Ron Rivera: 'This is new ground for me'

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
10:50
AM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ron Rivera never imagined he would be answering questions about his future as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers two games into the 2013 season.

"This is new ground for me,'' Rivera said on Wednesday. "I'm fortunate I've got some guys that have been through these tough times. I've talked to several of them a couple of times. I've got some friends in the league that I call and talk with.

"And I obviously talk to my family, talk to my wife. You always find a source of inspiration somewhere.''

[+] EnlargeRon Rivera
AP Photo/Bill WippertTwo weeks into the season, Panthers coach Ron Rivera finds himself talking about his job security.
The Panthers are 0-2 after Sunday's 24-23 loss at Buffalo, which scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds remaining.

A third straight slow start -- 1-6 last season and 1-5 in 2011 -- has sparked speculation that team owner Jerry Richardson might make a coaching change if the Panthers lose this week to the 0-2 New York Giants with a bye week following.

"I didn't expect to be where we are right now,'' Rivera said. "I expected we would have opportunities to win both games and expected to win both of them, and it didn't work that way. That's what's disappointing. We had opportunities and we didn't do it.

"Based on what we've done, I'd like to believe we should win those. Going into Sunday, I expect to win.''

If anybody can relate to what Rivera is going through, it is Giants' coach Tom Coughlin.

In 2010, there was speculation Coughlin would be fired when a late-season collapse led to the Giants missing the playoffs. Team owner John Mara actually let his head coach dangle for a couple of weeks before acknowledging he would return.

The Giants won the Super Bowl the next season.

But Coughlin admitted that at the time it was tough to ignore speculation about his job security, and that it took its toll on the team. He can imagine it's the same way for Rivera.

"It's not a very good or likeable topic to discuss, I don't care what end of the spectrum you're on,'' Coughlin said Wednesday. "I know Ron is an outstanding football coach. I saw exactly what they did last year. They won five of their last six, and certainly that was very representative of his ability to hold his team together and do a good job of coaching his team.

"I just feel like when you're in the position we're in, many times people don't want to hear this, but we have to put our blinders on and go to work. We cannot be affected by what's being said on the outside.''

Coughlin is having to put the blinders on to a degree this week. His brother died on Monday night, and the coach was back at work on Wednesday preparing for the Panthers.

"Our job is to motivate our coaches and our players and do the best job we possibly can to present our team with the best possible plan we can,'' Coughlin said. "Then just work as hard as we can on the practice field with our players to accomplish putting them in the best position to win.''

Asked if coaches are able to put blinders on better than most, Rivera laughed.

"I don't know if we all deal with them well,'' he said. "The thing about this, there's the next game, the next game, the next game. You don't get a lot of time to think about it. You've got to learn from this as fast as you can and move on to the next one.''

The difference in what Rivera is going through now and what Coughlin did in 2010 is Coughlin had proven he could win as a head coach. He had won a Super Bowl in 2007 with the Giants and led the Jacksonville Jaguars to two AFC championship games.

Rivera is 13-21, 2-14 in games decided by seven points or less.

"The hard thing, too, and people don't understand, is I've got to be upbeat for 61 players and 20 coaches,'' Rivera said. "For me to bury my head in the sand is not going to get it done. That's my approach. There is another week.''

Rivera's approach this week is to beat the Giants because they are the next opponent.

"I got a real good quote from a friend that basically said, 'Winning starts now. Win every second, every second of every hour of every day,' '' he said. "That's been my mentality thinking about that.''

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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