You could be mistaken for seeing the above image and wondering whether you forgot about Ron Rivera’s role in Wild Wild West but it’s actually a Photoshop of the Panthers head coach that got some attention when Ron Rivera’s daughter shared it on Instagram. This led to a newspaper story about a college kid making a Photoshop, which made me jealous that my half-assed offerings don’t generate press.
Anyway, the gag behind it is that after being extremely conservative in his decision making on 4th and shorts in his first two seasons, Rivera finally started being more daring and trying to convert plays that advanced statistics tell coaches they should be attempting anyway. It also might have something to do with the reports that the Panthers had begun a search for a new head coach following the team’s 1-3 start.
Since then, Carolina has reeled off five straight wins. At first, they were knocking off teams like the Vikings, Buccaneers and Falcons, so no one was taking them seriously. Then came last week, when the Panthers game in San Francisco took on the “are they for real?” narrative. Even though Carolina prevailed, that narrative is still getting some work this week. “Yeah, we know they won last week, but are they REAAALLLYYY really for real?”
The Patriots offense is getting healthy at last, which should put Carolina’s emergent defense to the test. Expect the fact that Luke Kuechly went to Boston College to be referenced ad naseum this evening. Win or lose, you can celebrate the Panthers decision to play in their black jerseys tonight. That’s respectable Boston trolling.