Friday, January 22, 2021

Ron Rivera axed by Carolina Panthers

Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have parted ways after nearly nine seasons. Struggling through their second consecutive losing season proved too much for Rivera to outlast and the Panthers will enter rebuild mode at the end of the season.

Ron Rivera began his NFL coaching career as a defensive quality control coach for the Chicago Bears in 1997. He progressed rapidly up the ranks as his prowess for defensive scheming became clear and was announced as defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in the 2004 season.

His time in Chicago culminated in the 2006 Super Bowl campaign, where the Bears came up short against the Indianapolis Colts. Rivera would find himself in San Diego for the next four seasons, before being tapped for the top job in Carolin in 2011.

Ron Rivera Super Bowl Run

After starting his head coaching career with 2 losing seasons, Rivera took the Panthers to the playoffs for the first time in 2013. Their playoff run was short-lived, however, as the San Francisco 49ers despatched thin in the Divisional round 23-10.

Following another losing season in 2014, Rivera led the Panthers to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, behind the play of MVP Cam Newton. Finishing the regular season 15-1 and with home-field advantage the Panthers beat first the Seahawks, and then handily beat the Cardinals 49-15 to capture their first NFC Championship.

Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera

The Super Bowl proved a step too far as Cam Newton was largely shut down by a dominant Broncos defence, running out 24-10 losers on the day.

However, it was an immensely impressive season and one the Panthers expected to build on. Things didn’t quite pan out that way for Rivera and the Panthers as Cam Newton began to be beset by injuries, and a lack of a long-term successor to the now ailing quarterback eventually sealed his fate.

While the Panthers fans expected a playoff run this season, it was clear the season hinged on whether Newton would stay healthy. Unfortunately, Newton has played just two games this season, and despite a promising early start Kyle Allen has been unable to carry the team forward.

Ron Rivera leaves the Panthers with a career winning record of 76-63-1 and will be slightly disappointed that his tenure has ended like this. Having managed to keep the Panthers competitive without his starting quarterback he would have expected to be given one more season.

He is likely to be back in the league in some capacity in very short time. His experience, and defensive prowess will be highly sort after in the coming hiring window.

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