Carolina Panther coach Ron Rivera sounded a little like he was singing Journey's 1980s megahit "Don't Stop Believin" Monday during his day-after press conference following Carolina's 30-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Rivera once again fully took the blame on the clock management miscue at the end of the first half that allowed New Orleans kicker John Kasay to leisurely boot a 46-yard field goal. But he also said that the Panthers continue to make progress and that when they got better it would happen in a hurry.
"We believe it’s going to get better," Rivera said. "We believe when it turns it’s going to be really good. And it is about believing. We have the opportunity to build something very special here.... We're growing and we’re getting better and that’s what it really gets down to. Sure it’s a process -- it’s a matter of time. But this is a different set of circumstances, we have to grow and get better. I’d like to do it faster, sooner rather than later, but unfortunately we haven’t figured that out yet."
As you look through the statistics, though, it is hard to imagine the Panthers are 1-4 at this point.
All five of their games -- including Sunday's 30-27 home loss to New Orleans -- have been decided by seven points or fewer. They have 112 first downs compared to their opponents' 86 and average 62 more yards per game overall than their opponents. Rookie quarterback Cam Newton may look utterly forlorn after every loss but he is also the first player in NFL history to have at least five rushing and five passing TDs in his first five games.
Still, they're 1-4. But Rivera -- who was obviously frustrated last week and said publicly it was time for the team to "grow up" -- has changed gears this week and is acting more like a cheerleader for a team that really needs one.
One injury note: Omar Gaither, the linebacker and Charlotte native who plays mostly in passing situations, has a knee injury that Rivera said would likely keep him out 2-4 weeks.