera played in the NFL for eight seasons before embarking on a coaching career that eventually led him to the Carolina Panthers. His first time serving as the head coach, Rivera is no stranger to how short-lived opportunities can be in the league.
Before taking over for the Panthers in 2011, Rivera served as an assistant in some capacity with three different franchises over 13 seasons. Serving primarily as linebackers coach or defensive coordinator, Rivera went from the Chicago Bears, where he played, to Philadelphia, then back to Chicago before a stint with the Chargers.
It’s safe to assume he understands how things work in the NFL and even as coach of the Panthers has endured a rough spell where his job appeared in jeopardy. A year after finishing 12-4 and winning the NFC South division in 2013, Rivera and Carolina began 2014 with two wins before losing eight of their next 10 and enduring a six game losing streak.
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Many thought the Rivera-era was over then after just two-plus seasons but former owner Jerry Richardson elected to administer some patience and stuck with the young head coach. Carolina rebounded, winning four in a row and making the playoffs, despite a losing record, thanks to a down year from every other divisional member.
The Panthers have now lost four in a row for the second time (2016) since that season and Rivera is allegedly on the hot seat once more. After starting 6-2 and holding a commanding grip on the playoffs, the Carolina slide has them all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and in danger of putting together a winning season.
With games against Cleveland, Atlanta, and two versus NFC South leading New Orleans, the Panthers face a tough finish to the year. On staff changes are already occurring as Rivera attempts to right the ship and protect his position.
Veteran members of the team, Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen and Julius Peppers have all pointed to the locker room in support of Rivera. Ultimately, the players play but it is the responsibility of the coach to ensure they are put in the best position possible to be successful. For four straight weeks now, something has gone wrong.
New owner David Tepper has already said his priority is winning and being a minority owner for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization prior to taking over, he’s seen the model of consistency. Mike Tomlin has been on the hot seat numerous times but the worst he’s ever finished was 8-8, twice – never a losing season, in addition to Super Bowl championship.
If Tepper takes a similar approach, Rivera would be safe – right now – but in serious jeopardy of being shown the door with three more losses potentially on the schedule.