Ron Rivera has been in Greg Schiano's shoes before. After going 6-10 and 7-9, respectively, during his first two years as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, followed by a 1-3 start to the 2013 season, many were calling for Rivera to be fired, just like the embattled Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach. The Panthers have since won seven straight to put themselves in strong playoff contention and position to win the NFC South if the New Orleans Saints stumble late.
Schiano's Buccaneers began the season 0-8, with locker room strife surrounding Josh Freeman's release that seemed to be largely of Schiano's own creation. Rivera apparently believes in Schiano, however. When asked what advice he would give Schiano, Rivera responded "stay the course," according to Pewter Report.
"Just stay the course," Rivera said. "Look, he's been successful, he's had success, he was successful in college, major college football, he's had some success as a coach in the NFL, now it's just a matter of time. Last year I was in the same situation and we got on a roll at the end of the year and now this year we've gotten on a roll again."
Rivera knows Schiano personally from their days together as assistant defensive coaches on Dave Wannstedt's Chicago Bears teams from 1997 to 1998. Apparently, he has seen enough of Schiano's teams to believe he will eventually make the Buccaneers consistently competitive. He has also seen enough of the Bucs to know that their problems go beyond coaching.
"If you're not looking pie in the sky you sit there and go ‘Wow they need to do this, they need to do that, that guy needs to develop, that guy needs time, oh they've got to replace this guy, or this guy's got to grow,'" Rivera said. "I like who Tampa Bay is going to become and they're on their way. Coach Schiano's doing a great job."
The Buccaneers are on an upswing, having won three straight coming off their 0-8 start. Rivera's Panthers have gone on even more impressive win streaks, winning four straight after a 3-9 start in 2012, and seven straight after a 1-3 start in 2013. Both men have opportunities to get their momentum rolling even faster with a win Sunday. For Schiano, winning means a chance to keep his job, as it once did for Rivera.