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.