The case for firing Rivera and the case for keeping Rivera
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.
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?
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.