Ron Rivera might park some starters, but doesn’t want to


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.

21 responses to “Ron Rivera might park some starters, but doesn’t want to

  1. It’s easy to say go for 19-0 but the wise thing to do would be to rest key players. Could you imagine in Cam Newton, or other key players got injured in a meaning less game a week before the playoffs?

  2. I would never rest a healthy starter if I had was getting a bye. No player needs to go two weekends (three actual weeks) without playing a game.

    That said, anyone who was even questionable on the injury report would not play.

  3. Going 16-0 is pretty cool. It has value.

    Park your starters like the Colts did and you risk the football gods frowning upon your playoff efforts.

    This idea that losing games is somehow better is nonsense.

  4. @TheWizard

    It’s not about losing games, it’s all about protecting your star players from injuries, in a game that has no post season value. 16-0 would be great, but not at the cost of loosing a key player or two right before the playoffs. If they went into the playoffs 16-0, but lost Cam Newton for the playoffs to injury, it would go down as the most foolish coaching move in NFL History. Coach Rivera is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them.

  5. Sit anyone with an injury, even if they can play. Be quick to pull any starters that get dinged. But play everyone that is healthy.

  6. You cannot enter any competitive sporting event, on any level, with the mindset of “try to not get hurt.” With that mindset, you WILL get hurt. I have always believed Marcus Dupree ended up with a catastrophic knee injury because he was constantly worried about getting one. You just can’t survive with that mentality. What did Herm Edwards say? “HELLO?? You play to win the game!” You play to win, not to not get hurt.

    I seem to recall the Patriots playing everyone at full speed at the end of 2007, including the last game against the Giants where Brady threw for about 900 yards and 20 TDs, including a dozen TDs to Randy Moss. I’m exaggerating the numbers, obviously, but the point is they were playing hard all the way through game 16.

    I understand resting your starters in game 16 if you are locked into your seed and you don’t have a bye. But if you have a bye, you use the bye to rest up, not the last game. The last thing I want is to see a Seattle team on an 8-game winning streak barrel into Charlotte with Cam & the other studs having not played in 3 weeks.

    One of the things I love about Ron Rivera is he takes past experiences, and where the experience is bad, he changes. He learned something from that Chargers experience, and he’s not going to repeat it. Good for him.

  7. I’ve never been a fan of sitting starters at the end of the year, ESPECIALLY if you’re going to have a bye week! Most of the teams I’ve watched do this have come back and lost in the playoffs.
    I’m really think that’s when “rust” and “mold” set in……Don’t do it!!! Remember Panther Nation’s mantra…….use it…….believe in it……

    KEEP POUNDING!!!!!!!!!

  8. After watching the Patriots go through this and then watching Indy bail and not try for it in 2009, I think it’s not easy to say exactly what the plan should be. Lose in the playoffs and either way will be seen as the wrong way. Win the Super Bowl and it will be seen as the right way.

    I think the best thing for the players is to give them a chance to win the games and go undefeated. They will all want it. However, don’t take any risks with players that are questionable and if the game get’s ugly look at taking some guys out.

    Even if you look at last year, the Patriots had lost a few games and had a meaningless game against the Bills and still played the starters, but pulled them out when they started targeting Brady a bit too much and the game wasn’t going the way they wanted it to. That’s the right thing even if a team is undefeated. Can’t have a win at all costs mentality in meaningless games, but the starters need to start.

    Give them a chance to win, but don’t be stupid.

    If anything bad happens Rivera will be blamed no matter what decision he makes. Just have to own that and make the best decision possible.

  9. Carolina has a legit chance to go undefeated, but there is a quarter of the season left. Lots can still happen.

    Also, Seattle has gotten their act together as of late and I would say there is probably around a 50% chance that Carolina will get Seattle in their first game in the playoffs. That would be a tough one.

    Carolina should be hoping for the winner of the NFC East or the Vikings.

  10. sirtacklesalot says:
    Dec 8, 2015 6:53 AM

    It’s easy to say go for 19-0 but the wise thing to do would be to rest key players. Could you imagine in Cam Newton, or other key players got injured in a meaning less game a week before the playoffs?


    There are only 53 guys on the active roster. Starters have to play. And if you are going to start your back up QB and have to play at least some of your starting linemen, running backs, receivers and TEs then is that really better then just playing starters and trying to win?

  11. imodan says:
    Dec 8, 2015 12:41 PM

    16-0 means zilch if you end up 18-1. Trust me
    Every Patriots fan
    I LOVED seeing the Pats lose, but going 16-0 and playing that last regualr season game hard against the Giants had nothing to do with them being tired, hurt, injured, rusty or otherwise unprepared for the Super Bowl. They just got beat.

  12. jgedgar70 says:Dec 8, 2015 11:15 AM

    You cannot enter any competitive sporting event, on any level, with the mindset of “try to not get hurt.” With that mindset, you WILL get hurt
    Nailed it

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