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Football Outsiders Predicts Great Things for Carolina

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Every year, there’s a surprise team in our projections, a

dark horse that we expect will rise from a losing record to
a Super Bowl contender. This year, that team is the Carolina
There’s a lot to like about the talent on this squad. Cam
Newton is a superstar quarterback going into his third season,
and his continued development should vault the offense
forward several notches. The defense features a potentially
dominant front seven, led by another young blossoming star
in Luke Kuechly, which should cover up for some question
marks in the secondary. They finished the year on a four-game
winning streak, which inspired hope for the following season.
For all those positive signs, though, there is one big weakness
that can’t be ignored, and for that reason we’re subjectively
skeptical of our objective optimism. It’s not the lack of
depth at receiver that has us worried, nor the shaky status of
the secondary, though those are certainly viable concerns. In
fact, it’s not a player that has us worried at all. It’s the head
coach. Through two seasons, Ron Rivera has done little to
show that he’s capable of managing an NFL team on Sundays,
and that will likely be the reason Carolina comes up
short again this year.
Rivera played nine seasons for the Chicago Bears in the
1980s and ‘90s, including three seasons as a starter. He was
an NFL assistant coach every season from 1997 to 2010, including
stints as defensive coordinator for Chicago (2004-06)
and San Diego (2008-10). The Carolina Panthers hired him as
head coach following their disastrous 2-14 campaign in 2010.
Since then, Rivera and the Panthers have gone 13-19. That’s
not horrible, especially considering the state of the team when
Rivera took over. Yet closer examination suggests that the
Panthers have the talent to win even more games, and Rivera
and his staff are holding the team back. That’s not just our
opinion, either. Unfortunately for Rivera, it may be the opinion
of the man who signs his paychecks.

In fact, Rivera has been fighting to keep his head above water
since his first day on the job. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has
reported that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson disapproved of
the hire, and had to be talked into the move by then-general
manager Marty Hurney. It didn’t help Rivera’s case when the
Panthers lost eight of their first ten games in 2011, but with
first-overall draft pick Cam Newton putting up stellar fantasy
numbers, at least the team’s fans had something to cheer for.

Then they won four of their next five games, a strong finish

that seemed to justify Hurney’s decision and raised expectations
for the following season.

Those expectations were dashed when the Panthers opened

2012 by going 1-5. The fifth loss in that stretch, a 14-19 fall-from-
ahead defeat at home against the Cowboys, led to Hurney’s
dismissal after a decade with the team. Three weeks
later, special teams coach Brian Murphy was fired. (Not that
it did any good—in the next game, Carolina fumbled a punt,
missed a field-goal attempt, and lost four yards on a fake punt
gone wrong.) With heads rolling in Charlotte, Rivera seemed
destined for the chopping block, but he survived to finish the
year. That was his first escape of the season, but it wouldn’t
be his last.


Hurney’s firing failed to motivate the club, which proceeded
to lose three out of the next four games. Once the Panthers
sunk to 2-8, however, they rallied just like the year before:
they won five of their last six games, including each of their
last four. Consensus opinion said this was all too little, too late
for Rivera, and Michael Lombardi of NFL Network (he had
not yet left for the Browns) reported that the Panthers would
make a change. Nevertheless, as one coach after another was
fired on Black Monday, Rivera somehow lived to see another
day. That four-game win streak to end the year had earned
Rivera one more season in charge. Not all his coaches were
retained, however. Running backs coach John Settle, receivers
coach Fred Graves, and linebackers coach Warren Belin were
shown the door, decisions that Rivera insists were his and his
alone. Whether that’s true or the firings were ordered from
upon high, the sense of urgency is clear: It’s win or bust for
Rivera this season, and he’d better win right away.





They predict 9-10 wins and put our Post Season odds at 58.4%. The biggest issue? Ron Rivera.


The full 498 page.pdf available for purchase on their site here:






Also, give some love to the author of the Panthers article:







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Oh and



Carolina used the pistol roughly twice per game, but they’ll likely use it more often in 2013. The Panthers averaged 9.0 yards per play from pistol with 67.7% DVOA.



A big "sup" to everybody that swore the Pistol was a college fad a few seasons ago.

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Over the past 3 seasons, I have gone on record and picked a breakout team and player. It has gone as follows...



Chiefs (Up from 4 wins to 10); Jamaal Charles (First year starting, 1900+ total yards)



Lions (Up from 6 wins to 10); Matt Stafford (First year without injury, 5000+ yards)



Seahawks (Up from 7 wins to 11); Russ Wilson (Wasn't slated to start, ended up passing for a 100+ rating)


I've nailed every pick I've ever made. I'm not sure I'm ready to pick the Panthers yet, because I almost did last year, but it might be time.

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As a group, Panthers safeties made less than 20 percent of the team’s plays, the lowest rate in the league. Nakamura is the bigger problem, a long-time special teamer who didn’t start a single game in four seasons with Baltimore before the Panthers let him start 13 a year ago. One alternative is former Raiders safety Mike Mitchell, the notorious second-round draft pick with the seventh-round grade. But after only nine starts in four seasons in Oakland (which has hardly been a powerhouse in that time), it’s hard to see Mitchell starting in Carolina either. A dark horse might be undrafted rookie Robert Lester out of Alabama, who has strong instincts and leadership experience with a championship team. Some draftniks saw Lester as a first- or second-round pick going into his senior year, but his stock fell due to inconsistency and worries about his 4.66-second forty at the combine. Of course, that’s .03 seconds slower than Kenny Vaccaro and .01 seconds faster than Jonathan Cyprien, so was it really worth worrying about?




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I think that Rivera is a very good coach, he's just an awful, AWFUL, game manager. 

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i said that same thing last week,in order to win more games Rivera skills will have to improve. good teams hide weaknesses while Rivera exposes them. and the pistol is a lot more successful, compared to regular gun, with the back beside you. out the pistol the RB is at 7 yards mostly but is coming down hill like he is in the I formation.

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Having the correct on field personnel and losing because of your coach is probably the worst scenario I can think of.  Please don't let this happen (again).  

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I just dont see greatness in our team this year. I think we might get to 9 wins.

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