Ron Rivera: 5 Facts About Carolina Panthers' New Coach
Coming off a 2-14 season that saw them earn the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Rivera will have a lot of work to do with the Panthers. Is he the right man for the job? His predecessor, John Fox, lasted nine seasons in Carolina with only three playoff berths. Rivera will have to be better.
Get to know the man who will be leading the Panthers in 2011.
1. Rivera is no stranger to head coaching opportunities
While Rivera has never been a head coach, he's not new to the NFL head coaching carousel. Rivera has been discussed as a head-coach-in-waiting dating back to his work as Bears' defensive coordinator from 2004-2006. All told, Rivera has interviewed for nine jobs through the years.
2. He's versatile
Since Rivera was first linked to the Carolina job, many began to wonder if he would convert the Panthers to the 3-4 scheme he used in San Diego after the Panthers ran a (at times dominant) 4-3 scheme throughout Fox's tenure. But Rivera has experience in both schemes. As defensive coordinator of the Bears, he led a very tough defense that finished No. 2 in 2005 and No. 5 in 2006 that carried the team to the Super Bowl. Those teams played 4-3 schemes.
3. He's a pioneer
After the Bears made him a second-round pick in 1984, Rivera -- a linebacker -- became the first Puerto Rican/Mexican player in the NFL. When the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985, Rivera became the first such player to appear in a Super Bowl.
4. Coaching runs in the family
Rivera's wife, Stephanie, was an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.
5. Expect good things from Jon Beason in 2011
As a former linebacker and linebacker coach, Rivera has used his experience to mentor and develop two of the best middle linebackers of their generation -- Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Urlacher. As the Panthers' middle linebacker, and a pretty good one already at that, Beason should flourish under Rivera.