This day and age allows little leeway for the NFL head coach to build his team from being horrible, graduate through mediocrity and eventually to playoff-caliber; even if the former general manager, since-deposed Marty Hurney, had saddled the team’s budget with absurd amounts of cap space devoted to a good-but-not-great backfield.
But that’s Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera‘s lot as he enters year three in the gig with no winning seasons to show for it.
“Its inevitable people are going to talk about it. It’s kind of the new vogue, who’s on the hot seat,” Rivera said this week, via the Charlotte Observer. “And I don’t think it’s fair because there’s only one person who truly knows and I think sometimes all the talk can kind of influence people. It’s hard for me to imagine that Lovie Smith is (fired by the Chicago Bears) going 10-6 and not going to the playoffs when two teams from their division go to the playoffs. Again, they made the decision they thought was best for their football team.”
“It’s just hard for me to imagine. It’s just unfortunate. Do I know I’m coaching for my job? Absolutely. Every time I step on this football field, every time I step in the office, I know we’ve got to do the best we can because this is a production based business. It is about winning.”
This is a nice way to handle being on the hot seat whether owner Jerry Richardson acknowledges said hot seat or not. On the bright side, Carolina stuck with John Fox through an up-and-down nine-year tenure, a length that is impressive in this “what have you done for me lately” age even for a good coach like Fox. Continuity will factor in large when it comes to the development of Cam Newton as well, though offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski leaving will threaten that.
Even with that obstacle, it’s a rarity that an NFL coach keeps his job these days after leading off with three straight losing seasons, which Rivera will seek to avoid in 2013.