This offseason has been a rocky ride for the Carolina Panthers. They have lost many good players to retirement and free agency, but have also managed to re-sign big names (such as Greg Hardy), as well as bring in new talent to aid their struggling offense.
Amidst the media storm and scrutiny the organization has undergone in the last two months, perhaps no name has come up more than general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman has his hands full with the Panthers’ offseason situations, and is trying to keep his winning team from 2013 together without the same weapons they had last year. A very difficult task no doubt, and while there are many people on either side of the debate of whether or not Gettleman is doing what’s best for Carolina, there has been one person who has been completely overlooked — Ron Rivera.
By now, most people who follow the NFL know the name Ron Rivera. He is a phenomenal coach who has been steadily rebuilding the Panthers since he first took over the reigns. Last year, he brought the team from a measly 1-3 start all the way to 12-4 and a playoff bye. That being said, he is still going to have the biggest role in the future of the Panthers.
Yes, Gettleman and his staff may be up top of the organization pulling the strings, but Rivera is the one who is going to have to take whatever players he gets and mold them into winners. Sports teams do not happen overnight, but there are many teams who have been saved by very skilled coaching (such as the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers). Rivera is a coach who has proven he can take a team into the postseason; what he has not proven is if he can do it two years in a row with the spotlight bearing down on him.
As of right now, it is Gettleman standing in the middle of the ring and taking punches. However, come Fall, those punches are going to be aimed at Rivera. Panthers fans better hope he’s ready.