The memory of the Carolina Panthers' 22-6 Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals is no longer fresh, and the anger it invoked has since subsided, yet, the feeling remains the same: the Panthers should fire Ron Rivera.
Sources: #Panthers have begun laying groundwork for a possible coaching search, doing background checks on candidates. 1 candidate knows.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 6, 2013
Still, of all the failings that would make such a move justifiable, the Panthers' inconsistent play lights the proverbial fire under Rivera's seat.
Of Carolina's 22 losses under Rivera, 10 have come via a blown fourth-quarter lead. In addition, the Panthers own a 2-14 record in games decided by seven points or less.
Such stink can't even be overwhelmed by the improvement Carolina has shown on defense under Rivera. After ranking 28th in total defense in 2011, it improved to 10th last year and is currently ranked third.
Fact is though, this simply speaks to what we already knew about Rivera—he is after all, a former defensive coordinator.
As a head coach, he's responsible for the whole team's performance, not just the defense.
I mean, who does Rivera think he is, Rex Ryan?
With a floundering first-round pick at quarterback, and a seemingly hands-off approach towards his offense, he could easily be mistaken for the Jets head coach.
While Ryan was given a reprieve—and a new quarterback—for his mishandling of the offense, Rivera won't be as fortunate.
Namely because the Panthers still have faith in Cam Newton.
In being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton will be afforded every opportunity to succeed in Carolina.
Former general manager Marty Hurney already took the fall for not having the Panthers flush with talent to surround Newton with.
When would you fire Ron Rivera?
The next casualty of Newton's stalled development would have to be Rivera. History tells us that much.
Alex Smith, Sam Bradford and JaMarcus Russell—all former No. 1 overall picks—all went through similar stretches of lackluster play and losing.
Before they were held accountable for their play, their first head coaches were cast out as the scapegoats.
Then there's Rivera's record.
While Rivera was referring to his football team when he told the Associated Press, "the truth of the matter is you are what your record says," it certainly applies to his win-loss record.
And at 14-22, Rivera's record says that he isn't a good head coach. With a 1-5, 1-6 and, now, 1-3 start to the season under his belt, his Panthers are again on track to be irrelevant by November.
That's just unacceptable for a team with Carolina's talent, and clearly unacceptable for fans like Donald Utsman:
Well Ron Rivera May be disgusted with the players. We the fans are Disgusted with Ron Rivera #FireRonRivera— Donald Utsman✈ #NFB (@dutsman) October 6, 2013
The Panthers may not be on New Orleans and Atlanta's level quite yet. But if a Tampa Bay team, featuring a quarterback they couldn't give away, can remain competitive and relevant for the majority of a season, why can't Carolina?
Two words, Ron Rivera.
All the reason to hand him his walking papers, as Panthers fan Marc James notes:
If Panthers Lose this Game, Dave Gettleman needs to pull a Pat Haden & FIRE Ron Rivera at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. #Panthers— MARC JAMES (@marcjames) October 6, 2013