Scott Fowler

Ron Rivera on NFL Red Zone: Put down the remote and no one gets hurt

With his team in a bye week, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera tried to watch the NFL Red Zone channel last Sunday. It didn’t go well.
With his team in a bye week, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera tried to watch the NFL Red Zone channel last Sunday. It didn’t go well. AP

While a number of NFL junkies swear by the various Red Zone channels on Sunday afternoons, don’t count Panthers coach Ron Rivera among them. He would much rather be coaching and focusing on a single game rather than watching a channel that jumps around to different games every few minutes.

Rivera had his first experience watching such a channel last Sunday, during Carolina’s bye week.

“I watched the Red Zone and man, I got a headache,” Rivera said. “I’m watching a game, it’s getting interesting and all of a sudden I’m watching another game, and it’s like ‘What the heck happened?’ I’m grabbing the remote, I don’t know how to work the remote, I had to give it to the wife. ... It was a little too much.”

▪  USC = U SPLIT, COACH: Was it not strange that both USCs – Southern Cal and South Carolina – officially lost their head football coaches on the very same day? The Gamecocks’ Steve Spurrier officially announced his resignation on Tuesday, the very same day Southern Cal AD Pat Haden fired Steve Sarkisian (for alcohol-related behavior issues). 

▪  HEY FRED, WHAT’S UP WITH BARNEY? Man, what is going on with Cleveland tight end Gary Barnidge? He was at Carolina from 2008-12, and the Panthers hardly ever threw him the ball. When he was used, he usually blocked and the ball went to Greg Olsen – which seemed perfectly understandable.

But at Cleveland, at age 30 and in his eighth year, Barnidge is finally having a coming-out party.

Barnidge made a remarkable catch against Baltimore last week, trapping the ball with his legs in the end zone for a touchdown.

“I always told Barney he had hands like feet,” joked Panthers coach Ron Rivera.

After never catching more than 13 passes in a season, Barnidge already has 24 receptions for 374 yards this season. The person throwing him the ball is another former Panther – Josh McCown. 

▪  AGAINST THE ODDS: I liked the call New Orleans coach Sean Payton made deep in the third quarter Sunday night. On fourth-and-goal from the 4 – and then again from the 2 after a defensive offsides – Payton went for the TD with his team ahead 17-7.

The reasoning: A field goal still keeps it a two-score game. A touchdown makes it a three-score game. Most coaches kick a field goal there, but it doesn’t do that much good. New Orleans scored the touchdown, and Atlanta never recovered.

▪  DEFLATE STATE: Wow, throwing a fully inflated ball sure has been slowing Tom Brady down.  

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