Ron Rivera: 'Judge me on the last eight games'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday January 23, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 23, 2013

Ron Rivera knows his leash is short in Carolina right now.

After going 6-10 in his first season as head coach with the Panthers in 2011, Carolina began the 2012 season at 2-8 before winning five of its last six. That was enough for Rivera to keep his job for next season.

Rivera joined WFNZ in Charlotte and was asked about being criticized as too passive.

"I would agree the first eight games of the season, but watch the last eight. Judge me on those," Rivera said. "Everybody sits there and asks what have you done for me lately. What about the late eight? Believe me, I would not disagree about the first eight games of the season. But again, it goes back to having somebody to bounce things off of and one of the things we talked about was me taking charge of a lot of things and becoming a lot more emotional on the field.

"I don't know if you saw what happened when Cam (Newton) got hurt the second time. I didn't go to Cam. I went to the offensive line and told them this can't happen again. I've learned a lot, and I think that's the thing people have got to understand. It is about learning and growing and doing things a specific way, and maybe that's what these first two years are all about."

Asked what he's learned from his first two years has a head coach, Rivera admitted it has taken some time to adjust. Rivera was a defensive assistant or coordinator before landing the Panthers head coaching job. He understands you have to win in this league right away, and he thinks that's coming.

"I think the biggest thing is learning how to manage," he said. "I came into this really only having to control half a team, as far as offense and defense is concerned. The biggest thing I had to learn and grow is managing the entire football team. I think that's probably the biggest thing I've improved on. I believe I understand that. I get those need to be done. It's a learning process.

"I don't think there's an awful lot of head coaches that come in in their first two seasons that have never been head coaches in any level of football that have had success right away. Everybody wants to talk about Bill Belichick being the all-time greats. Remember, he struggled his first time out. Bill Walsh, he came in having been a college coach, but look at the success he had after his second year.

"For whatever reason, everybody demands demands demands automatic return on what they've done. It goes back to the saying, 'Rome wasn't built in day.' You've got to build it the right way, have got to put a great foundation down. I believe that's what we've done."

You can listen to Rivera's interview by clicking here.



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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