The whole issue is really about whether or not Rivera will be head coach material this year not really what happened last year or the year before. There is no question he has made mistakes which have cost us games. He played small and conservative on defense late in games way too often, playing the odds instead of gauging the flow of the game and being bold and aggressive, particularly on the road.
This is why, until things change, Rivera has not demonstrated he's NFL Head Coach material during his coaching career. He hasn't done the proper research or homework (before and during his tenure) to learn the overall job, and hasn't demonstrated he knows how to make the tough decisions. He could have fired Chud at the end of the 2011 or 2012 season. And if he didn't, he should have put his foot down, as he learned to do after Hurney got fired and, when he realized his job was on the line.
It's been a two year learning process. Did the Panther hire a ready made NFL head coach, or an apprentice? Up until this point, it's been the latter.
He did put his foot down when Hurney was fired. It was too late for sure and it almost cost him his job. Again the issue isn't whether it was too little too late, because it was, but whether he has learned his lesson and won't repeat the same mistake.
The problem for people on this issue is about letting go of the past to discuss the future. And whether you believe that Rivera will learn from his mistakes or not. Whether you believe that the late season run was about winning meaningless games or was a team playing for their coach, everyone feeling the urgency to win games and prove they were a better team than their record indicated.
I think that Rivera will learn from these mistakes and while he might make news one, he won't keep repeating the same one of the past. I think the talent on the team will be as good or better than it was last year thanks to Gettleman. And I think we will make the 5 or 6 plays we didn't make this year that made the difference between a 7-9 team and a 10-6 team .
But I can understand others being skeptical or saying that history is the best predictor of the future. it is a half empty/half full thing. In the off-season, I prefer to be optimistic unless they do something idiotic. Like cutting Smitty or trading him. But short of that, I am taking a look see attitude but expect things to be good.