It had almost become a forgone conclusion that Carolina Panthers second-year head coach Ron Rivera was sure to be fired at seasons end. However, that was until the Panthers upended the 11-1 Atlanta Falcons 30-20 this past weekend.
Carolina not only talked the talk coming into to this heated rivalry; they walked the walk as well, easily displaying one of their best offensive performances of the year highlighted by quarterback Cam Newton, who tossed two touchdowns and ran for 119 yards with a touchdown of his own on the ground.
The win on Sunday was sweet and the fact that it came at home against the Falcons made it all that much sweeter, but the bottom line is that this Carolina squad is still 4-9 and dead last in NFC South through 14 weeks of the regular season.
Although, Carolina isn’t as bad as their 4-9 record indicates and fans that follow the NFL closely recognize that, it still doesn’t sit well with fans that had high expectations coming into 2012.
So, it seems clear that now deep into his second season as head coach, Rivera’s time is up. Though, nothing is that simple, at least not with the Panthers.
Carolina has looked playoff worthy in all four of their wins this year, but now intrigue has set in amongst fans as to who will be Carolina’s next head coach and make no mistake about it, Carolina’s head coaching job is very intriguing to all the top candidates who will be looking for work in 2013 as well.
Fans and those coaches might have to put the intrigue aside for now and let the rest of this season play-out. If Carolina continues to trend in a positive direction heading into the offseason, then don’t be surprised if Rivera gets another year to get this team back into the postseason.
At the end of the day, if your one who believes a head coach should at least get three years to build a winning team, then Rivera, after this past Sunday, should be kept on board.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1