Sunday, October 28, 2012

Major coaching mistakes contribute heavily to Panther loss

CHICAGO -- The Carolina Panthers lost to Chicago, 23-22, on Sunday, and there is plenty of blame to go around as the team threw away a 19-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.

But let’s concentrate a minute on the coaching. Head coach Ron Rivera and his staff made two awful decisions in this game that helped the Bears to a win – and sent Carolina (1-6) reeling to its fifth straight loss.

Decision 1: With Carolina ahead 13-7 and three seconds to go before halftime, the Panthers had the ball at the Chicago 33. Justin Medlock – who already had made two field goals and won the field-goal competition in the preseason primarily because he has such a strong leg -- had a chance at a 50- or 51-yard field goal.

Instead, Rivera skipped the field goal and decided to try a desperation heave into the end zone. Cam Newton then threw the ball almost through the goalposts. No points for Carolina – in a game decided by one point.

What was the downside of going for the field goal? Practically zero. If Medlock misses, so what? The half’s over.

Only a block and a return for a touchdown could have hurt Carolina. Rivera’s reasoning on why not to go for the field goal, taken from the transcript of his postgame press conference: “Well, because of the cross wind and stuff like that, that ball comes out at that point. It’s getting pushed. That was one of the concerns. We thought our best bet was to throw it into the end zone and see what happens. In hindsight, you can say that maybe we should have gone ahead and tried it…. It’s easy to second-guess at this point.”

Decision 2: With the Panthers ahead 22-20 and Chicago needing a field goal to win, the Bears start at their own 22 and with 2:20 on the clock. Carolina goes into a soft zone defense, keeping all the Bears’ receivers in front of them. The problem: there’s way too much time left for this strategy. The Bears basically run the same play all the way down the field – a 10-12 yard pass to Jay Cutler’s left, in front of cornerback Josh Norman, usually to Brandon Marshall – and finish the game with a field goal at the final gun.

Panther players were careful not to criticize their coaches directly after the game, but several did point out the Bears ran the same play over and over against the same coverage.

Rivera’s reasoning: “We were trying to keep the ball in front of us. It’s one of those things where if you jump it and they double move you, now all of a sudden it’s a touchdown or the ball is in field goal range. We were trying to make them systematically beat us. They got in field-goal position, and you take your chances at that point.”

The part that sticks out to me in that quote? “We were trying to make them systematically beat us.”

Well, if that was the goal, the Panthers certainly succeeded.

Now the work Rivera and his team did Sunday – a lot of it was good. Although the “kick-it-away-from-Devin-Hester” strategy was ugly at times, it was pretty effective. Taking the zone-read out of the running game was a positive. The defensive front four played really well.

But you lose a game like this – one the Panthers really should have won, as they outgained the Bears almost 2-to-1 in yardage – it is the kind of game that haunts people and gets them fired.

“I don't know what to say,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “We just get our hearts ripped out every week.”

22 comments:

Adam said...

Yawn....different year. Same result..The chatter for NFL in LA and/or across the pond in London is started to make me wonder.. How big of a deal would it be to lose the NFL in the Carolina's when all you've ever really known was losing year after year? Coaching is a big See-Ya after season end. Glad NCAA Basketball Season is starting!

Anonymous said...

Rivera is an idiot. I've been saying this since this time last year. The Panthers need a coach that has coaching experience!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more about the final drive. Can the Panthers coaching staff do simple subtraction? The way they played it looked like they thought the Bears needed a touchdown to win because they HANDED them the field goal.

DonnaNCMom said...

Wow, another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. In the words of Lowell George, I've been down, but not like this before. This one goes to coaching mistakes. Execution by the offense was somewhat improved; defense stood up and took care of business, mostly; but poor decision-making on the coaching side cost us the game.

dangburnit said...

I couldn't agree more about the decision to NOT go for the field goal. We were merely playing in the windy city, NOT freakin' hurricane Sandy. I would put money on the field goal being closer off of the kicker's foot than Cam's Hail Mary pass. Cam....it will NOT be a touchdown or reception if the ball is not in the field of play. Very similar to the "TD" pass attempt to Hartsock against Seattle...if it isn't anywhere near a player, there is zippo of a chance.

CBAX said...

Jerry needs to systematically fire Rivera. He is in way over his head. There is no excuse in letting the Bears drive down the field running the same play. Coaching mistakes period......

Anonymous said...

Ron Rivera's record when playing in games decided by 8 or fewer points: 1-11.

I know coaching changes mid-season aren't the best idea, but when you lose this many games in the 4th quarter something's gotta give. Big Cat, do this team a favor and get rid of Ron Rivera.

Anonymous said...

This one's on the coaches. But I'll give you two more big mistakes, Scott. Fourth and inches, up 19-7, clock down to about 8 minutes. With a 6'5" 250 lb qb, there's no way you don't pick up those inches on a sneak. Hello, Atlanta game? Remember? Why not push those three inches and salt the game away. So we punt. Now mistake number two. Our coaches have scared our rookie punter (who's done a nice job all year) so bad that he shanks a 6 yard punt. Why tell him how big and bad Hester is and we can't kick it to him? Kid was so nervous that he missed. I don't blame him, I blame the coaches.

Anonymous said...

Jerry needs to take action now. I like Willams but trade hime while you can. Get something. Same goes for Steve Smith. After that, you can let the coaching staff go. They cannot motivate and panic at the end of games.

Anonymous said...

Jerry needs to systematically fire Rivera. Dumb decision making game after game just proves to me that he is way in over his head. Go back to being a "D" coordinator.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting nothing more nothing less. Coaches are finished

Anonymous said...

Losing year after year? What team are you talking about? Maybe for the last 4 years but aside from that, this team has been relatively successful in its short tenure.

I can't believe the time out route on 1st down is not being brought up. That is the play/playcall that lost us the game more than anything in my mind. This isn't Madden, why in the world would you pass in that situation?

Anonymous said...

We are stuck with Ron for two more years of this crap because JR is to cheap to fire a guy with two years to go on a contract. Should help us to four years of high draft picks for the next guy.

Anonymous said...

Panthers are playing well enough to win against the NFL's best. This offensive effort was against a great D. Unfortunately the bottom line is the W and when those are lacking, scapegoating is the predictable outcome. Cam's 56 QB rating and fumble at the goal (he seemed unconcerned about that one oddly) could be pointed out, but game-time coaching was questionable at times. Had we won, none of that would have mattered.

Anonymous said...

Rivera is a soft coach hired from a soft program (San Diego). He's a good guy I'm sure, but not what he's being paid to be. No experience and a poorly picked staff. Newton's fragile psyche is taking a beating and he may or may not be able to recover. They are well on the way to another number 1 pick. Bad coaching and management all the way around.

Anonymous said...

Prevent defense.... prevent what? Winning?

This is especially stupid given the job the Defensive Line was doing. When something is working for God's sake keep doing it.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank the Carolina Panthers for freeing up my Sundays for the rest of the year.

Mark D. said...

My opinion. Rivera will be fired tomorrow (Monday). He would have been fired last week but Richardson gave him one more week since it meant so much to Rivera for him to coach in Chicago. especially with the bad coaching decisions today. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Just watch the first 3 seconds of the post game with Rivera.. this says it all.. nice guy, bad leader

http://www.panthers.com/media-vault/videos/Postgame-Reaction/082d7a49-96e4-45b9-ab01-1006eebabde5

Anonymous said...

Its now obvious why Rivera has been passed over for so many years now. HE SUCKS! what a joke, I could do better than this clown. Thanks Hurney for putting us in this God awful mess. I hope they fire Rivera tonight.

Anonymous said...

I thot it was all Armanti's fault.

Skeezix said...

The Panthers were a joke last year, the year before that and are a bad joke this year. Time to clean house. The coaching in the last 2 minutes was awful.