CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Rivera anticipates being back for a year as the head trainer of this Carolina Panthers, even though missing the playoffs for the 2nd time in three seasons.
“I’m very good about any of it,” Rivera said Friday when asked about his future with this team. “My aim, and everything I’ve already been doing, is working ahead, and we’re going to go from there. My conversations with the dog owner have been all positive.”
Firstyear owner David Tepper has not publicly said Rivera is likely to return next season, but several sources close to the problem say the two-time NFL Coach of the season is still safe.
Rivera in January has been handed an extension through 2020 until Carolina founder Jerry Richardson sold the team to Tepper. Now, the Panthers were headed to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Panthers (6 9 ) began this year with a 6-2 record and seemed to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender with quarterback Cam Newton playingin their own words, the best football of his career.
A blowout loss in Tepper’s hometown of Pittsburgh, however, started a seven-game losing streak. Throughout that period, Newton’s right shoulderthat was surgically repaired during the 2017 off season, became overly tender and feeble that he was shut down for the last two games.
If the Panthers lose to the saints on Sundaythey are going to turn into the first team since the league expanded to some 16-game program in 1978 to go from 6-2 to 610.
“I am disappointed. I truly am frustrated,” Rivera said of how this year went. “The hard part about it is [that] losing is truly unsatisfactory, but sometimes you feel as if you let down some people. That’s probably among the things that I’ve struggled with, knowing that I presume we’re a lot better than our record says. But at the end of your day, you are what your record is.”
Five of the seven declines in this streak came with a touchdown or not, including a 12-9 setback to the Saints a couple of weeks past.
“That has been the hardest pill for me to consume,” Rivera explained. “We had some chances. We had some opportunities. Games were within our grasp, but we didn’t get it done. That is the hard thing for me to just accept .”