Ron Rivera is a mixed bag at best.
In the first two years I didn't notice a lot of players getting coached up. But in the third year at lest, it seems some of the players are definitely showing improvement. Whether it is simply from experience, or from coaching its hard to say. The defense has been the most obvious place to see it. But I've noticed an improvement on the offensive side of the ball as well at lest in the passing game. Running the ball for the panthers has rarely been an issues ever.
Dave Gettleman has been amazing. A strong draft. (I'm hopefully for the two that have spent there time injured. Kugbila, Edmund and Kenjon, Barner), and a very strong if quiet off-season acquisitions with Ted Ginn, Chase Blackburn, Drayton Florence, Mike Mitchell, Quintin Mikell, and Domenik Hixon. But it didn't stop there, we actually managed to get better during the season something. When guys went down he found good replacements. But he didn't stop once the season started. If the guys weren't playing up to the level he expected he did something. Whether it was the heart breaking trade of Beason, to timing the fat like with King. I truly never recall Marty Hurney doing is make changes to the roster in mid season. Aside from filling in the occasional injury. If he will continue to do this or even if he should after the first couple years is what I'm most interested in seeing.
Cam is looking great this year. And has most of the season. Cams interceptions seem to be getting the Romo treatment. A good quarterback that crumbles under high pressure. The run game has looked as good as ever with Williams as our main back. Though he hasn't found the end zone a lot. Tolbert has been a good short down back and a real good full back. Gin has been a great addition to the team. He is reminding me of a young Steve Smith in some ways. While he doesn't seem to have Steve's ability to break the tackle or as elusive, his ability to get open is definitely there. LaFell has been underrated for a long time. Having Gin seems to have opened him up a lot more. And aside from a few drops(All of our receivers seem to have the dropsies this season) he's been very clutch. Cam seems to have changed a lot after seeing Steve go down early in the season. And I think that more then anything else has been the difference for him. Realizing that the star can fade and can be humbled has made him spread it around and trust the others.
The defense is the star this year. And for all Star and Short are playing worthy of there draft picks. I think Melvin White and Robert Lester are the bigger story. A pair of undrafted rookies have started, and played every bit as good as Star and Short have. That along with McDermott new found aggressiveness in his blitzes has made the biggest impact this season. In fact I can't remember the last time we had this many undrafted rookies on the team. But boy does it feel good to have them on our team instead of listening to them make plays against us.
The season thus far
Sitting at 3-3 and facing a 0-6 bucks team feels me with dread. This game screams trap for a mile away and I don't think I'll feel confident on the season till likely week 11 after we've faced the 49ers. We've done great against teams with trouble. Against good teams we have lost. And we continue to have trouble after a bye with Rivera for what ever reason.