Is Rivera the Right Fit for the Panthers?

Ron Rivera has interviewed for eight head coaching positions over the last six years. Interview No. 9 is with the Carolina Panthers, who seek John Fox's replacement. The Panthers prefer to hire a current coordinator and their field of candidates implies that man will hail from the defensive side of the ball.

Rivera just wrapped up his second full season as San Diego's defensive coordinator. The Chargers certainly helped pad his head coaching résumé, finishing first in the league in yards allowed (271.6 per game), second in sacks (47) and sixth in offensive points allowed.

Several players enjoyed the best seasons of their respective careers under Rivera, including NT Antonio Garay, LB Kevin Burnett and CB Antoine Cason.

It also helps that Rivera has experience deploying multiple schemes, using the 4-3 as the defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2004 to 2006 and the 3-4 in San Diego from 2008 until now.

A former linebacker, Rivera is a fiery leader who gets the most of his players. He isn't afraid to rip into a team when it is underperforming, but isn't one of those cheerleader coaches who yell just to hear the sound of their own voice.

Ron Rivera
Jeff Roberson/AP
The real question regarding Rivera's fit in Carolina is what he will do with an offense that finishing dead last in every significant offensive category. Rivera's experience is on defense, so he would be expected to hire a proven play-calling offensive coordinator.

Rivera has spent the past three seasons working with one of the league's best play callers, Norv Turner. However, there is no way to know how much Rivera has gleaned from Turner until he is given the reins of his own squad.

Whatever happens in Carolina, it is clear the Panthers admire the way the Chargers run their defense. In addition to Rivera, the Panthers will interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who served as the linebackers coach in San Diego from 2002 to 2006.

New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, known as an outstanding game planner, is also a candidate. But while Fewell's Giants finished No. 7 in total defense and Manusky's 49ers finished No. 13, Rivera's Chargers finished atop the rankings.

For a Panthers team looking for more production and less excuses, that may be as important as anything else.

Is Ron Rivera the right man for the Panthers? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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