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Thursday, February 24, 2011
Ron Rivera unplugged

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

I’ve heard nothing but great things about Carolina’s Ron Rivera as a coach. But I’m seeing another positive side to this guy.

Maybe it’s because I’m part of the media, but I really appreciate the fact Rivera is willing to talk. I just got the transcript of his session with the media this morning and I kind of chuckled when I scrolled to see how long it was. I’m sure the reporters in the Carolinas are enjoying this too.

Previous coach John Fox never was flat-out nasty to the media. He just wouldn’t say very much in public. His answers were short and they didn’t always clear up what he was asked. Transcripts of Fox’s meeting with the media were usually minuscule. In fact, the last couple of years I covered Fox on a daily basis in my newspaper days, I always taped his sessions, but seldom had to listen to them again. That’s because there almost never was anything worth quoting him on.

So far, and coaches can change, Rivera has been just the opposite. He’s engaging and open. Here are a few highlights from today’s session.

On his hiring of Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator: “Sean is somebody I worked with in the past for five seasons and I got to know very well. We very much shared the same philosophy in terms of being aggressive and an attacking style of defense that comes from being around Jim Johnson and everything kind of happened. The situation came about with (Philadelphia coach Andy) Reid when it was all happening and this was a chance to get Sean out of the shadow of Jim and a very difficult situation. But I think he handled that very well. He really showed his maturity so I was excited to have an opportunity to work with somebody I knew and somebody who shares the same philosophy.

On if McDermott was in a tough situation following Johnson: “Yeah. They got to the playoffs. They did some really good things on defense. I watched some of the tape to familiarize myself with some of the opponents and they played in Indy and won and I thought they did a great job with the game plan and we copied a little bit of what they did so I knew we shared that same philosophy and that was a big part of me bringing him aboard when he was available.

On taking over the last-place team from the NFC South: “This is going to be a challenge. Look at all three of those teams and they all three have franchise-style quarterbacks and I think if there is something that has to happen we have to identify that and come up with our own and then we have to continue to prepare ourselves to be ready to take the challenge on.''

On if having three franchise quarterbacks in the division make it important for Carolina to find one: “Very much so, because again it’s all part of the game. Look at it throughout the league and franchise quarterbacks are what’s happening in this league in terms of it becoming a passing league. Teams that have those guys that can attack you vertically really I think are tough.’’