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Ron Rivera gearing up for even better Second Year

Ron Rivera’s rookie season was a beauty. He game-planned Cam Newton into the best rookie quarterback ever and re-energized a franchise that was reeling after a terrible season the year before. He successfully changed the football culture at Carolina in one year, and has this group thinking positively.

“We really wanted to get guys onboard, believing in what we’re trying to accomplish,” Rivera said. “There are some very good football players here, and we’ve got to put more around them and develop more. We’ve got to coach ‘em up, and they’ve got to continue to have the type of attitude they have.

“I believe in everything I’m doing more so now than at any other time -based on winning four of the last six and playing the way we did, and being in the lead in 14 of 16 games. This group of young men gave me a real optimistic outlook on what we can become, and I’m real excited about that.”

NFL seasons tend to get swayed by last second’s heroics more than any major sport, because there is such a small sample size. The Panthers played almost every game last season fairly close, and it is not unreasonable for them to hit 9 or 10 wins and slip into the playoffs next year. The Panthers need to have an excellent draft to make this happen, but they have a high enough draft pick that they can snag a great player. Rivera is doing things the right way, and it shows in his response about what his favorite moment of the season was.

“There really were a lot – everything from the very first practice we had to getting to lead the team prayer after a game,” Rivera said. “That really was a neat thing. When we won the preseason game against the Giants, getting to say the prayer and giving thanks was a pretty powerful thing for me personally. And having players coming up to me and asking advice on certain things – that’s something you want as a coach, players being able to come to you with personal issues and playing issues. When a guy can come to you and talk to you that freely like a bunch of them did, that meant a lot to me.”

Carolina fans love to hear that their players are being coached, listening, and communicating well. Rivera may have even earned himself a one year leash after a fantastic first year, but he probably isn’t interested in a leash and believes this group can win now. Only time will tell.

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