Rivera actually isn't upset about the level of play or the loss and here's why:
"We were in position to make plays, that is the best thing about it" Rivera said "Its not like we weren’t there, its not like we were getting out butts whipped. That is the thing I am OK with. We had opportunities and we didn’t make the plays, that’s the disappointing part. If we weren’t in position to make plays, I would be upset." "But I am not, I am just disappointed more so than anything else." Rivera added.
He does have a point. The Panthers dropped balls, missed tackles and got penalized at inopportune times. I'd like to think those things are correctable before the season opener. Besides, coaches hate the preseason. The keep the play calling vanilla, they play players out of position, they make decisions they normally wouldn't make.
I think Cam Newton has to hate the preseason for many of the same reasons. The fact the game plan calls for zero designed runs for Newton is a problem right out of the game. How else is he to keep the defense from dropping 8 players into coverage? Did you notice how once Joe Webb scrambled out of the pocket once things opened up for him? It's like your tying one of Cam's arms behind his back and expecting him to play just as he does mid-season.
Newton tends to put up at least one stinker every preseason. Game 2 vs the Dolphins last season went much like this past game. Newton was ineffective going 4 for 10 for 42 yards and INT. Joe Webb ended up bringing the Panthers back from behind to win by one point, scoring 22 points in the 2nd half. Sound familiar?
So where does Rivera go from here? He does have a rather simple solution.
Ron Rivera’s advice to the players on fixing these problems? Simple. "Lower those passes, catch the ball." Rivera said. "Catch the interceptions, make the sacks."
Rivera does not feel the Carolina Panthers are a long ways away from returning to that 2015 form. Quite the opposite, in fact. Rivera described the Panthers current stats as "right where we need to be".
While I agree I'm not worried so much about the offense. Once it gets real Cam and J-Stew will make things much harder on the opposing defense. No my biggest worry is the secondary. While rookie James Bradberry seems very sound in coverage Daryl Worley is proving to be a liability so far. Even worse though is that safeties Kurt Coleman and Tre Boston are playing the run like crap. Things have got to get better back there in a hurry.
So do you agree with Ron Rivera that the Panthers are right where they need to be?