I sense that perhaps a few fans seem a wee bit dissatisfied with the recent performances of our beloved Panthers. Some of these fans are even suggesting that coaching might be to blame; and even voice an opinion that we might be better off replacing Ron Rivera before the bye week. Of course, once we begin to discuss possible replacement coaches, the conversation quickly jumps the shark.
Look, the season is already underway. Absolutely NO current college coaches, or current NFL coordinators, are going to breach their contracts to come in to be an interim coach for a franchise in such disarray that they fire their coach 3 games into the season. It simply isn't going to happen. And those suggesting that an ex-coach like Cowher or Grudin are going to save the day by implementing the same plan that won them Super Bowls; well, even if they were going to give up their cushy lucrative broadcast jobs for the esteemed position as Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers (one of the few things on earth less likely than Ron Rivera going for it on fourth down), they wouldn't be able to implement new schemes and playbooks in a week or two. In fact, they'd probably desist from touching anything until the off-season. As a matter of fact, they'd probably avoid the job completely until the off-season. Face it, if Rivera is fired before the end of the season, his replacement will be an interim promotion from within. This isn't simply a matter of "the answer is already on the roster" as much as it is that it's impossible to replace entire playbooks mid-season and expect to catch up with teams which have had the entire off-season plus training camp to study their game plan.
With that in mind, who could the Panthers promote who would be an improvement over Ron Rivera? Well, one criticism of Rivera has always been his utter lack of head coaching experience. Is there anyone in the organization who is familiar with the current scheme who has been a head coach before? The only person I can think of who does is Mike Shula. Sure, it was only at the college level, and he wasn't particularly successful, but Shula was the head coach at Alabama for four seasons - longer than Rivera has been coach of the Panthers. He at least has some experience in operating a football program, which is more than can be said of anyone else on our staff.
"But", I can hear people grumbling, "he's not even a good Offensive Coordinator". Yes, I know. He wasn't very good at Tampa Bay, and he hasn't demonstrated a whole lot yet this season (personally, I liked his dink and dunk plan in week 1 much better than his heave and hope in week 2). But see, that's the beauty of promoting him to head coach - the Panthers would need to promote someone else to OC! Think about it, who would you rather have designing and calling plays for this team: Jim Skipper, Ken Dorsey, Ricky Proehl, or Mike Shula? Who would be better at developing an identity for our offense? Exactly - any of the position coaches would be better at developing a game plan for our talent and giving us an identity than Shula appears to be doing.
That's not to say that after we blow out the Giants 42-3 on Sunday, and use our momentum to come off our bye to sweep our division and crush the 49ers and Patriots, that I expect anyone to be fired. But hypothetically, if by some chance we unexpectedly lose to the Giants in the 4th quarter and our unlucky coach were to get replaced, we could conceivably promote from within and get an experienced head coach AND a new offensive coordinator. And then the unicorns will graze on the turf at BoA Stadium under a sky full of rainbows while we all sing Kumbaya on our way to the playoffs!
Nurse...where are my meds!