Rivera tells Panthers to take break from football after loss
Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants his players to get away from football, just for a little while.
A day after a humiliating 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina’s eighth-year coach said it may just be what the Panthers need.
“Sometimes, the best medicine is to forget about it and then come back ready to roll,” Rivera said, adding that they should focus on something other than football.
That advice doesn’t apply to Rivera and his coaching staff. Rivera said coaches will spend the next few days pouring over game film, looking for solutions and making adjustments, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, where the Panthers were overwhelmed by the Steelers in the road loss. The coach wouldn’t say if he’s considering changes to the starting lineup.
Quarterback Cam Newton was sacked five times and threw a pick-six out of desperation to avoid taking a safety, while the defense never was able to stop Ben Roethlisberger, who turned in a perfect QB rating (158.3) after throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns. The 52 points allowed tied the most in franchise history.
The Panthers (6-3) are still in good shape in the NFC playoff picture, but Rivera expressed concern knowing the NFL is a copycat league and upcoming opponents will look to simulate what the Steelers did against them.
“It is a beg, borrow and steal league,” Rivera said. “Guys are going to look at this tape and see what (the Steelers) did and have answers. We as coaches, as I said, are not done evaluating tape and going through it and trying to correct things.”
Pittsburgh brought more pass rushers than the Panthers were able to block, often resulting in 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back Christian McCaffrey trying to pick up linemen who outweighed him by almost 100 pounds. That didn’t go well.
Rivera said the Steelers threw some new looks at Carolina’s revamped offensive line and the guys up front didn’t recognize or adjust to them.
“Sometimes, you see things for the first time, things that they do a little differently, with a little twist to them. It makes things difficult,” Rivera said. “We have to be able to handle those things. We have to stick to our rules, our base fundamentals.”
Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense failed to generate much pressure on Roethlisberger. There were times he danced around in the pocket untouched for nearly 10 seconds.
Rivera plans to continue to rotate defensive linemen “until we find something that clicks on the pass-rush side.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) gets hammered by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt on Thursday night.