Faced with a hypothetical, Panthers coach Ron Rivera admitted he might rest some starters if the Panthers got to 15-0.
But it’s also clear he’s not wild about the idea.
Rivera seemed open to the possibility, with many conditions.
“Hypothetically speaking, yes – to a point,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “The reason I would is because I was on a team that had done the same thing, and we didn’t, and it cost us in my opinion because I thought we were rusty.
“I wasn’t the head coach then and didn’t make that decision but I went along with it.”
He’s likely talking about the 2009 Chargers, who played Philip Rivers less than a quarter after wrapping up a bye, and then fell flat in the divisional round against the Jets, scoring just 14 points after what amounted to two weeks off. Rivera was Norv Turner’s defensive coordinator that year.
“The ultimate goal is to win it all, not necessarily be undefeated,” Rivera said. “That’s the most important thing — to come into the playoffs on an up note as opposed to down or where somebody gets hurt needlessly.”
Weighing those concerns qualifies as a first-world problem, for a coach whose team can clinch that bye this week, having already secured the NFC South title for the third straight year. Their remaining games include two against the Falcons, a trip to the Giants and a home finale against the Buccaneers, teams with a combined 23-25 record.