Rivera Says Success ‘Validates’ the Process
CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — Ron Rivera’s Panthers have been to the playoffs three straight years, but maybe, not until Sunday’s 31-24 win over Seattle, has his team been true contenders.
“You strive to get into this position,” Rivera said. “That you are not just a perennial playoff team, but you are a challenger.”
Rivera referenced the heavy success of the Patriots as New England’s win over Kansas City on Saturday punched their fifth straight ticket to the AFC Championship game.
“That’s the gold standard,” Rivera said.
Rivera’s Panthers are on their way to that standard. In his fifth year with the team, the head coach has turned a team with a (2-14) record, when he inherited the job, into the favorite to win the NFC Title. Rivera says this season ‘validates everything that we have done so far’.
“It validates the patience and rightfully so the patience our owner has shown with us,” Rivera continued. “It has validated what Dave (Gettleman) and his group has done.”
But Rivera and the Panthers are not done–not even close. Arizona stands in the way of the franchise’s second trip to the Super Bowl. The Panthers beat the Cardinals in the playoffs last season but that was an Arizona team that played the latter half of the season without their quarterback, Carson Palmer.
“It’s a different type quarterback,” Rivera said.” It’s a veteran experienced guy that’s back there pulling the trigger.
They have tremendous tools. They have a good offensive line. They have play-makers, they have an aggressive style of attacking defense. And that’s what we just played.”
Tight end Ed Dickson echoes those sentiments about Arizona.
“They make a lot of plays, so we have to protect our quarterback first and foremost,” Dickson said.
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Dickson is one of the few players in the Panthers locker room who has conference championship game, or Super Bowl, for that matter, experience.
“If I had to give advice to my teammates, I would say: don’t change anything that we’re doing,” Dickson said. “Keep our personality. Be loose but focused and know your opponent like no other.”
The personality of the team is something that has been often criticized yet has been a rallying cry for the team. The energetic and repetitive celebrations, according to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, is part of enjoying the process.
“But, when its time to work we know how to get back to work,” Cotchery said of enjoying Sunday’s win over Seattle in comparison to preparing for Arizona.
Cotchery says the team will be focusing on the details this week. He says the team does not read into the second half of the Seattle game despite being shutout by the Seahawks.
“Those guys are champions over there, they came back and fought the second half and made a great game out of it,” Cotchery said. “Just correct what you need to correct and move forward from there.”