Panthers coach Ron Rivera understands the flaws on his team. But if there was ever any question, the firing of general manager Marty Hurney on Monday brought them into focus.
Rivera, during an interview on WFNZ’s The Drive, said he told his players succinctly that a message was sent.
“He took responsibility,” Rivera said of Hurney. “Now we have to stand up and take responsibility for ourselves.”
As Hurney was leaving, he talked about the void of leadership in the locker room, that he regretted not drafting a Ray Lewis type to take charge.
“Some people have to find who they follow, and some people have to find who their leader is,” Rivera said. “Those leaders have to realize they are leaders and step up.
“I don’t know if there’s enough of the type of leaders we need in this locker room, but it’s something we’ve been working on.”
Whether the Panthers recover from their current state sooner, later or ever will largely depend on the two players who are expected to grow into those roles — quarterback Cam Newton and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. They are in natural positions to do so, and must grow into it quickly.
Rivera himself has been questioned locally, partly because fans are suckers for guys who jump around and yell, and he’s a stoic presence.
“You know it’s funny,” Rivera said. “Because you look at certain things, and people say ‘look how ridiculous he looks, he losing his mind. He screaming at people. He’s cussing. He’s throwing things around, . . .’ I mean, if we win those football games, people would say ‘Oh boy, it looks like he’s in control. . .’
“So take everything with a grain of salt. There’s some things that I need to do different, most definitely. I get that part of it. If we are going be trending up, then I need to do some things differently, as well. Not just me, but my coaches and my players.”
Rivera also described his meetings Monday with owner Jerry Richardson, and how they talked about the expectations on the team the rest of this season.
“The bottom line is, things have to change,” Rivera said.
If they don’t, Rivera’s address will.