D.J. Moore’s two fumbles against Washington were an undeniable part of the Carolina Panthers loss on Sunday. The conservative, old school head coach that Ron Rivera often epitomizes might have taken the rookie out of the game after his first fumble. Instead, Rivera kept Moore in the game. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner called plays that gave Moore opportunities to be a part of the come back attempt. Quarterback Cam Newton trusted the rookie enough to throw the ball to him.
Moore ended the day with four receptions for 59 yards. He was a contributor. That all traces back to Rivera’s decision to not bench him after his early struggles.
Why am I talking about this decision in a column dedicated to highlighting conservative decision making? For one, I roasted Rivera yesterday. I think he has earned the criticism that I published and I stand by it, but that doesn’t mean that everything he does is awful. He did some good things yesterday, like keeping Moore on the field, and that deserves to be talked about as well. For two, the Turtle is all about conservative decision making. It isn’t just pointing out when things go poorly because of decisions made, it can also be about praising successes when small risks are taken.
The point isn’t to suggest Rivera should always leap without looking. It is to encourage him to sometimes stick his neck on the line instead of burying his head in the sand when the odds are stacked heavily in his favor.
We talked enough yesterday about the fourth and one punt and the play calling backed up into their own end zone that helped Washington build their lead against the Panthers. That is a lost cause, anyway. Rivera has doubled down on his decision to punt and we all know he will do it again. Instead, let’s just say Rivera made the right choice with regards to Moore’s playing time yesterday. Hopefully Moore learned from this loss and will be ready to make an impact going forward in this season. Maybe his skills with the ball in his hands can help the Panthers avoid a few fourth and ones.