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October 03, 2011

Ron Rivera defends decision to kick to Devin Hester

A day after Chicago's Devin Hester had two long returns that swung momentum in the Panthers' 34-29 loss, first-year coach Ron Rivera defended the decision to kick to the most prolific returner in NFL history.

Rivera said the Panthers coaches saw the Saints and Packers keep Hester in check by kicking short, rugby-style punts that he was forced to fair-catch. That was the Panthers' plan.

But it backfired when Jason Baker sent a low, line-drive punt to Hester, who had ample initial running room en route to a 69-yard return for a touchdown. It was the 11th career punt return for a score, a NFL record.

Hester, who was already the all-time leader for combined returns for touchdowns, also had a 73-yard kickoff return that led to an earlier Bears' touchdown. The returns helped turn a 10-all game into a 24-10 Bears' lead in a three-minute span in the second quarter.

We felt it was a strong opportunity for us to do things, put the ball out in play 35, 40 yards (with) 4.5-second hang time. Unfortunately, we didn't do that,” Rivera said.

When we do these things we go through the process. We watch the tape, (see) what's happening. You say what can you do and what can you do consistent and try to do it. Unfortunately, that didn't work. And as I said, that comes back to me. I just addressed it. I just wanted to be upfront and honest with it. I'm not going to duck the question.”

Rivera was asked why he didn't have Baker kick it out of bounds.

If you kick it out of bounds, there's an inherent risk that you're going to kick it 5 yards out of bounds or 60 yards out of bounds. And there's also no guarantee the ball's going to go out of bounds, which was exhibited also in the past. And he returned it for a touchdown. Because I've been there. I know the young man,” said Rivera, the Bears' defensive coordinator from 2004-06.

And we had a plan that we thought we could do consistently. The thing I felt strong about, felt good about it, was it was a kick that we've kicked every time this season, the rugby style, and had success with it. So I thought we could continue. But again as I said, it all comes back to me.”

Rivera pointed out Hester started 8 yards deep in the end zone on the kickoff return. On both returns, Rivera said there were players in position to make the tackle.

And we didn't do it, unfortunately,” Rivera said. “But we have to do it and we're going to find guys that are going to do it. That's the other thing, too.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 3, 2011 at 01:21 PM | Permalink

Comments

It's time to make some major changes to the personnel on kickoff and punt teams. The tackling or lack thereof was awful. We need to put more starters in there or look to the practice squad or outside altogether for more help.
We have been eaten up on defending against the run for the entire season. We go out and get additional help at the DT position, yet they don't dress for the game! Why?

Posted by: SC Ken | Oct 3, 2011 1:40:31 PM

Coach Rivera I am sorry NO

Posted by: malcolm felix | Oct 3, 2011 2:12:05 PM

Rivera needs to start Anderson and he will win games with consistency. Newton is forced to be a one man show and it aint working. This wont work in the NFL. Stats dont win games. Never did never will.

Anderson is a experienced vet who can lead a team to success. Trying to win with a Qb on training wheels is a loser. Losing is losing. Football is a team sport.

Time to start Anderson and allow his experience talent and intelligence work in a positive way to pull rabbits out the hat before its too late.

Anderson is the answer. In the NBA players who score 50-60 pts a game always lose the game for the team. Never fails. Gotta be a trooper not a shooting star. Shooting stars burn bright but burn out.

Bench Newton. Start Anderson.

Posted by: randall | Oct 3, 2011 2:25:18 PM

While I respect Rivera's honesty, I have to disagree with him on this one. Under no circumstances should you kick it to Hester in the middle of the field, he's just too dangerous. This is now the second game we've lost due to special teams breakdowns and it has to stop. Our offense has played well enough to win every game this season and it's time we make the correct adjustments to ensure victory. Kudos to Shockey for calling out the refs on that pass interference call. Not saying it cost us the game but it was a HUGE momentum swinger, especially after getting the fg blocked. We need everyone on the team to care like Shockey does. Also, please insert LaFell into the starting lineup for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Diddy | Oct 3, 2011 2:26:45 PM

Randall, I know you're not serious with your comments about benching Cam? Anyone who hates on this kid at this point is either one of two things:

1) A loser
2) A fan of an SEC team that he worked last year.

Get over it bud, he ain't going anywhere for a loooooong time and the majority of Panthers fans are very happy about that.

Posted by: Diddy | Oct 3, 2011 2:32:25 PM

To randall, you are completely off base. Newton is one of the few guys doing their job on this team. I don't see how changing the quarterback will help the defense or special teams. In your basketball example, a great offensive player also has to play defense for the team to win, this is not so in football, moron.

Posted by: Lane | Oct 3, 2011 2:42:36 PM

Saying Anderson over Newton is the answer is laughable. Others need to match his play and we'll win.

Posted by: PantherHead | Oct 3, 2011 2:49:03 PM

Randall, dude? c'mon man...we have scored 20+ pts every game. the quarterback is not the problem...the offense is not the problem. I think even you can deduce what's left.

Posted by: WM | Oct 3, 2011 2:54:48 PM

do what?! start anderson? they rushed for what, 170 yards? and Newton completed passes to eight different receivers? 545total yards? one man show? Anderson? wow

Posted by: randalls crazy | Oct 3, 2011 2:56:05 PM

We need a good Caucasian QB. It takes brains not athletics to play QB.

Posted by: BM Man | Oct 3, 2011 3:16:06 PM

We need a good Caucasian QB. It takes brains not athletics to play QB.

Posted by: BM Man | Oct 3, 2011 3:16:07 PM

We need a good Caucasian QB. It takes brains not athletics to play QB.

Posted by: BM Man | Oct 3, 2011 3:16:07 PM

We need a good Caucasian QB. It takes brains not athletics to play QB.

Posted by: BM Man | Oct 3, 2011 3:16:07 PM

All you need to win is a good steady experienced vet with a strong accurate arm who is mobile with size. Nothing fancy or snazzy or overbearing just solid consistency and steady leadership. Its takes a whole team to win. You dont need an over dominant playmaker to succeed. The whole problem in 2010 was not just QB but a multitude of reasons.

There are individual and team sports. Maybe Newton needs to take up golf or tennis or maybe boxing. He seems more suited to individual rather than team sports. Team sports require a trooper mentality not this ME ME ME iconic personna... Theres no I in team.


Posted by: Jimbo | Oct 3, 2011 3:33:27 PM

Randall. What the hell are you talking about? Are you people watching the game? stop with the race bating. Cam Newton and Steve Smith ARE our two best offensive players. Morons...and I'm WHITE!

Posted by: Stephen | Oct 3, 2011 3:33:32 PM

What bowel movement man your truly out of bounds

Posted by: Shannon | Oct 3, 2011 3:36:38 PM

DOdo your comments sound like your name Colts w/wo Payton Manning Cluasen depression Newton Excitement .. football 101 need a qb old days he could have played both ways to stop the run or kick the ball or cover kicks but he is just 1 man your a DUMMY

Posted by: Shannon | Oct 3, 2011 3:46:51 PM

Jimbo - let the "icon" quote go already. Instead, let's look at a quote from yesterday. Cam was clearly (and he has to know this) the best player on that field yesterday, for either team. And because his TEAM lost, he said that he felt like he let his teammates down out there. Read that again - not that they let him down (what really happened, btw) but that HE let THEM down. This kid is a true leader, by both word and example. He will take this team far, and I bet by the end of this season they will do things you don't think they can, because of young Mr. Newton and his selfless leadership.

Posted by: Tim | Oct 3, 2011 4:04:00 PM

I can't even justify the comments of the Cam haters on this blog. The kid has limitless potential and if you aren't on board, then please go pull for the Redskins or Cowboys.

Posted by: Diddy | Oct 3, 2011 4:11:10 PM

Yea, go pull for the Eagles...ya know that "Dream Team" where the over priced free agents went!

Posted by: Jrauhauser64 | Oct 3, 2011 6:19:43 PM

I can't believe the number of random idiots we've picked up on these boards this season because of Cam Newton haters coming out of the woodwork following him (from Auburn forums?) to Panthers forums. Maybe if we quit responding to these imbeciles (who obviously have nothing better to do than hate on someone who is 100000x the person they will ever be), then they will go away and I won't have to keep scanning through the comments before I decide whether or not to read them.

BM Man, you think if you post 4 times I'm somehow not gonna skip over your moronic comment? Think again.

Posted by: An Real Panthers Fan | Oct 3, 2011 6:57:21 PM

The answer is not to start Anderson. Newton has done a wonderful job as a rookie QB because he is surrounded by veterans. our problem is defensive line. Those DT we have are constantly getting blown off the ball and man handled. Teams are going to look at the tape and see the way you beat Carolina is to run the ball up the middle.

Posted by: Gwanedm | Oct 4, 2011 7:10:18 AM

Rivera needed to smarten up after the first long return, not the second.

Posted by: sbh1024 | Oct 4, 2011 7:54:53 AM

I'm gonnna have to guess that most of these racist ignorant hillbilly Panther fans just want to get a reaction out of everyone, because that's what gets them off. Obviously their wives (or sisters in most cases) aren't doing the job.

Rivera needs to tighten up the ship on ST especially. Giving the opponent good field position kills your defense, especially the make shift D we have out on the field. But, with our new offense, we need them to bend and not break. Which is why field position is so critical this year!

And one more for the ignorant rednecks...daunce yourselves! I know, I know, your vocabulary isn't developed, but they have these little square buildings called libraries you can go and look that word up. But then again, you have to be able to read.

GO PANTHERS!!!

Posted by: Josh | Oct 4, 2011 4:45:37 PM

I'm gonnna have to guess that most of these racist ignorant hillbilly Panther fans just want to get a reaction out of everyone, because that's what gets them off. Obviously their wives (or sisters in most cases) aren't doing the job.

Rivera needs to tighten up the ship on ST especially. Giving the opponent good field position kills your defense, especially the make shift D we have out on the field. But, with our new offense, we need them to bend and not break. Which is why field position is so critical this year!

And one more for the ignorant rednecks...daunce yourselves! I know, I know, your vocabulary isn't developed, but they have these little square buildings called libraries you can go and look that word up. But then again, you have to be able to read.

GO PANTHERS!!!

Posted by: Josh | Oct 4, 2011 4:45:37 PM

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