Carolina Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has a pretty good gig, being head honcho of a 13-0 team that might be the best in the NFL. Perhaps when he's done coaching, though, Rivera should consider a career in public relations. Rivera made an impassioned case Wednesday for New York Giants' coach Tom Coughlin, for the Giants themselves and for why the NFC East teams shouldn't apologize for the sorry state of the division.
Rivera was on the hot seat at just about this time last season when the Panthers were 3-8-1. He's had up-and-down seasons during five years in Carolina, and called it "amazing" that Coughlin's job always appears to be in question.
"Coach has had such a tremendous career, he's done so many great things and, again, this is the fortunes of the game. He's got a young football team, he's had to endure a lot of injuries, and a lot of the things that the Giants are going through mirrored us last year," Rivera said. "I think people have to really take a step back and take a deep breath. This is a cycle, it goes up and down. Shoot, about every three or four years, Coach Coughlin wins a Super Bowl. Well, that's pretty good.
"I think he's a tremendous coach; he's been someone who's actually taken my call and answered some questions for me a few years ago. He's been tremendous. I read his book. I mean, I just think everybody just needs to take a breath and see how things play out, let things fall into place. The hot seat thing kind of bothers me because it's unfair because some people don't look at the whole picture, or look at everything that coaches go through. If I had gotten let go last year in the middle of the year because I was on the hot seat, we may have never gotten where we are today. I just think sometimes people have to take a deep breath, think about the big picture, and then make decisions."
On the NFC East
Remember that the Panthers were 3-8-1 last season before making the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record. So Rivera has plenty of experience with where the Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles are currently.
"You've got nothing to apologize for. This about winning your division," Rivera said. "This just happens to be a down year for the NFC East, but if a team gets hot and gets on a roll like we did last year you can make some noise in the playoffs, which we did."
Rivera pointed out that he played for an 8-8 team that made the playoffs and won a first-round game.
"As far as I'm concerned it's part of the game. This is the way the game is. People talk about "you gotta change it." No! Why? To satisfy other people? This is the way it is and needs to stay. Hey, if the Giants make it good for them because remember a couple years ago they were 9-7, they weren't one of the best six records, yet they win the Super Bowl.
"There's no reason to apologize. They got in because they got hot, they won their division, gave themselves a chance, next thing you know they win the Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants they got nothing to apologize [for] if they put themselves in the playoffs.
"That's how I felt last year. I'm passionate about it because I've been in this league for almost 30 years and every time I turn around somebody wants to change something. This league has been going pretty well and things have been pretty good. Now all of a sudden people think it's not good enough. No! The league is fine."
On the Giants as a team
Rivera referred to the Giants as a "team that's still finding their footing in some respect."
"You watch them on Monday night and you see the explosiveness of what they have the ability to do on offense. You see that there's some talent. There really is," Rivera said.
"I've got a lot of respect for Eli. I think he's a tremendous football player. ... I think Odell Beckham is one of the elites in this league right now. There's a bunch of other guys around him that are play-makers. ... It's one of those teams that if you go to sleep on 'em they've got the ability to attack you."