In just over a season as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera has posted just a 7-13 record. He has instilled a culture of losing in Carolina that exists despite the abundance of talent on the roster.
Rivera, known as a hard-nosed defensive minded coach, has somehow failed to bring a sense of defensive intensity to this Panthers team.
This season, Carolina ranks 22nd against the pass and 25th against the rush. The team is just 1-3, and after a last second loss to the Atlanta Falcons, morale can only be getting worse.
This was supposed to be a team on the rise. Cam Newton was exceptional as a rookie last year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and rushing for 700 more.
Now, he is a somber shell of his former self.
Newton has thrown for four touchdowns and five interceptions in four games this season.
After being blown out on Thursday Night Football against the New York Giants in Week 3, Newton showed no signs of optimism in the post-game press conference.
He instead looked like a man defeated.
A man with little faith in his head coach or his own abilities.
In the fourth quarter of the Week 4 loss to the Falcons, Rivera had the choice to either go for it on 4th-and-1 to secure the victory late in the game, or punt it away.
Rather than trust his high-powered rushing attack to go over 200 yards on the ground for the game, he opted to punt and let Matt Ryan win the game for Atlanta.
Rivera does not seem to be playing to win, but is instead playing not to lose.
He consistently struggles to make proper mid-game adjustments and rarely puts the Panthers in position to win close ball games.
As safety Haruki Nakamura was beat play after play deep down the field by Ryan, Rivera made few (if any) adjustments to the Panthers secondary.
Carolina needs a lightning rod.
Someone to ignite this talented offense and get the most out of the defense.
That should be Rivera, but it isn't.
There is a culture of losing right now for the Panthers and Rivera is the reason why.
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