After a brutal loss in Chicago last week, now fans are at full roar about the coaching decisions of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and his staff. When you are 1-6 and have had many chances to win games, it’s understandable that Rivera would be the next scapegoat in line for sacrificing.
How much does Rivera deserve of the blame? Fans and media are not privy to half time talks. Nor do we have a great understanding of the game plans coaches put together from week to week.
But we do have something on our side to measure our coaches: Stats. Numbers don’t lie, and in the case of Rivera, the numbers are probably even more damning than on first glance.
Consider the following stats:
- The Panthers have held halftime leads or ties in 14 of 23 games in Rivera’s tenure so far.
- The Panthers have held the lead at some point in the game 19 of the 23 games Rivera has coached. They’ve won just seven of those games.
- Rivera’s teams have an overall first half lead over opponents in 2011 and 2012 (298-275) but are getting beat in the second half (236-321).
- The Panthers are getting slaughtered in the fourth quarter to the tune of 112-201 under Rivera.
What conclusions can we draw from this? Rivera’s game plans are solid, but when it comes to making adjustments on the fly, he’s fallen flat on his face. Part of this poor second half play can be attributed to having Cam Newton, an immensely talented quarterback, but one with very little actual playing experience over the past five years. Rivera doesn't fumble the ball or throw interceptions. But it is Rivera who puts his team in a position where one mistake by Newton can cost the team.
Rivera should shoulder most of the blame. It was Rivera who did not go for it against Atlanta when percentages showed it was almost a lock to get the first down. It was Rivera and staff who called the weakest defensive scheme possible that allowed Chicago to march down the field for a game-winning field goal last week. And it is Rivera who has notoriously flubs clock management.
If fans can clearly see Rivera’s weaknesses, surely other coaches see the same thing and exploit the Panthers in the second half of games. Coaches know that in crunch time, Rivera has not proved a worthy opponent.
At this point, Rivera and staff will need a heavy dose of magic to save their careers as Panther coaches. Richardson is listening to fans, and the fans have numbers to back it up: Rivera has been a below average game day coach.