2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers' Rivera knows he has to win next season

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-29 15:03

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers owner Jerry Richardson doesn't need to remind coach Ron Rivera just how important winning in 2013 is to his future as an NFL head coach.

He already knows.

Rivera told The Associated Press Tuesday that when he met with Richardson earlier this month and was informed he'd be returning for a third season in Carolina, he wasn't given a make-the-playoffs-or-else ultimatum from his boss.

``He doesn't want me looking over my shoulder,'' Rivera said. ``He wants me to coach.''

But while the coach said Richardson has been supportive, he acknowledged there's an underlying sense of urgency.

``I understand we need to win - and he knows I understand that,'' Rivera said. ``He's been forthright and direct. Now it's up to me.''

Richardson's patience is wearing thin.

The Panthers haven't made the postseason since 2008 and haven't won a playoff game since 2005.

Carolina went 6-10 and 7-9 the past two seasons under Rivera.

The 76-year-old Richardson fired longtime general manager Marty Hurney following a 1-5 start and informed Rivera the Panthers needed to be ``trending upward'' the rest of the season for him to keep his job.

The Panthers responded by winning five of six games down the stretch, including their final four to finish in second place in the NFC South.

After more than a week deliberating, Richardson met with Rivera and told him he still had a job.

New GM Dave Gettleman also gave Rivera a nod of approval recently, saying in his introductory press conference that ``I don't have a list of head coaches in my back pocket. I have no interest in that.''

But to say Rivera's job is secure would be a stretch, particularly if the team gets off to another slow start next season.

The Panthers have started 2-8 in each of the last two seasons under Rivera, essentially ruining any shot at the playoffs. They're 9-3 overall in post-Thanksgiving Day games.

That strong finish - and the promise of a brighter future - helped save Rivera's job.

``We have to continue that trend,'' Rivera said. ``We cannot take a step back. I know that. The players know that. The coaches know that. But it's going to be up to me - and deservedly so. I'm the head coach and that's why I've done the things I've done this offseason.''

One of those things was to promote quarterbacks coach Mike Shula as the team's new offensive coordinator to replace Rob Chudzinski, who left the team to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Shula's track record in his previous four seasons as an offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay wasn't spectacular numbers-wise.

The Bucs finished 29th in total offense during that span - but reached the NFC championship in Shula's final season there in 1999.

Rivera said Shula's working knowledge of the Carolina offense and familiarity with franchise quarterback Cam Newton helped earn him the job over outsiders Hue Jackson and Pat Shurmur, both of whom interviewed for the position.

The coach said the decision centered around Newton's late-season development.

Over the final six games Newton combined for 14 touchdowns - 10 passing and two rushing - and had only two turnovers. The Panthers simplified the playbook and asked Newton to do less on offense.

Less turned out to mean more.

``I think the way Cam played the second half of the season, protecting the football the way he did and not giving up big sacks, just the way he played, his growth....'' Rivera said. ``He really had to go through the maturation process.''

He didn't want to ruin that momentum by forcing Newton to learn a new system.

``That was it,'' Rivera said. ``Mike was with (the other candidates) step-for-step in terms of offensive thinking and planning and strategy. But the bottom line is familiarity with who we are as a football team.

``You also have to be concerned (with a new coordinator) with how much of what you do will he use and how much of what he's done in the past will he add? The thing I felt like we needed to do was stick to what we did down the stretch, refine those things and, in some cases, correct the things we had problems with. Listening to Mike, if we were going to add something it was going to be in line with what we've done in the past.''

Rivera believes strengthening the team's line play is a priority on offense and developing the team's young receivers is a must. Defensively, he likes the front seven but said the young secondary will need to grow up in a hurry.

He also wants to find a dual threat return man and most consistency from his young kickers Graham Gano and Brad Nortman.

Most of the improvements will have to come from players on the roster because at $16 million over the projected salary cap the Panthers will be doing more subtracting than adding to their current roster this offseason.

Still, Rivera remains optimistic.

``I think this team can grow into a playoff team, I really do,'' Rivera said. ``Mostly because of the way we played down the stretch and who we beat down the stretch. It's not like we beat teams that were all under .500 or we beat teams that didn't have good players. To me, that shows you are trending in the right direction, and I think that is important.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Marcus TrufantApr 23 06:13p

Free-agent CB Marcus Trufant (Jaguars) will sign a deal with the Seattle Seahawks with the intention of retiring with the team.

Jason Pierre-PaulApr 23 04:33p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) said great and that he will not be limited during offseason workouts. Pierre-Paul has lost 15 pounds this offseason and is comfortable [ More ]

Ryan CladyApr 23 04:23p

Denver Broncos OT Ryan Clady (foot) would not give a timetable for his return but said he does expect to be ready for the start of the regular season.

David WilsonApr 23 04:03p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is feeling good and is just waiting for the doctors to clear him to play again. Wilson said he is [ More ]

Jamar TaylorApr 23 03:53p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor said he considered quitting football after he dealt with injuries during the 2013 season but is ready to play this upcoming season. 'It was [ More ]

Sam BradfordApr 23 03:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford (knee) will start the offseason conditioning program in a limited fashion while still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season. Head [ More ]

Tyrann MathieuApr 23 03:03p

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said FS Tyrann Mathieu's (knee) rehab is on schedule but believes Mathieu probably will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform [ More ]

Shaun DraughnApr 23 02:23p

The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent RB Shaun Draughn (Colts) to a one-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Stephen BurtonApr 23 02:03p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed WR Stephen Burton on the Reserve/Retired list.

Antrel RolleApr 23 01:13p

New York Giants FS Antrel Rolle, who is entering the final year of his contract, said finishing his career with the Giants would be an ideal situation. Rolle said [ More ]

Frank SummersApr 23 12:33p

The Buffalo Bills have re-signed exclusive rights free-agent FB Frank Summers, WR Chris Hogan, and OG Antoine McClain. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Aldon SmithApr 23 12:23p

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith was present for the start of offseason workouts Monday, April 21, even though he was arrested in Los Angeles last week.

Dominic RaiolaApr 23 12:23p

Detroit Lions C Dominic Raiola said he would be fine with the team selecting a center during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he understands that he is near the [ More ]

Doug MarroneApr 23 12:03p

Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone had a cancerous mole removed Tuesday, April 22. 'That's basically the end of the story,' Marrone said. 'The recent extraction procedure will have [ More ]

Terrelle PryorApr 23 08:58a

The Seattle Seahawks acquired QB Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders Monday, April 21, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in this year's draft. He will compete with [ More ]

Matt RyanApr 22 10:53p

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith is calling for major improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He fears the team could bottom out for a second [ More ]

EJ ManuelApr 22 08:13p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel (knees) is healthy entering voluntary workouts and feels normal and had no limitations during the Tuesday, April 22 conditioning program. Bills head coach Doug [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 22 07:53p

Updating a previous report, the Baltimore Ravens have officially placed LB Rolando McClain on the reserve-retired list for a second time. The Ravens will retain McClain's rights if he changes his mind again.

Eli ManningApr 22 07:33p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) expects to be 100 percent for the beginning of training camp. Manning has no concerns about learning the Giants' new playbook, instead [ More ]

Ray RiceApr 22 04:43p

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice looks great physically, according to strength and conditioning coach Bob Roguck. 'He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, [ More ]

David WilsonApr 22 02:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is still waiting for a clear MRI to be medically cleared, but is currently ahead of schedule.

Julio JonesApr 22 01:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited during the team's offseason workouts while he recovers from offseason foot surgery. 'Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,' [ More ]

Eli ManningApr 22 01:03p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) said his ankle is progressing but he does not have a timetable for his return to the field. Manning is currently in a walking boot.

Stevie BrownApr 22 12:33p

New York Giants FS Stevie Brown (knee) said he feels like he is ready to go when the Giants hit the field after recovering from a serious knee injury. [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 10:33a

The New York Giants are likely to cut FS Will Hill after his third potential drug suspension.

Josh MorganApr 22 09:52a

Chicago Bears WR Joshua Morgan is likely to compete for the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver role this year, and he'll compete with WRs Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 09:33a

New York Giants FS Will Hill is facing a year-long suspension after reportedly failing another drug test. He will appeal what would be his third drug-related suspension.

Kyle WilliamsApr 21 09:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed WR Kyle Williams Monday, April 21. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Colt AndersonApr 21 07:12p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent FS Colt Anderson (Eagles) to an undisclosed deal Monday, April 21.

Jamar TaylorApr 21 06:43p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor (groin) is healthy following hernia surgery and began offseason workouts with his teammates Monday, April 21. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he expects [ More ]

Dustin KellerApr 21 05:42p

Eugene Parker, agent for free-agent TE Dustin Keller (knee), said Keller is ready to participate in offseason workouts when he signs with a team.

Eric FisherApr 21 05:12p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) said there is no timetable for his return following multiple surgeries, but he doesn't think he'll be out for long. 'He's [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group