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Steve Smith: Unfair for Ron Rivera to take all the blame

Ron Rivera AP

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was able to successfully lobby for his job this offseason, prior to the hiring of a new General Manager.

But after just two games, the future of their head coach is again the primary topic for the Panthers, as players are forced yet again to defend him.

The Panthers’ loss to the Bills yesterday dropped Rivera to 13-21 as a head coach, starting each of his first two seasons 2-8 and now 0-2 in his third. He’s 2-14 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and in 10 of his losses, his team led in the fourth quarter.

“Coach Rivera cannot run a route, catch a pass or even throw,” Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “He can’t cover anybody. He’s the head coach. The unfortunate part is he’s going to get the blame for it that we aren’t this, we aren’t that.”

The galling part for Panthers fans is the consistency of the failures, as Rivera has turned into a Charlie Brown who keeps trying to kick the football, only to have a different Lucy pull it away every week. This time, it was Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel doing the deed, taking his team 80 yards in 1:42 with no timeouts for the game-winning touchdown.

“This is like going to the dentist and getting several teeth pulled without any anesthesia, laughing gas, . . .  nothing,” Smith said. “Man, it’s tough. Sickening.

“It opens up the door of criticism, complaining, of finger-pointing, of questioning what is or what isn’t. . . . At the end of the day, Coach Rivera [and his coordinators] call plays. As players, we actually have to execute them. Some of us are executing and some aren’t.”

There’s plenty of user error in the Panthers locker room now, but the problems are systemic, and make it look like a question of when and not if the big rebuild happens.

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24 Responses to “Steve Smith: Unfair for Ron Rivera to take all the blame”
  1. rhinojr says: Sep 16, 2013 8:47 AM

    Steve- I love the way you play, BUT Rivera will and should get all the blame, bec bad calls on offense especially at 3rd and 5 (run play to Tolbert) do not get it done. YOU have to put the other team away, don’t keep them in games. Rivera has shown that he has learns NOTHING… He’s GONE

  2. nesportsfan0428 says: Sep 16, 2013 8:53 AM

    The only thing I’d say about the Panthers is that their play calling is way to conservative on offence. They don’t have a solid defence, but have a decent offence that could put up some numbers: take the training wheels off.

  3. bluflower010 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:03 AM

    Well then, someone needs to tell Cam Newton to play better”.

  4. jason9696 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:10 AM

    That was great coverage by the Panthers on the Bills game winning TD.

  5. lanjoith says: Sep 16, 2013 9:12 AM

    We will gladly take him back as DC here in SD.

  6. sportsmeccabi says: Sep 16, 2013 9:15 AM

    If half our secondary didn’t get injured midgame, we would have won and everyone would be asking what is wrong with EJ Manuel.

    He was literally throwing against some third stringers.

    Still, we suck, have a hard schedule, and Rivera will be fired after the year is over.

    I just hope this time we don’t kill our draft pick in the second half of the year. I want Watkins or Marqise Lee

  7. dixiebob says: Sep 16, 2013 9:17 AM

    The new Offensive Coordinator seems to have reigned the offense in – especially Cam Newton. Perhaps Shuler needs to be looked at as much or more that Rivera.

  8. jgedgar70 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:24 AM

    Rivera should get the blame. He’s the one that plays not to lose, always expecting the worst. He’s turned himself into John Fox. This is the same stuff we wer complaining about with Fox 3 years ago.

    Somebody get Jon Gruden on the phone….

  9. vnhalen says: Sep 16, 2013 9:28 AM

    0-16 season. is rivera to blame, is shula to blame? not sure where the blame is. a lot of mistakes by a lot of players. 3 injuries to our DB’s, the weakest position on the team, will be our demise. i guess the writers were right. we suck. yesterday was one of the worst losses i have seen from this team and i have seen a lot. too much to take. now i must suffer the humiliation of another awful double digit loss season.

  10. btellington says: Sep 16, 2013 9:31 AM

    Smith is right. Some of the blame should be assigned to Shula as well.

    As for Rivera, he had fourth and one. A field goal merely means that the other team now has to score a touchdown to win instead of a field goal to tie, and a first down means that the game is over because Buffalo has no time outs.

    At his disposal, he has a 250 pound fullback in Tolbert, and a 250 pound mobile QB in Newton. The worst that can happen is the ball is turned over to Buffalo on the 20, with the Panthers up 3.

    So he kicks it anyway. And predictably, Buffalo marches down the field and scores a TD, it’s the same story we’ve seen time and again under Rivera. Yes, he’s been in that situation before, and had the same thing happen, yet he kicks it anyway. As if this time would be different?

    His players like him, but he’s not HC material.

  11. corkspop says: Sep 16, 2013 9:31 AM

    The injuries in the secondary had little to do with the outcome. The Bills won because they constantly pressured Newton, because they were able to cover Steve Smith 1 on 1 with their own 2nd string Cornerback, and because the Carolina offense HAS been tuned down. Cam Newton can be a better QB than RGIII if you let him play his game. Overall, the Head Coach must take the blame for all of the 4th quarter letdowns.

  12. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:32 AM

    You can always help him out by sucker punching a couple of the guys who didn’t perform well Steve.

  13. skoobyfl says: Sep 16, 2013 9:41 AM

    Maybe the Bills should get all the credit instead of Rivera taking the blame.

  14. troche2 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:47 AM

    The end of Rivera. Hope he gets his walking papers during the bye after we get clocked by the 0-2 Giants this week. Nice guy but a horrible game manager.

  15. teek77 says: Sep 16, 2013 9:58 AM

    The sure way to lose a football game is to get too conservative and “play not to lose”. When it was 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 21 with 1:42 left on the clock, why not show confidence in your offense and put Buffalo away rather than leave the door open for them to go down field and score a TD like they did. Really……. when in his career has Cam Newton not been able to move the ball 1 yard on a designed play! I have a lot more confidence in Cam running 1 yard than an injured secondary stopping a passing attack.

  16. packersarethebest says: Sep 16, 2013 10:11 AM

    Steve Smith has been a class act throughout his career and one of my favorite players. I wish he could make his way to GB, catch some balls from the best QB in the league and end his career on a high note. Not that GB needs any receivers since year in/out we’re loaded at that position, but it would be nice to see him do some Lambeau leaps!

  17. bluflower010 says: Sep 16, 2013 10:11 AM

    Sad thing is, The Panthers are wasting Cam Newton’s good years,kinda like how the Cardinals have done Larry Fitzgerald recently. Get the kid some weapons. they have supplied Cam with absolutely nothing as far as offensive weapons go. such a shame,seeing his talents wasted in Carolina..

  18. amgdds says: Sep 16, 2013 11:03 AM

    Kills me to say it. Fire Rivera now. Hire bengals dc
    Zimmer in the offseason.

    1st round pick will be in top 5. Don’t need bridgewater n clowney might not be best suited here. Draft the Texas a n m kid with the OL bloodlines-Mathews.
    We need a db/f/ss but maybe later in draft or free agency. Ol needs solidifying.
    Love smith. But sell high. He won’t be the player he is now in 3-4 yrs, so trade him for a draft pick. 2nd easy. 1st maybe from a team who’s # goes down and r desperate.

    That Sammy Watkins kid could be worth trading Carolina’s 2nd and the second we get for Smith, up for a 1st rounder.

    It still doesn’t address the defensive backfield- but maybe Zimmer can put together a hard nosed defensive w an actual plan.

    Rivera is a nice guy. Probably be a great high school coach. Not assertive enough to motivate the pros

  19. delhommed says: Sep 16, 2013 11:15 AM

    Panthers fans, we have seen this before. Remember the home game against Tampa last year? Remember the Bears Game from last year?
    I knew we were going to lose when I saw that we were playing to kick a field goal and go up by 6 instead of going for a first down and running out the clock.
    Sure, statistically the odds weren’t with the Bills when they had drive 80 yards with no timeouts and less than two minutes remaining, so why wouldn’t we kick a field goal and go up by 6 and hope our defense can hold off the inevitable? Because it is Ron Rivera’s Panthers! 2-14 in games decided by a TD or less describes it all! 3 straight seasons of starting 0-2…. make it another year of not making the playoffs!
    PANTHERS/MR. RICHARDSON, WHY DO I FELL IT HURTS ME WORSE THAN YOU GUYS?

  20. thebandit27 says: Sep 16, 2013 11:55 AM

    1) for those claiming injuries in the Carolina secondary are to blame, keep in mind that Buffalo came into the game without their best CB, best S, and top slot CB as well.

    2) perhaps Steve Smith can focus more on helping out his coach and QB, and less on talking smack to the opponents’ sideline after 8-yard catches at his own 40…his attitude yesterday was embarrassing, which is sad because the Panthers are an otherwise likeable team.

  21. realfootballfan says: Sep 16, 2013 12:16 PM

    He should be to blame. He is the one who hired Mike Shula because that’s the kind of offense he wanted to run. He’s stuck in the 1980’s when the NFL is now a passing league. Furthermore, he should be self aware of his own roster’s shortcomings, namely that his RB who he wants to pound the rock with isn’t that good anymore. That 17 TD season was in 2008, literally light years ago for Deangelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart is still hurt.

  22. Kaz says: Sep 16, 2013 12:22 PM

    Maybe Cam just isn’t all that good.

  23. thestrategyexpert says: Sep 16, 2013 2:18 PM

    The GM deserves all of the specific blame. This team is poorly designed and has no chance to succeed. They have lousy shapes and no plan to win.

  24. jgedgar70 says: Sep 16, 2013 6:00 PM

    thestrategyexpert – The GM was hired after the owner promised the head coach he would stay for this season. Gettleman managed to restructure a legion of rotten contracts the previous GM negotiated. He did as much as he could.

    Now, the coach? He’s the one who called for a field goal on 4th & 1, when his fullback had run for FIVE YARDS just ONE PLAY EARLIER. Why was he so convinced he wouldn’t get 1 more yard on the next play? Worst case, Bills have the ball on the 21. And of course, with the touchback, they had it on the 20. Bad play-calling. And a 2-14 record in games decided by 7 points or less.

    The man simply isn’t qualified to be a head coach. And hopefully, after we get drilled by the Giants again, te GM has the freedom to tell this to the owner and send him packing.

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