Ron Rivera will be the 2013 NFL Coach of the Year for the brilliant work he has done with the Carolina Panthers.
The electric squad is sitting pretty at 11-4 and has earned a ticket to the postseason dance. However, coaching in January was the last thing Rivera expected to be doing after his team started off the year with a dismal 1-3 start.
If anything, the former Chicago Bears linebacker would be watching from home after getting the pink slip. But Rivera was the engineer of a brilliant turnaround and energized the Panthers to an eight game win streak.
Carolina has gone 6-10 and 7-9 in the past two seasons, respectively. Riverboat Ron is at the heart of this superb season; he deserves to be recognized for his efforts and gutless decisions.
After the Panthers lost to the lowly Buffalo Bills back in Week 2, they were boasting a dismal 0-2 record. Since that game, the team has faced 12 fourth and one situations. Rivera has gone for it nine times and his team has responded by converting eight of those times (h/t Sports on Earth). Their 77 percent success rate on fourth down is third in the entire league (h/t NFL Stats).
Most coaches wouldn’t make the calls that Ron Rivera makes, but those calls are necessary to get the win.
The head honcho in Carolina has become fearless this season. He has Cam Newton playing some of the best football of his career and leads a defense with the firepower to match their young signal caller. The Panthers are seventh in the league when defending the pass and rank second in the NFL against the run (h/t ESPN Clubhouse Stats).
The Carolina defense has a -44.2 EPA (Expected Points Added, an advanced NFL stat that measures the impact a unit had on the score of a game) and a -0.50 WPA (Win Probability Added, which measures the impact a unit had on the outcome of a game). The WPA is fourth in the NFL, and the EPA is good for third (h/t Advanced NFL Stats).
But, one doesn’t need advanced stats to tell that Rivera has made an incredible impact this year in Carolina.
His coaching abilities also extend to the offensive side of the ball where Newton has been erasing all memories of his dismal sophomore slump. “Superman” capped his amazing season with a 14-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 17-13 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 (h/t ESPN).
The victory clinched the team’s first playoff berth since 2008, a testament to what Rivera has done this season. His squad can win the NFC South for the first time since that same year with a win against the reeling Atlanta Falcons next week.
When the chips were down, and the odds were against him, Riverboat Ron persevered and never gave up hope. His work spent creating the most dramatic comeback in the NFL will be rewarded handsomely and, because of that, Ron Rivera is the clear choice for Coach of the Year.