I admit I like the 'Riverboat Ron' persona and his sudden penchant for gambling on 4th down. It seemed to be just what the team needed as evidenced by the 8 game winning streak it seemed to spawn. Prior to this sudden change in tendencies I openly wondered if Rivera had what it takes as a coach to pull out the close games. You may recall he was 2-14 in games decided by 7 points or less. Of course he has greatly improved that record now.
Yet in spite of that obvious fault the old Rivera is still needed by this team, especially now. I'm referring to two things prevalent from Rivera's first two, less successful seasons. First off, in spite of being out of play off contention at this point the past two seasons Rivera never lost his locker room. The former player and SB champ has always related well to his players and kept their respect. Even those in his proverbial doghouse. Consequently I fully expect this team to bounce back this week from the ugly loss, something I couldn't always count on from a John Fox team.
The second thing Regular Ron brings is the ability to win in December. Even after last Sunday night's loss Rivera is now 8-4 after November, a obvious key to any team with post season aspirations. Now that the Panthers control their playoff destiny I am confident Rivera is just the coach to keep these guys focused in spite of the many reasons to get down. All they have to do is get into the playoffs and then anything can happen. After all six of the last eight Super Bowl winners were wildcard teams and the Panthers are 6-4 in the playoffs as well.
It's worth repeating...
Just get in the playoffs and anything can happen!