Caulton Tudor

Rivera should land NFL coach of year award

Posted December 23, 2013
Updated December 24, 2013

Coach Ron Rivera on the sidelines. St. Louis Rams visiting the Carolina Panthers on Sunday October 20, 2013. Rams first play from scrimmage was intercepted and returned for a TD and the Panthers never looked back with a hime victory of 30-15. Photo by CHRIS BAIRD

— The only time a Carolina Panthers head coach won The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award was Dom Capers in 1996.

That situation should soon pronto as it’s almost impossible to envision anyone other than Ron Rivera winning the honor this season.

At 11-4, and after a 1-3 start to the year, Rivera has engineered the most dramatic comeback story of the season in the league.

The 51-year-old former Chicago Bears linebacker seemed certain to be on his way out after the Panthers played one of their worst offensive games ever, losing 22-6 on Oct. 6 at Arizona.

But since, the Panthers, who had gone 6-10 and 7-9 in Rivera’s first two seasons, have been stunning.

The rebound peaked with Sunday’s 17-13 win over New Orleans in Charlotte -- a game that clinched a playoff berth and opened the door for a possible NFC South Division title. All the Panthers need is a win this Sunday at Atlanta. The Falcons are 4-10 entering Monday night’s game at San Francisco (10-4).

The work done by Rivera and his staff comes after a long stretch of franchise frustration. Since reaching the NFC title game in 2005 (two years after a Super Bowl loss to New England), the Panthers had managed only one winning season -- 12-5 in 2007.

Rivera will have challengers in the awards race, of course.

Kansas City’s Andy Reid deserves some voting support. So do Marvin Lewis of Cincinnati, Pete Carroll (Seattle), Bruce Arians (Arizona) and Chip Kelly (Philadelphia). But when you take everything into account -- pressure, expectations, progression -- Rivera has to be the winner.

And if it turns out that way, 2013 will qualify as a banner season for North Carolina football coaches across the board. Duke’s David Cutcliffe has won most of the major college awards thus far (although he was denied by the AP), and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Mike Houston has drawn loads of attention at the NCAA Division II level.

AP NFL Coach of the Year winners (since 1996):
2012: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis
2011: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco
2010: Bill Belichick, New England
2009: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati
2008: Mike Smith, Atlanta
2007: Bill Belichick, New England
2006: Sean Payton, New Orleans
2005: Lovie Smith, Chicago
2004: Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego
2003: Bill Belichick, New England
2002: Andy Reid, Philadelphia
2001: Dick Jauron, Chicago
2000: Jim Haslett, New Orleans
1999: Dick Vermeil, St. Louis
1998: Dan Reeves, Atlanta
1997: Jim Fassel, N.Y. Giants
1996: Dom Capers, Carolina

Panthers all-time coaches
1.Dom Capers, 1995-1998, 31-35 record
2.George Seifert, 1999-2001, 16-32 record
3.John Fox, 2002-2010, 78-74 record
4.Ron Rivera, 2011-2013, 24-23 record


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  • vt94hokies Dec 29, 2013

    The win today made it for the Panthers. Home field is such a huge deal.

  • vt94hokies Dec 29, 2013

    I surely hope that he wins this.

  • UNC_fan4eva Dec 28, 2013

    Should the Panthers receive a 1st round bye, it just might set them up for a rematch with the Arizona Cardinals, if they make it into the playoffs and survive their 1st rd game. The Panthers have always had trouble with the Cards - I would like to finally beat them and shrug off their jinx.

    Not certain yet as the Cards have to win, Carolina has to win, NO lose for the Cards to squeeze in as a wildcard team. Oddly enough if Carolina loses - they also eliminate Arizona if the Saints win. If Riverboat Ron really plays the odds, he might want to avoid jinxy Arizona and toss a lemon tomorrow.

  • dave437 Dec 25, 2013

    by that logic...all your examples are from a different head coach and different starting quarterback....

  • RaleighNCGuy Dec 24, 2013

    View quoted thread

    What makes you so certain that will happen?? Historically (not that it matters), the Panthers have been superb in the playoffs when they make it to the post-season, the only exception being 2008. 3 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance isn't too shabby for a relatively young franchise.

    This year they have proven they can win at home as well as on the road while in the spotlight (San Fran, New England, NO). A first round bye and a game, or possibly two, at home would certainly help their cause. Anything can happen, including a first round exit, but it wouldn’t be because they didn't deserve to be there. This is a legit football team. Not sure of the reason for your low-blow on Rivera, which has nothing to do with the last time they were 12-4 and in the playoffs, unless you are just hating or trolling. Your comment has no substance, is purely speculative and based on nothing more than a completely different team from 5-6 years ago.

  • Honesty first Dec 24, 2013

    Hey hey.....Tudor got one right!!

  • jhk0704 Dec 24, 2013

    Andy Reid

  • The Ramfather Dec 24, 2013

    Rivera, Reid, and Kelly in that order...right now...Gettleman for GM of the year if that award exists...

  • UNC_fan4eva Dec 23, 2013

    Andy Reid, John Fox are also good candidates for this award. Both revived careers at new clubs and have very good teams. Reid completely turned around the Chiefs.

    Chip Kelly still trails some baggage from NCAA violations at Oregon...maybe next year he makes my ballot. Eagles under performed last year, Kelly is a big reason why they are doing well this year.

    Rivera - makes my ballot this year but I can't decide which of the three should win - very close contest.

  • dave437 Dec 23, 2013

    Andy Reid or Chip Kelly.

    mainly bc the Panthers will do what they did the last time they were 12-4.....choke in the first round.




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