Sunday, the number two seed Carolina Panthers hosted the San Francisco 49ers in Cam Newton’s first playoff game as a pro. What started out as a close game turned into a pretty convincing win for San Francisco. Following the loss, it is imperative to look at the future of the Panthers and whether or not head coach Ron Rivera should keep his job.
Rivera has had a hand in Carolina’s defense becoming one of the league’s best, that is for sure. But, losing a home playoff game as the second seed after riding so much momentum is not a positive way to end the season — especially after the last two seasons of mightily underachieving. Here’s some food for thought, courtesy of ESPN’s Trey Wingo.
Weird stat to watch: HC Ron Rivera has never won a game w/extra time to prepare: Season opener, after bye week, etc
— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 12, 2014
What a bizarre, yet telling statistic there. Rivera gets extra time to prepare and he loses — every single time. What does that say about crunch time? Key games? Big, important games that can start a fire within a team and strike momentum within a team?
It says that Rivera fails in those situations. With the inability to win following extra time of preparation, how will the Panthers ever advance in the postseason under a head coach like that? They can’t win a home opener. They can’t win following a bye week — an incredibly important point in the season where teams get a chance to make a statement heading into the remainder of the season.
Now, we find out they cannot win a playoff game at home with plenty of extra time to prepare — for a team they have already seen this season, nonetheless. That’s a tough statistic to overlook if you’re part of the front office and ownership in Carolina.
Another reason why Rivera should be fired? He lacks the ability to help develop a franchise quarterback.
Certainly, Newton has had a fantastic season — his best yet as a pro. But, one thing has not changed. Newton continues to stare down his receiver on many occasions, knowing where he will throw the ball regardless of what happens on the defensive side. We saw that late in the fourth quarter when he threw a blatant interception to all but seal the game. How come this hasn’t been fixed? Carolina needs a coach that can better develop Newton’s obvious flaws.
As much as I like and respect Rivera, losing a game like this and failing to score a single point in the second half is not a great way to go out in the 2013-2014 campaign. I would not be surprised if, with all of this in mind, Rivera doesn’t have a job at some point in the near future.