The Carolina Panthers hired Ron Rivera as their fourth head coach on Tuesday and he has plenty of work to do to turn around a team that was 2-14 in 2010 and is missing pieces.
He is a disciple of the mad men of defense, Buddy Ryan of the Bears and the late Jim Johnson of the Eagles, whose defenses featured marauders who made quarterbacks uncomfortable.
Rivera, who was the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, will hire a defensive coordinator, but that DC will be a disciple, too, of aggressive defense. The new Carolina coach was clear in his press conference that he will shape the defense, which is not a bad thing considering the Chargers led the NFL in total defense this past season.
Rivera turned 49 last Friday and he has a job after going through the head coach interview process for a ninth time. The fact he did not get a job before today is not an indictment because Rivera, being of Hispanic descent, was likely interviewed to satisfy the league's mandate that teams with an opening interview a minority candidate.
Rivera said he has a list of coaches he would like to talk to about running his offense, which is crucial considering the Panthers' offense was the worst in the NFL this season. One name prominently mentioned is San Diego assistant coach Rob Chudzinski, who was the former offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns and reportedly will be contacted by the Dolphins for a position there.
Rivera made it clear, however, that he is not abdicating authority on offense.
"I'm not turning anybody loose," Rivera said.
Rivera, the son of an U.S. Army officer, played college football at Cal and was an All-American. He still holds the Cal record for tackles for loss set in 1983.
Rivera was selected in the second round of the 1984 draft by the Bears and was part of the Buddy Ryan defense that hammered New England, 46-10, to win Super Bowl XX.
Rivera played nine years in the NFL, the first player of Puerto Rican/Mexican descent in the league. His goal, he said, was to be a head coach in Charlotte for eight to 10 years and get a second ring.