Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is an opportunity for Rivera

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The decision to fire Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator and promote Ron Rivera from linebacker coach is not only a chance for the Chargers to turn around a disappointing season, but it is a chance for Rivera.

It is an opportunity for him to become a head-coaching candidate again.

Two years ago, Rivera was one of the most sought head-coaching candidates in the NFL. After the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Rivera interviewed for eight different jobs. He didn't get one and then a strange turn of events occurred.

The Bears suddenly released him from his contract and the hot coaching candidate went from being sought after to being unemployed. The Chargers quickly snapped up Rivera.

If Rivera can turn around this defense, he will get more head-coaching looks. His challenge is steep, though.

San Diego is ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass and has allowed 195 points this season. San Diego doesn't have a sack or an interception in the past nine quarters.

Rivera was known for being an aggressive coordinator who likes to blitz. He is a protégé of Philadelphia's wildly successful defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Rivera, a former player, is known as a player's coach who understands their challenges.

He can be tough when he needs to be, but he was very well respected by his players in Chicago. Expect more fire from Rivera than from the sedate Cottrell. Rivera is a professional who has succeeded in this position.

It will not be too big for him. Expect a cool, confident approach that if it works to plan could result in a playoff berth for the 3-5 Chargers and a head-coaching job for Rivera.