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Did Ron Rivera take shot at Steve Smith with NASCAR analogy?

Ron Rivera PanthersCarolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spent some time recently with another successful coach in sports to try picking up some tips. That person is Chad Knaus, who is Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief and has helped his driver win six championships.

While talking with ESPN’s David Newton about what he learned from Knaus, Rivera made an analogy that some believe applies to the situation with former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. It came up in the context of Knaus swapping out Johnson’s entire 7-man pit crew in 2010 and going on to win the Sprint Cup.

“This guy may jack the car up a 10th of a second faster, but he doesn’t work as well together with others,” Rivera said, “while this guy may be a 10th of a second slower, yet he works well with everybody. We’re the same way. It’s about, ‘How does this guy fit in the locker room?'”

And just like that, the team’s reason for cutting Smith — the franchise’s leading receiver — became even more clear.

A report said the Panthers’ GM viewed Smith as a distraction, and what Rivera said about the locker room seems to be the exact issue with Smith.

However, in March, the Panthers said Smith was cut for football reasons and cited his declining speed. Maybe both were factors in the decision.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Ron Rivera does not regret play-calling, decisions on goal line

Ron Rivera PanthersThe Carolina Panthers lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers 23-10 on Sunday and were eliminated from the playoffs. The Panthers’ inability to score from the goal line may have been the difference in the game, but coach Ron Rivera is not second-guessing their play-calling in those situations.

“We believe in what we do,” Rivera said after the game via the Charlotte Observer. “I’m not going to second-guess anything that we did, this year or before. We’re going to learn from it.”

The Panthers were first stuffed at the goal line on their second drive of the game. They were down 6-0 at the time and had three shots at scoring from inside the three but were unable to convert. They tried a run with Cam Newton that gained two yards, then a handoff to Mike Tolbert that was stuffed, and then they went for it on 4th-and-1 instead of kicking a field goal. Cam Newton came up short on his QB sneak attempt, keeping the score at 6-0.

The Panthers ended up getting their touchdown after forcing a 49ers punt from the 3, returning it to the 31, and throwing a TD pass on their first play to go up 7-6, so all worked out well. But after scoring their touchdown, the Panthers were stuffed again.

Carolina had a 2nd-and-1 at the San Francisco 1-yard line while up 7-6. They were unable to get the touchdown and settled for a 24-yard field goal to go up 10-6. They didn’t score any more points for the rest of the game.

“You get the ball on the 1, you’ve got to figure out how to score,” Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. “They stopped us two different times down there. We’re normally a very good goal line, short-yardage team, and we weren’t today. That was a big, big part of why we lost.”

It sure is. The momentum for the game may have drastically changed had the Panthers gone up 14-6 instead of 10-6. But they were stopped twice, and that’s a big reason why the 49ers are moving on.

GIF via GIFD Sports

Ron Rivera calls Jeremy Shockey a ‘tremendous person,’ says he’s not snitch type

There are plenty of people across the NFL who do not care for Jeremy Shockey. He has a reputation for being a loud mouth and has been accused of being a lousy teammate. That doesn’t mean it was right when Warren Sapp accused him of being the person who ratted out the Saints for running a bounty program. Sapp had nothing to support his claim, which is why the NFL Network wound up reprimanding him for his tweet. On Wednesday, Shockey’s former coach Ron Rivera gave the tight end a strong endorsement.

“If you know Jeremy Shockey, you know that’s not Jeremy Shockey,” Rivera said at the NFL owners meetings according to the Charlotte Observer. “I know there was an insinuation that he had been the guy. But that’s not Jeremy’s makeup. That’s not who Jeremy Shockey is.

“Jeremy Shockey’s a guy that if there was something going on, that’s their business. I would be surprised, I really would. It wouldn’t hurt him in my eyes either way because, first of all, I think Jeremy Shockey’s a tremendous person. I think he’s also a very good football person – a football personality who understands this game.”

Sounds like somebody would welcome Shockey back with the Panthers next season. Rivera’s opinion of Shockey is the complete opposite of Amani Toomer’s, who recently called him a bad person and worse teammate. As for whether or not Sapp’s accusation will affect Shockey’s ability to find work, I doubt it. The general consensus seems to be that Warren was out of line, and any character concerns teams might have about Shockey were likely there to before he was accused of being a snitch.

Photo credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

Ron Rivera: Panthers’ Trick Play Was Inspired by Little Giants Movie

The Panthers used a trick play to score their third touchdown against the Texans Sunday, and it turns out the play was inspired by the football movie Little Giants. Asked about the play by reporters Monday, Carolina head coach Ron Rivera says the idea came from the “Annexation of Puerto Rico” play the Giants used to beat Kevin O’Shea’s Cowboys on the final play of the game.

“Just so you know, the unofficial name – I don’t know if you guys have ever seen the “Little Giants” – it’s called the Annexation of Puerto Rico. I’ve seen the movie a hundred times with my kids. They’re grown up now,” Rivera said. “So last night we were talking about and they called it everything from the Chud-a-rooskie to the Mauler to what have you. Somebody said, ‘well, it’s from the ‘Little Giants.”

Fumblerooskis are actually illegal in the NFL, but if you watch the play closely, you’ll see that quarterback Cam Newton took the snap and handed it to Richie Brockel between the fullback’s legs (watch video of the play at NFL.com). Brockel went untouched into the end zone for the score to put Carolina up 21-0. They won it 28-13, helping Doc Brown secure one of his Top 3 picks.

The only remaining question is if Ron Rivera gets to take over Gary Kubiak’s car business.

Thanks to Deadspin for sharing the awesome story.