Ron Rivera: A Gamble That Paid Off

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Ron Rivera was faced with a difficult task to start this year. The Carolina Panthers finished second in the NFC South Division with a 7-9 record yet some where calling for him to be fired. Both Rivera and the Panthers gambled on the 2013 season and it paid off. The man that has been called River Boat Ron was able to improve upon the team’s 2012 record and lead the Panthers to a 12-4 record along with a division title.

The Panthers announced that they have agreed to a three-year contract extension for Rivera on Tuesday. The extension is worth between $4 million and $5 million per year with playoff incentives. Prior to the extension, Rivera was entering the last year of a deal that averaged around $3 million per year.

Good coaches leave their direct fingerprint on their teams. The Panthers are a team that is fueled by it’s defense. One player that has grown the most under middle linebacker, Luke Kuechley. Kuechley has played so well that his name has been thrown into the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Thomas Davis has also elevated his game under the tutelage of Rivera. Coincidentally, Rivera was  linebacker himself for the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears.

Prior to his entering the NFL, Rivera was a standout linebacker for the University of California, Berkeley. He actually was named the MVP of the 1984 East-West Shrine Game.

The doubts that many had in Rivera have now been turned into votes for the Coach of The Year award. I personally felt that he never should have been in the hot seat. This was prior to the eight game winning streak that the Panthers posted last season. The Pro Football Writer’s Association selected Rivera as their Coach of the Year.