There's probably no better proof of how well a coach is leading a team than when a squad faces adversity and overcomes it. It's much easier to coach when everything goes perfectly. It's a bit deceiving to look at the perfect record of the Carolina Panthers and imagine that a dream season has just fallen into place for coach Ron Rivera and his players. The truth is, it's been a much trickier road than that, but Rivera has helped his players steer a successful course despite the bumps in the road like injuries to key players and a lack of big-name receivers.
Part of the reason that Rivera has led the way past obstacles so well is because he's found a way to overcome even more difficult challenges in his life, none more crushing than the death of his beloved older brother. Yet family, and helping his brother's family, has become Rivera's inspiration and motivation. He brings the same dedication and loyalty to the Panthers organization.
Aside from the talent of quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers have pieces that function well because Rivera has been able to get everyone to contribute. From relying on the versatile running and passing talents of Newton to trusting unexpected players to catch passes, the Panthers work because everyone on the squad works hard in their roles.
"We have a really good culture in our locker room," Rivera said.
It's a testament to Rivera's evolution into one of the best coaches in the league. Catch up on all the details of his system with the analysis of ESPN's Jason Reid.
Follow the Carolina Panthers and their quest for an undefeated season on their team page.