Somewhere in the middle of 2013, Ron Rivera morphed into the gambling madman known as Riverboat Ron and led the Panthers from a 1-3 start to a 12-win season and an NFC South division title. To reward the coach, Carolina gave him a three-year extension on Tuesday.
Rivera initially signed a four-year contract and was headed into the final year of his contract in 2014. He looked like a dead-man walking when the Panthers lost to the Bills in Week 4, but an 11-1 run to close the season and a playoff berth obviously changed things.
"I have been very clear about how much I have enjoyed living in Charlotte and working for this organization," said Rivera. "I very much appreciate the support and confidence Mr. Richardson and (general manager) Dave Gettleman have shown in me and our staff. Any success we have enjoyed is the result of a team effort by players, coaches, scouts and the entire organization, and our ultimate goal remains winning the Super Bowl."
Rivera won six games in 2011 (his first year), seven games in 2012 and 12 last season. He survived a change in general managers, when Dave Gettleman was hired to replace Marty Hurney, the man who hired Rivera.
"The team has shown improvement under Ron each year, and he is deserving of the recognition that he has received for the 2013 season," said Gettleman. "We are pleased and excited with the continuity this extension brings."
Under Rivera's guidance, the Panthers have developed some serious defensive stars including Defensive Player of the Year candidate Luke Kuechly and rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short.
The secondary, featuring mostly castoffs, became a strength as the Legion of Whom.
"The improvement of our team has been reflected in the progress of the record over the last three seasons under Ron, and we look forward to building upon that foundation," Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson said.
Rivera's return means the Panthers keep some consistency which, they obviously hope, will result in Carolina returning to the postseason for consecutive years for the first time in franchise history.