Panthers Remain Positive
It sounds like typical rah-rah talk, but it's Ron Rivera's job to make the Panthers believe they can make the playoffs, even if you don't.
Week after week, the Panthers lose. Week after week, they remain in the playoff hunt.
Eventually, they will run out of time to snap their funk. But as his team entered their bye week, the always-optimistic Ron Rivera was yet again preaching the power of positive thinking.
“We’ve got five games left to play,” he said. ”If we take care of business in all five games, and one or two things happen, then we win the division. That’s how simple it is. If we take care of our business and one other thing happens, we win the division. That’s how crazy it is.”
It almost sounds crazy to think a team that has lost five straight games could rattle of five consecutive wins. But it is Rivera’s job to believe it can be done, and the terrible NFC South and a soft schedule ahead has left the door slightly open.
The combined records of the Panthers’ remaining opponents — Minnesota, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Atlanta — is 20-30. The Browns are the only team of the bunch with a winning record.
Before they attempt to rally their season, the Panthers have a few days to rest up in what is the latest bye week in franchise history.
“I would have loved to have had it earlier based on all the injuries we had,” Rivera said.
But coaches and players typically claim the bye week came at a good time whenever they have it. So if the Panthers come out of it with some wins, perhaps this late one came at a perfect spot in the schedule.
“We’ll find out. We get on that roll, and we finish up, we could turn around and say, ‘You know what, that was the best time to have a bye.’”
Another issue facing Rivera, though, is he has never won after a bye. He is 0-3 in the regular season, and the Panthers lost in the playoffs last year after earning the bye that came with the NFC’s second seed.
In an effort to do something to change that record, Rivera gave his players an extra day off this week. They practiced just once — on Tuesday — and then they headed their separate ways.
When they return to work on Monday, most outside the building will still be rolling their eyes when they hear talk about a possible playoff run. But inside the building, they still will not acknowledge 2014 as a possible lost season.
“Not in my room. No way, no way, no way, never,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “We still have a chance. I’ve been in this league 15 years, and to be where we are record-wise and still have a chance in November and December, you say, ‘Wow.’
“But the name of the game is to get in. If you get in, you give yourself a chance.”