There isn’t much left to say about the 2012 Carolina Panthers season.
Disappointing. A letdown. Underachieving.
There’s two trains of thought on how to react. You could let you emotions boil over and do something crazy like taking an anonymous full-page ad out in the Charlotte Observer and pelt owner Jerry Richardson with ways he or his staff have screwed the pooch.
As a side note here, I think 2012 has shown that taking full-page ads in the Charlotte paper address the Panthers is a bad idea. Right, Ryan Kalil?
The ad titled “The Panthers Pyramid Scheme – An open letter to Carolina Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson” attacked Richardson for a myriad of atrocities, like his “bottom-line worship,” hiring another defensive-minded coordinator with no head-coaching experience as head coach and raising beer prices by 300 percent.
I’m not privy to Richardson’s books and I haven’t ordered a beer in Bank of America Stadium since 1998, but I do agree with the part about the hiring of Ron Rivera.
Prior to Week 14, back when the Panthers were 3-9, everyone was calling for Rivera’s head. No one expected him to return as head coach in 2013. Some thought he might be escorted to the door before season’s end.
Two wins later and now Rivera’s coaching life breathes hope? Preposterous.
Let’s not forget that under his reign Carolina’s offense failed to fully utilize possibly the best one-two running back punch in football in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Add in Mike Tolbert and the dual-threat Cam Newton and there’s no reason why Newton should be leading the team in rushing yards and the Panthers rank just ninth in the NFL.
On the defensive side, it’s also been under Rivera’s watch that opposing teams out-coached the Panthers’ staff. Who could forget Jay Cutler using the same play over and over to drive the field late and beat Carolina in Week 8?
Looking at Carolina’s schedule and factoring in the coaching blunders mentioned above, how many of the Panthers’ less-than-seven-point losses would have gone the other way if someone else had been at the helm? Seven of Carolina’s nine losses fall into that category. It would take less than half of them to be flipped around to place Carolina in the current NFC playoff picture.
It’s for that reason alone Rivera shouldn’t be back in 2013.
But many people, like NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, are screaming that continuity will be gravely interrupted if Rivera is replaced.
I like the Panthers, and I like what coach Ron Rivera has done. There's certainly a chance they'll replace him, but if they do, they run the risk of interrupting the progress they've made, as the new guy will likely want to install his own systems and schemes.
Brandt is correct in that fact that keeping the currently surging Newton on track is Priority No. 1 for the Panthers. The team is made up of a number of young players for whom the same argument can be made.
But I’m not sold on the fact that a better head coaching option couldn’t come in a continue with the maturation process of so many gifted youngsters. I’d also bank on the fact that if Newton and Company started winning more—new head coach needed—the maturation process might be sped up.
We all know how much Newton hates losing. What would happen if he were the quarterback of a winning team?
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.