The Pro Football Writers of America have named Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers as their head coach of the year. ‘Riverboat’ Ron will get credit for being more aggressive with his calls in tight spots, but substantial improvement on the defensive side of the ball made it easier for him to be willing to gamble.
Along with Sean McDermott, their defensive coordinator huge contributions from rookie defensive tackles StarLotulelei and Kawann Short, their first and second round picks of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Panthers became one of the most dominant front sevens in the league. Their defensive line in particular, headlined by their defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, was able to consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks while also allowing Luke Kuechly, their star middle linebacker to fly all over the field and make plays.
Offensively, while his weapons were nothing to write home about, Cam Newton took another step forward in his progress as a quarterback. All of these areas aligned so the Panthers went from a 7-9 record to a 12-4 record and an NFC South Division Title.