Time running out for Rivera
Posted October 7, 2013
Remember all those warm and happy thoughts after the Carolina Panthers dominated the New York Giants? Remember talk of momentum heading into a bye-week and a stretch of winnable games?
Well, about that.
Following a 22-6 loss to Arizona, in which the Cardinals just had to play slightly less awful than the Panthers, the focus shifted back to the employment status of head coach Ron Rivera. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the front office has already begun groundwork for a coaching search.
Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman told ESPN.com that Rapoport's report was "unequivocally false." However, it doesn't really run counter to a report from Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer following the win over New York that Rivera would not be replaced during the season. It's entirely plausible the Panthers would work back channels while allowing Rivera to play out the string.
Sunday's loss was a complete team effort. The Panthers made it harder on themselves by committing penalties, blowing scoring opportunities and allowing the Arizona pass rush to harass Cam Newton. Once the Cardinals took the lead with Rashard Mendenhall's rushing touchdown, Carolina pressed down the stretch and mistakes piled up.
Since Newton lives life on that pinnacle, it wasn't a surprise to see blame laid at his feet.
Newton obviously contributed his own share of mistakes. He threw three interceptions and fumbled. Newton was sacked seven times thanks to offensive line woes, but a couple of them could have been avoided had he thrown the ball away. One sack on third down took the Panthers out of field goal range.
However, any discussion of Newton's afternoon must include the crucial mistakes by his wide receivers. Steve Smith dropped what should have been a touchdown on the second drive of the game. The Panthers didn't convert a critical fourth down because Brandon LaFell couldn't hold on to the ball.
And then there's the safety.
Smith was hit with a questionable pass interference penalty that put the Panthers on their own 5-yard line. On the next play, Ryan Kalil tripped while looking for help from Travelle Wharton. Newton was a sitting duck in the end zone and was sacked for a safety.
Always look on the bright side of life, kids.