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The case for firing Rivera and the case for keeping Rivera

Jan 01 2013 10:52 AM teeray Carolina Panthers
I like most fans love to get on a bandwagon and ride the fug out of it. But with Rivera I can't seem to make up my mind I think we should do. Here is the way I see it from both sides of the issue.

Fire Rivera

Game Management: Let's be honest. The game management has been less than satisfactory. Whether it is choosing to throw a hailmary instead of attempt a 50 yard field goal at the end of a half, using a final timeout instead of spiking the ball with 30 seconds on the clock on the 5 yard line, or wasting timeouts because we are getting plays into the huddle too slowly the game management has been terrible. These little things that can be the difference between being 7-9 and 10-6. Rivera is still on a learning curve when it comes to game management and it is costing us close games. I think this can improve, but it is still disconcerting when it happens time and time again.

Lack of Confidence: One of the big knocks many of us had against John Fox is that he was stubborn and wouldn't compromise his convictions to better fit his personnel. And that is a very legitimate gripe. However, there is something to be said about a coach who is confident in what he is doing despite what everyone else thinks. When I look at Rivera I see a guy who is not confident in what he wants to do. For example, against ATL we were fairly aggressive on defense and Roddy White gets behind the defense and we lose the game. So then the next game we are in a similar situation against CHI what do we do? We go too soft in coverage and let them run slant after slant right down the field for a game winning field goal. When you are not confident in what you are doing you have a tendency to overreact and over correct when one game doesn't go right. Confident coaches stick to what they believe will win more games, and doesn't let the result of one game change that conviction (for better or worse). Rivera seems to be unsure of how to handle these game situations and therefore is susceptible to overcompensating when one game goes awry. This will also improve in time as Rivera finds his identity and sticks with it. But how long do we give him to figure that out?

Keep Rivera

The Scheme is mostly good: I like what we are attempting to do on both sides of the ball. We have seen what both sides of the ball can do. The defense was pretty good overall this year. The offense was pretty good overall last year (and the end of this year). So it seems to be reasonable to think that eventually it will all come together and we will be really good on both sides of the ball. I truly think that what we are trying to do overall is the right approach. The offense has been perfect for Cam's abilities (and limitations) and the defense is finally coming together and is an interior lineman and secondary upgrade away from being really dominate.

Cam's development: Cam is only 23 years old and is developing as a QB. He is also a QB with unique abilities. It has taken the better part of 2 seasons for this coaching staff to figure out how to best utilize those abilities. I think the last half of this season is representative of the coaches better use of Cam Newton as well as Cam's own mental development. Changing coaches at this point will result in new coaches playing with their new toy for another two years as they figure out how to best incorporate Cam's abilities into their new scheme. Cam is on the brink, I think he may have a break out season next year, and so I am wary about a coaching change that might stunt Cam's growth or delay his true breakout season.


So basically, I have become pretty indifferent about the whole thing because I think a strong case can be made for either firing him or keeping him. The new GM and JR have a tough decision to make, and no matter what they decide I will see the logic in it.

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59 Comments

:: before

I'm on the indifferent bandwagon myself.
I'm at the point now that I don't think he's the long-term solution, but if he stays another year then so be it.
The fact that we are 3-7 in till the month of December this season is another reason for letting Rivera go. In his first season we was 2-8 in till December and we go on a winning streak and finish 6-10. So this year we only had a one game improvement from last year dispite having a cupcake schedule in the end. That tells me more about this team and this coach. Maybe next year we can finish 8-8 and not be out of the playoffs before Thanksgiving.
This team is only competitive because we have Cam and Rivera knows how to coach up a defense. I don't believe we will ever reach our true potential with Ron as HC.

That said, I could live with him returning, but only if Chud is replaced by an OC/AHC with good game management skills (to help Ron in that area).

We go into next year with the same staff and I expect the same results as years 1 and 2. Flashes of brilliance, flashes of ineptitude.
We'd be the 8th team firing a coach though. All the good coaches out there will be gone soon if we don't hurry and decide.
Spot on teeray.

I think the guy deserves one more year to try and put it all together and get both sides of the ball playing as they are capable of. If that happens, and I believe it would, this team should be in playoff contention.

As for the game management I just think Rivera needs a coach with previous head coaching experience somewhere on his staff. Couple that with another year to mature and better himself in his own right and I think Rivera just may get it together.
Nice piece and well stated.

That being said, one of the biggest factors in deciding whether or not Rivera stays or goes may have nothing to do with coaching at all.

It may very well come down to the fact that Jerry Richardson has absolutely no sense of urgency and may not make up his mind on a GM for some time. By the time the new GM is named, the list of head coaching candidates may be a very short one regardless and the new GM may feel as though he has little alternative than to keep Rivera because the organization is already 3 weeks behind the power curve.
If we can slam dunk with Kelly, who can liven up the fanbase and possibly have more success with this team, then I would be perfectly fine with the gamble. I'm not exactly holding my breath for that, though.

Otherwise, there is not another up and coming head coach candidate out there that I would choose over Rivera right now. Give him one more season to see what he can do in a contract year. If he doesn't live up to expectations, then let him go.

We'd be the 8th team firing a coach though. All the good coaches out there will be gone soon if we don't hurry and decide.


This is true, but I also think the Panthers will be one of the most sought after jobs by coaches should it come open.

We have the pieces in place to be a playoff team right now, and we have a franchise QB in place. The fact we have lost so many close games will be enticing for any coach that wants to be in a good situation and win right away.
Dp

Nice piece and well stated.

That being said, one of the biggest factors in deciding whether or not Rivera stays or goes may have nothing to do with coaching at all.

It may very well come down to the fact that Jerry Richardson has absolutely no sense of urgency and may not make up his mind on a GM for some time. By the time the new GM is named, the list of head coaching candidates may be a very short one regardless and the new GM may feel as though he has little alternative than to keep Rivera because the organization is already 3 weeks behind the power curve.


This is my biggest fear. I'd be very disappointed.
Promoted to article. Nice.
"...but I also think the Panthers will be one of the most sought after jobs by coaches should it come open."
Not so sure about that. Jerry Richardson has proven himself to be pretty frugal and won't pay a top coach's salary. Witness John Fox in his last season in Charlotte only making about $3M as one of the longest tenured coaches in the league after all his years with the Panthers.
People made fun of Bill Walsh before he came to the NFL. Said his style of offense, the West Coast, would never work. His work transcended the game. Beliacheat went out to Oregon this off-season to see what all this Chip Kelly hub-bub was about. The Patriots then fixed their problems on explosive plays this year.

The common denominator between all three coaches is their attention to details and their work ethic for perfection. I'd take a gamble on it. Yes, in the NFL you only have 1 first round pick and the Salary cap vs the 17 scholarships you can throw out but I think Kelly will make it work in the NFL. I just don't want us to pass it by and be left wondering what if much like our Kickoff out of bounds in the Superbowl.

Rivera hasn't shown me anything more that many other coaches that are currently losing their jobs have. Yes, the defense is playing better, they played hard but it was against teams that are in as much of a mess as ours, minus Atlanta. Brady Quinn looked like Joe Cool in the pocket. Brady Quinn couldn't even hold Delhomme's clipboard. Clock Mismanagement is worse than kids playing Madden. I was optimistic coming into this year that if our defense was middle of the road we would make the playoffs. Our defense was better than middle of the road, yet the regression on offense was terrible. Why do you have to be on the hot-seat before you perform? Ideally you want that consistency all 16 games not just 5.
Pretty much sums up my feelings. Indifferent. Torn. Loved the post, nice job

Promoted to article. Nice.


Yes, very worthy of article status, kudo's.

"...but I also think the Panthers will be one of the most sought after jobs by coaches should it come open."
Not so sure about that. Jerry Richardson has proven himself to be pretty frugal and won't pay a top coach's salary. Witness John Fox in his last season in Charlotte only making about $3M as one of the longest tenured coaches in the league after all his years with the Panthers.


I do believe Fox was in the 6 mil. range

Not so sure about that. Jerry Richardson has proven himself to be pretty frugal and won't pay a top coach's salary. Witness John Fox in his last season in Charlotte only making about $3M as one of the longest tenured coaches in the league after all his years with the Panthers.


Fox was one of the top ten highest paid coaches in the NFL that season and the entire staff's salary was among the highest in the NFL that year.
Personally, I would prefer to keep RR for another year. He's done a great job with the *defense and from what we've seen in videos or on the field, he still has the locker room and respect of the players. The mere fact that they played hard for the final weeks of the season shows that they really respect him. I feel like firing Rivera would cause more problems. What we need is a better OC with head coaching experience. (NORV)

Edit - wrote offense instead of defense* - (hangover)
"Fox was one of the top ten highest paid coaches in the NFL that season and the entire staff's salary was among the highest in the NFL that year."

I'm not sure what your reference is, but while there are several lists out there, I just saw one from 2011 where Fox wasn't in the top 10, and I'm sure he didn't take a pay cut to go to Denver. Top 10 means nothing and is rather deceiving when the top guys that years were making at least twice what Fox was and some of them had less than half the tenure as a head coach than Fox.

Bill Belichick New England Patriots $7.50 million
Mike Shanahan Washington Redskins $7.00 million
Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks $6.70 million
Jeff Fisher Tennessee Titans $5.75 million
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers $5.75 million
Ken Whisenhunt Arizona Cardinals $5.75 million
Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles $5.50 million
Tom Coughlin New York Giants $5.25 million
Jack Del Rio Jacksonville Jaguars $5.00 million
Lovie Smith Chicago Bears $4.80 million
http://www.buzzle.co...oaches2011.html
I'll make an argument as to why he should stay:

1. Most of the poor decision making came early in his career as a HC. As he has gained experience, his game management has become much better.

2. A lot of the early close losses where results of things just out of his control. Yes, he should have gone for it on 4th down against Atlanta, but IF Cam had not fumbled, that call never would have had to be made. He also is not the one who let White get behind him for the catch to put them in FG position. Against, the Bears, he couldn't control Smith slipping on the route which resulted in the pick 6. It seems nothing good went in the Panther's favor during that spell (losing 13 or so coin tosses, not having the fumble against Denver called as the runner approached the EZ, not getting personal fouls called against the defense and yet the defensive players are fined for hits after the game, etc., etc. Again, he did play too conservative early which hurt them but he learned from his mistakes and the time management and play calling have vastly improved over the course of his career.

3. He realized his mistake with the option read on offense and while the changed took a little too long, he did learn from his mistake and made the proper changes.

4. The Panther's have finally learned how to win. Against the Saints, I really believe the earlier Panther's would have folded in the 3rd quarter. They would have tried to have Cam either run too much or throw too much which never worked before. Instead, they just continued running with DW and T. So on a day when Cam only completes 48% of his passes (multiple dropped passes), only runs for 34 yards, is not responsible for a single TD, AND throws a pick 6, the Panthers still win convincingly.

5. And finally, one of my major frustrations originally with RR was how sloppy the Panther's played. You could always count on a penalty filled game. And those penalties always seemed to come at the worst times. Not anymore. One of the most marked improvements I have seen over the course of the two years is how much more disciplined they now play. There are still penalties, but nothing like when he first took over. When you consider how many of the players are either rookies or were PS players, I think it is even more remarkable. Playing good, sound, disciplined football as team is the result of good coaching - plain and simple.

Given all those improvements, I can't help but feel that Rivera has earned a chance at one more year. It really would be a shame to get rid of him just as he got to the point where he needs to be. No one would get rid of a rookie QB in his second year after showing improvements just because he wasn't able to win the big one. It's the improvements and development that are important and under any metric, Rivera has delivered in that regard.

"Fox was one of the top ten highest paid coaches in the NFL that season and the entire staff's salary was among the highest in the NFL that year."

I'm not sure what your reference is, but while there are several lists out there, I just saw one from 2011 where Fox wasn't in the top 10, and I'm sure he didn't take a pay cut to go to Denver. Top 10 means nothing and is rather deceiving when the top guys that years were making at least twice what Fox was and some of them had less than half the tenure as a head coach than Fox.

Bill Belichick New England Patriots $7.50 million
Mike Shanahan Washington Redskins $7.00 million
Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks $6.70 million
Jeff Fisher Tennessee Titans $5.75 million
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers $5.75 million
Ken Whisenhunt Arizona Cardinals $5.75 million
Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles $5.50 million
Tom Coughlin New York Giants $5.25 million
Jack Del Rio Jacksonville Jaguars $5.00 million
Lovie Smith Chicago Bears $4.80 million
http://www.buzzle.co...oaches2011.html


Here is one link. He made 6 million in 2010 and the entire staff's comnpensation was also amongst the highest in the NFL

Some prominent NFL coaches who were nearing the ends of their contracts had their salary figures released. John Fox (Carolina Panthers) was in the final year of his contract and was to earn $6 million in 2010;


Read more: The Average Salary of an NFL Head Coach | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/...l#ixzz2GkHwQmF0



http://www.ehow.com/...head-coach.html




and another

Richardson ultimately kept Fox on for another year in what amounted to a disastrous lame duck season in 2010, later saying he couldn't justify to the team's shareholders to buy out the final year of Fox's contract — and those of his staff — at an estimated cost of more than $11 million.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.c.../#ixzz2GkIiSl00


Here is one link. He made 6 million in 2010 and the entire staff's comnpensation was also amongst the highest in the NFL





and another

which is why he didn't want to fire that coaching staff and hire another one. didn't want to pay for two staffs. didn't like it, but understood it.

I'll make an argument as to why he should stay:

1. Most of the poor decision making came early in his career as a HC. As he has gained experience, his game management has become much better.

2. A lot of the early close losses where results of things just out of his control. Yes, he should have gone for it on 4th down against Atlanta, but IF Cam had not fumbled, that call never would have had to be made. He also is not the one who let White get behind him for the catch to put them in FG position. Against, the Bears, he couldn't control Smith slipping on the route which resulted in the pick 6. It seems nothing good went in the Panther's favor during that spell (losing 13 or so coin tosses, not having the fumble against Denver called as the runner approached the EZ, not getting personal fouls called against the defense and yet the defensive players are fined for hits after the game, etc., etc. Again, he did play too conservative early which hurt them but he learned from his mistakes and the time management and play calling have vastly improved over the course of his career.

3. He realized his mistake with the option read on offense and while the changed took a little too long, he did learn from his mistake and made the proper changes.

4. The Panther's have finally learned how to win. Against the Saints, I really believe the earlier Panther's would have folded in the 3rd quarter. They would have tried to have Cam either run too much or throw too much which never worked before. Instead, they just continued running with DW and T. So on a day when Cam only completes 48% of his passes (multiple dropped passes), only runs for 34 yards, is not responsible for a single TD, AND throws a pick 6, the Panthers still win convincingly.

5. And finally, one of my major frustrations originally with RR was how sloppy the Panther's played. You could always count on a penalty filled game. And those penalties always seemed to come at the worst times. Not anymore. One of the most marked improvements I have seen over the course of the two years is how much more disciplined they now play. There are still penalties, but nothing like when he first took over. When you consider how many of the players are either rookies or were PT players, I think it is even more remarkable. Playing good, sound, disciplined football as team is the result of good coaching - plain and simple.

Given all those improvements, I can't help but feel that Rivera has earned a chance at one more year. It really would be a shame to get rid of him just as he got to the point where he needs to be. No one would get rid of a rookie QB in his second year after showing improvements just because he wasn't able to win the big one. It's the improvements and development that are important and under any metric, Rivera has delivered in that regard.


You bring up some good points and I don't wholeheartedly disagree with you.

However.

We were wasting timeouts against the Saints and against Oakland we botched the end of the first half by using a final timeout when we should have been spiking the ball thus limiting our playcalling options especially after the penalty that pushed us back.

Nobody remembers those things because we won those games. But those are the type of things that lose close games.

It didn't get much better. We just happened to win some games so people didn't notice.

We were wasting timeouts against the Saints and against Oakland we botched the end of the first half by using a final timeout when we should have been spiking the ball thus limiting our playcalling options especially after the penalty that pushed us back.


I disagree. I don't think those TO against the Saints where necessarily wasted. I think they came at times when there was some confusion on the field. Remember the OL was pretty much a patch-work affair so it is only natural to expect some communications problems. Secondly, they only used two TO's in each half so they still had one remaining.

Against Oakland, they only took two TO's the entire game so again, I don't see how that taking a TO was wasted.

... against Oakland we botched the end of the first half by using a final timeout...


Just wanted to point out that they only used 1 TO in the first half and they scored a TD two plays later.

Maybe you were thinking of another game?