Ron Rivera didn’t have the greatest of endings to his time as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. A Week 13 loss to the Washington Redskins was his final undoing that led him to be let go the next day. Ironically enough, his next coaching job may be with those same Washington Redskins, as PFN Insiders Tony Pauline and Ben Allbright noted in our Black Monday Tracker. Moving that aside for now, let’s look at Ron Rivera’s coaching profile as we enter another exciting coaching carousel.
Rivera will be 58 years old on January 7. He was born in Fort Ord, California and played college football at UC Berkeley. Rivera was the 44th overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played nine seasons in Chicago.
Rivera began his coaching career in 1997 as a defensive quality control coach for the Bears for two seasons. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and was their linebackers coach until 2003.
Rivera returned to the Bears again in 2004 and spent three seasons as their defensive coordinator. In 2007, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers and became their defensive coordinator in 2008, a job he held for three years.
In 2011, Rivera finally became an NFL head coach when he took the reigns for the Carolina Panthers. He coached for almost nine full seasons, winning three NFC South titles and appearing in the playoffs four times. Rivera led the Panthers to a berth in Super Bowl 50 where they lost to the Denver Broncos. Rivera compiled a regular-season record of 76-63-1 and was 3-4 in the postseason.
Why Rivera deserves another shot
Rivera has a fantastic leadership quality about him, and it runs in his family. His father served in the U.S. military.
When Rivera was let go, he took part in one final press conference, showing his utmost sincerity and appreciation to the organization and the Carolina media. The players loved him, and had nothing but great things to say about Rivera. It’s not often you see a coach get fired but get the chance to gracefully walk out the door like Rivera did.
You can argue there might only be one coach with a better resume at the moment than Rivera, and that’s former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who has a Super Bowl title to his name. But McCarthy left Green Bay on sour terms, while Rivera was always held in high regard by the Panthers’ organization.
Rivera needed just three years to take the Panthers from 2-14 to 12-4 and an NFC South title. Rivera led the Panthers on a string of three straight NFC South titles, including the 15-1 regular season in 2015 and a trip to Super Bowl 50.
There is no doubt Rivera should lead an NFL team next season. He has the pedigree, the leadership, and the ability to turn a franchise around and create a strong product on the field of play.
Just look no further than what some of his former players said about him after he was let go by the team. (H/T Josh Klein of The Riot Report on the quotes)
Running Back Christian McCaffrey
All I can say is I’m so appreciative. Coach Rivera drafted me top ten, he really believed in me, he gave me a shot, and HE’s been nothing but a role model and a mentor to all of us. I’m very fortunate to have played three years for him – I know he’ll land on his feet somewhere.
I think I speak for not just this team but the entire Charlotte community, North Carolina, South Carolina….I’m very thankful for everything that he did. I think he pushed me to not just be a good player, but to be a vocal leader, to understand your position and what it takes to win – sometimes it takes more than making plays, you have to bring a lot of people along with you.
He pushed me in ways like that – he really cared about who you were as a person. He asked about my family all the time; that’s more than you can say about a lot of people. He genuinely cared. He was such a genuine human being – he meant what he said and he said what he meant.”
From a player’s perspective, coming in here, he drafted me at 20 years old – I didn’t know what I was getting into. He met me and my family at the doors when I walked in, he shook my hand, and gave my mom a hug. From there on, I knew what kind of person he was and I knew what kind of team he had. If you look at the guys who have stuck around for his coaching career, guys like Greg, guys like Cam, guys like Luke, guys like Thomas Davis and Julius Peppers, those are the kind of players that he wanted to coach. I think that’s a testament to who he is as well.
Tight End Greg Olsen
This is as bad a day as I’ve been a part of in the NFL. To lose a coach and have a coaching change at the top, I’ve never gone through it before. I’ve played for 13 seasons and I’ve only played for two head coaches and Ron was nine years of that. To have him come say his goodbyes and say our goodbyes after nine years of a lot of great moments that we’ve shared together, football and non-football related, is terrible.
Ron means a lot to a lot of guys in here for a lot of things outside of football and I think the biggest thing you hear from guys today – current players, former players – guys who played for him in different organizations, I think the biggest consistent narrative is how much he meant to guys aside from just the fact that he was their football coach.
Rivera hopefully walked out of here with his head held high, that he impacted a lot of people’s lives and you’re never going to find a person that’s come across him that’s going to have one negative thing to say about him. That’s rare in this world.”
What Rivera will walk into with the Redskins
If all goes according to plan, Rivera will be the next coach of the Redskins. If he takes the job, he almost goes back to 2011 in a sense. He’ll take over a Redskins team that went 3-13 in 2019 and has a young quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, similar to the job he took with the Panthers in 2011, taking over a 2-14 team and eventually pairing with Cam Newton, whom the team took with the number one overall pick in that year’s draft.
He also inherits a defense with excellent pass-rushing abilities and a great defensive line, including Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis. Montez Sweat will be in his second season and will be coming off a strong rookie campaign, with 50 tackles and seven sacks.
While he may not be one for revenge based on his character, the NFL schedule will certainly set up that narrative. Carolina will visit Washington next season and he will make his return to North Carolina as the opposing coach in 2021.