Despite the injuries, poor start to the season, and mounting frustration amongst fans, the Carolina Panthers rallied to finish the 2012 regular season on a high note winning their last four games in fine fashion.
Their week 17 road victory over the New Orleans Saints, 44-38, more than likely served as a rallying cry by the players for their head coach Ron Rivera, who bettered last season’s record by one win, but more importantly never allowed this team to quit.
So now, as the Panthers head off into an offseason full of unknowns, Rivera’s future with the team still remains unclear up to this point.
Team owner Jerry Richardson made it clear earlier in the year that if Rivera didn’t end the regular season in stride, then it was more than certain that he would be shown the door.
Well, Richardson has a very big decision to make this next week. If Richardson were to stay true to his earlier sentiments concerning how his franchise finished out the year, then Rivera would surely be retained for a third season.
At this point it almost feels like Rivera should be given his due and a shot at leading this team in 2013. The players fought hard for their head coach down the stretch and never wavered in their overall support for a man they respect.
That respect is critical in the NFL and in any professional sport for that matter. Rivera has clearly earned it during his two seasons spent in Carolina, so it seems natural for Richardson to keep him on board.
However, the one thing Rivera has going against him besides back-to-back losing seasons, is the fact that Carolina’s head coaching job will attract the biggest names available.
The Monday following the NFL’s regular season has become known as Black Monday, with head coaches around the league receiving their walking papers and this year will prove to be no different.
Carolina’s offseason will most certainly be as intriguing as ever. Although, Rivera just made it a lot more intriguing by getting his squad to win in week 17, capping off a four game winning streak.
Robert Kester, Rant Sports Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1