Panthers head coach Ron Rivera joined the Tampa Bay media via conference call on Wednesday to discuss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. Rivera, who many thought would be fired after a disappointing 7-9 2012 season, has the Panthers playing their best football (8-3) since perhaps their 2003 Super Bowl season.
Rivera, who coached with Schiano, on Dave Wannstedt’s staff in Chicago, knows what Schiano is going through after starting last season 2-8 before winning five of their last six.
Rivera was asked what advice he would offer Schiano.
“Just stay the course,” Rivera said. “Look, he’s been successful, he’s had success, he was successful in college, major college football, he’s had some success as a coach in the NFL, now it’s just a matter of time. Last year I was in the same situation and we got on a roll at the end of the year and now this year we’ve gotten on a roll again. It’s just so hard to win in this league and you’ve got to develop your team first. I think people have to be willing to take the lumps and accept it. There was a time back in the day when guys would be drafted in the first and second round and nobody expected him to play until three-four years down the line. Now you draft a guy and everybody says why isn’t he on the field, he’s a bust.
“Well everybody wants that instant gratification and I think it’s the same thing when you bring in a new head coach and everybody says ‘He should be great at what he’s doing, they should be winning right now.’ Well, evaluate, be realistic in your evaluations and I think you get a better sense of how long it’s going to take, if you’re realistic. If you’re not looking pie in the sky you sit there and go ‘Wow they need to do this, they need to do that, that guy needs to develop, that guy needs time, oh they’ve got to replace this guy, or this guy’s got to grow.’ I like who Tampa Bay is going to become and they’re on their way. Coach Schiano’s doing a great job. It’s just again be patient and just stick with it.”
Rivera was then asked about what many thinks is the strength of the Bucs defense, the secondary.
“When you watch them – first of all they’re very physical, their safeties are as physical as anybody in the league,” Rivera said. “I think [safety Mark] Barron and [safety Dashon] Goldson are two of the more physical guys. I think when you at the way [cornerback Darrelle] Revis plays and you watch the young guys as they watch him, they’re learning to be aggressive and he’s a very aggressive player. I think their secondary took a little bit of time to round out, but now look at them. I think right now they’re playing as well as anybody.”
Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012, but Rivera said that Carolina was very high on Bucs linebacker Lavonte David also.
“I’ll tell you right now, Lavonte is someone we really liked coming into the draft when he came out,” Rivera said. “Solid football player, explosive football player, playmaker, does some good things, some very good things, and I’ll be honest I liked [linebacker] Mason Foster as well. I think there’s another good young linebacker that’s a part of your guys’ core. It’s a good football team you guys have.”
The Buccaneers were soundly beaten 31-13 by the Panthers on national television back on October 24, but Rivera said this is a different Bucs team than the one they played a month ago.
“[They’re] making plays,” Rivera said. “It’s the same guys that started the season. They’re playing as hard as they’ve always played. It’s just a matter of getting plays made and having the ball bounce their way. Go back and look at last week, the ball bounced their way and they took advantage. They were very opportunistic and again I think it’s all about taking time to develop and get a feel and an understanding. People are very quick to judge right now and I think the truth of the matter is everybody needs to slow down, take a look, evaluate and give it time. Now all of a sudden they’re starting to reap the benefits. Again it’s the same guys they’ve gotten more confidence because they’ve won a few games, deservedly so. They play hard.”
Part of the Bucs turnaround has been the solid play of quarterback Mike Glennon, a fact that isn’t lost on Rivera.
“Well like I said after we played you guys the first time, I think the young man’s got a great opportunity like [Tampa Bay Head Coach Greg] Schiano says, he could be a big part of what they do in Tampa for a long time,” Rivera said. “He’s got great poise in the pocket, he’s got a good arm, makes good decisions, he throws a nice ball, he doesn’t seem to panic, and I think that’s important when a young guy has confidence in his ability, his teammates feel the swagger, his confidence, and that permeates throughout the rest of the offense right through the team. I think he’s got what it takes and it’s just going to be a little bit more time for him to develop, to continue to be that quality football player that I think people are looking for in a franchise quarterback.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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