Tom Sorensen

These Carolina Panthers won’t quit on Ron Rivera, but will they make playoffs?

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera will keep his team together, and in the very average NFC South that means there’s a chance to make the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera will keep his team together, and in the very average NFC South that means there’s a chance to make the playoffs. AP

I heard somebody say that the problem with Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is that he doesn’t get excited on the sideline. Sure he does. He simply doesn’t feel obligated to show it every time a camera aims his way.

Rivera did some of his best work in 2014, a season not unlike this one. The Panthers were 3-8-1 when November ended. They finished 7-8-1, won the NFC South and beat Arizona in the playoffs.

Like 2014, the NFC South has no dominant team. The Falcons are 4-3, but they’ve lost two straight and their defense is as harmless as every other team in the division. Also, Carolina’s schedule is civilized. The only remaining superpower is Seattle; the Panthers play the Seahawks on the road Dec. 4. Five of Carolina’s remaining opponents have winning records, three have losing records, and two are 3-3.

Rivera can coach and his players respect him enormously. You’ve never seen his team quit on him and you never will. But he’s not going to get the Panthers to the playoffs this season.

How do the Panthers suddenly get to the passer, how do they suddenly stay with receivers and how do they suddenly prevent opponents from getting to their quarterback? They don’t.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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