2014 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

Knowshon MorenoSep 2 09:33a

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller totaled nearly 20 percent (140 yards) of his season yardage total (709 yards) on his longest four carries of the 2013 season. He had [ More ]

J.J. WattSep 2 04:23a

The Houston Texans signed DL J.J. Watt to a new long-term contract on Monday, Sept. 1. Watt's extension is a six-year deal worth $100 million, of which $51.876 million is guaranteed money.

Kyle Van NoySep 2 04:23a

Detroit Lions LB Kyle Van Noy (core muscle) could miss as many as eight games as he recovers from core muscle surgery. He could be placed on short-term IR as a result.

Josh BoyceSep 2 03:12a

The New England Patriots signed LB Jake Bequette, DL Deontae Skinner, OL Chris Martin, S Kanorris Davis, LS Charley Hughlett, CB Daxton Swanson and WR Josh Boyce to the [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsSep 2 01:02a

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) said he felt fine after practice Monday, Sept. 1, and hopes to be on the field in Week 1.

A.J. EddsSep 2 12:43a

The New York Jets re-signed LB A.J. Edds Monday, Sept. 1.

Kevin DorseySep 2 12:03a

The Green Bay Packers signed WR Kevin Dorsey, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, RB Michael Hill, LB Adrian Hubbard and DE Luther Robinson to the practice squad Monday, Sept. 1.

Tim BenfordSep 1 11:52p

The Dallas Cowboys signed WR Tim Benford, DE Kenneth Boatright, C Ronald Patrick, CB Micah Pellerin, LB Keith Smith, LB William Smith and FB Nikita Whitlock to the practice squad Monday, Sept. 1.

Devon StillSep 1 10:42p

The Cincinnati Bengals signed OT Dan France, TE Kevin Greene, WR Cobi Hamilton, DT David King, WR Colin Lockett, CB Onterio McCalebb, DE Sam Montgomery, C Trevor Robinson, DT [ More ]

Isaiah FreySep 1 10:33p

The Chicago Bears signed WR Josh Bellamy, C Taylor Boggs, DT Brandon Dunn, DB Isaiah Frey, OG Ryan Groy, LB DeDe Lattimore, DB Albert Louis-Jean, DB Terrance Mitchell, DE [ More ]

Bryan WaltersSep 1 09:33p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed free-agent WR Bryan Walters (Seahawks) to a contract Monday, Sept. 1. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

J. CunninghamSep 1 09:33p

The St. Louis Rams re-signed TE Justice Cunningham (ankle) and placed him on the season-ending reserve/injured list Monday, Sept. 1.

Quentin GrovesSep 1 09:33p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent LB Quentin Groves (Texans) to an undisclosed contract Monday, Sept. 1.

Charles JohnsonSep 1 09:23p

Free-agent C Josh Allen (Buccaneers), C Thomas Austin (Colts), OG Karim Barton (Browns), CB Akeem Davis (Redskins), LB Larry Dean (Vikings), TE Richard Gordon (Dolphins), TE Marcel Jensen (Vikings), [ More ]

Michael SamSep 1 08:02p

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League owns the rights to free-agent DE Michael Sam (Rams). The team has reached out to him, but there is no word [ More ]

Jeremiah GeorgeSep 1 08:02p

The New York Jets placed LB Jeremiah George on no-recall waivers Monday, Sept. 1.

Tim FuggerSep 1 08:02p

The New York Jets placed DE Tim Fugger (ankle) on no-recall waivers from the reserve/injured list Monday, Sept. 1, and he received an injury settlement.

Phil BatesSep 1 08:02p

The Seattle Seahawks placed WR Phil Bates on no-recall waivers Monday, Sept. 1.

Don JonesSep 1 08:02p

The New England Patriots claimed CB Don Jones (Dolphins) off waivers Monday, Sept. 1.

Derek CarrSep 1 06:42p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr will be the starting quarterback Week 1.

Charles JohnsonSep 1 05:42p

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agents WR Charles X. Johnson (Browns) and OG Karim Barton (Browns) to their practice squad Monday, Sept. 1.

Khalid WootenSep 1 05:32p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent CB Khalid Wooten (Titans) to their practice squad Monday, Sept. 1.

Phillip AdamsSep 1 04:52p

The New York Jets signed free-agents CB Phillip Adams (Seahawks) and released WR Quincy Enunwa Monday, Sept. 1.

Korey ToomerSep 1 04:22p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent LB Korey Toomer (Seahawks) and released CB Jemea Thomas Monday, Sept. 1.

Case KeenumSep 1 04:22p

The St. Louis Rams claimed QB Case Keenum off waivers from the Houston Texans Monday, Sept. 1.

Ryan SuccopSep 1 04:22p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) to an undisclosed deal and released PK Travis Coons Monday, Sept. 1.

James IhedigboSep 1 04:22p

Detroit Lions SS James Ihedigbo (leg), FS Don Carey (undisclosed) and LB Kyle Van Noy (abdomen) did not practice Monday, Sept. 1.

Garrett GilbertSep 1 04:03p

The St. Louis Rams signed free-agents QB Garrett Gilbert (Rams), LB Kevin Reddick (Saints), SS Matt Daniels (Rams), LB Denicos Allen (Panthers) and OT Sean Hooey (Rams) to their practice squad Monday, Sept. 1.

Bruce IrvinSep 1 03:52p

Seattle Seahawks WR Kevin Norwood (foot) and LB Bruce Irvin (hip) may play Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Corey PetersSep 1 03:32p

Atlanta Falcons DT Corey Peters (Achilles') is still iffy for the regular season opener. Head coach Mike Smith said he wants Peters to practice in pads Wednesday, Sept. 3, before making a decision.

Trai TurnerSep 1 03:12p

Carolina Panthers OG Trai Turner (groin) will start at right guard Sunday, Sept. 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to head coach Ron Rivera, though C Fernando Velasco may spot him at times.

Kyle WilliamsSep 1 03:02p

The Kansas City Chiefs released WR Kyle Williams Monday, Sept. 1.

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