RON RIVERA FLIES UNDER THE RADAR
As the Head Coach of the Super Bowl runner-up Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera has had a good level of success. But outside of North Carolina, the average NFL fan might have a hard time telling you the name of the Panthers Head Coach.
While there are much more recognizable names among NFL coaches such as Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Rex Ryan, Rivera quietly goes about the business of building a championship caliber team in Charlotte.
Rivera was an All-American linebacker in college for the University of California. In the 1984 NFL Draft he was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bears.
With the Bears he played under legendary defensive coach Buddy Ryan where he learned some of the defensive concepts that shaped the Bears top ranked defenses.
After his playing career ended, Rivera began his coaching career with those same Bears in 1997 eventually becoming the team’s defensive coordinator in 2004 after spending a few years in Philadelphia as the linebackers coach.
He also spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers before being named the Panthers Head Coach in 2011.
Known as a teacher throughout the league and a coach who had a lot of expertise of the defensive side of the ball, Rivera was asked to turn around a 2-14 team that he inherited.
Coming from a military background (his father was a U.S. Army officer), Rivera always believed in the proper chain of command and key principles he learned growing up.
“Coming from a military background, there’s a lot of discipline, a lot of structure. That’s how I feel when I coach,” Rivera said.
So he went about installing those principles in his team and it’s players. He took the team in year one to a 6-10 record with a slight improvement in year two at 7-9.
Although there was some speculation about Rivera losing his job after the 2012 season, the team made the right decision by keeping him. The following season he led them to the first of three straight division titles and a 12-4 record.
The Panthers have become one of the top defensive teams in the NFL under Rivera’s tutelage and the team has grown with Rivera along with stars Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly leading the team on both sides of the ball.
Rivera does not present himself as one of those high-profile coaches with interesting quotes for the media. He does however, believe in hard work, attention to detail and preparation.
Those are the traits he has instilled in his team and they are a big reason why the Panthers have emerged as a Super Bowl favorite for the coming NFL season.
So during his 27 years in the league as a player and coach, you can be certain that the players, coaches and executives around the league know him quite well.
Sooner or later, the casual NFL fan will as well.