Rivera still coaching for his job
Posted November 5, 2012
Everything clicked for the Carolina Panthers as they broke a 5-game losing streak in Washington. Head coach Ron Rivera just needs to get his team to replicate Sunday afternoon for the remainder of the schedule and all the hot-seat talk will fizzle out.
Rivera understands how the position he's in is rather tenuous, telling Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson laid out the requirements following the dismissal of general manager Marty Hurney.
"It was hard, but my discussion with Mr. Richardson was a good one," Rivera said. "He told me that we are in a production-based business. You have to perform. I get it. I understand his point."
After Hurney was shown the door, mostly for his draft results and partly for fan-service in Charlotte, the Panthers couldn't finish games in the fourth quarter and everything appeared to be unravelling. Cam Newton continued to come under fire for his meandering post game comments and body language. Players openly talked about a leadership void. Following the loss at Chicago, defensive players called out the coaching staff for failing to adjust to the same slant pattern down the stretch.
Rivera did not have the Panthers "trending upwards" and even reasonable folks started to come around on the idea that Richarson would be looking for a new coach at the end of the season.
So what worked on Sunday? The Panthers didn't breakdown defensively like they did in previous weeks and kept Washington in their redzone doldrums. Lo and behold, Carolina created pressure on Robert Griffin III and sacked him several times.
And there was a running game as well. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart didn't blow up the box score, combining for 88 yards on 16 carries, but they made several critical runs. That was huge for Cam Newton, who had a quietly efficient game despite a bloodied thumb.
Newton threw for 201 yards, had a signature rushing touchdown and found Steve Smith for his first touchdown catch of the season. As if you need further proof everything went right for Carolina, Newton hooked up with a wide-open Armanti Edwards for an 82-yard play.
Amazing how a win changes attitudes. That's the nature of the NFL in 2012, where every week is some sort of referendum. Rivera knows better than any pundit or fan that a loss next week to the Denver Broncos, with the guy he replaced at the helm, evaporates any goodwill built up against the Redskins.