Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera wins Coach of the Year


NEW YORK -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera was announced as the 2013 Associated Press Coach of the Year at Saturday's "NFL Honors" awards ceremony.

Rivera faced stiff competition from the Chiefs' Andy Reid, the Eagles' Chip Kelly, the Seahawks' Pete Carroll, the Patriots' Bill Belichick and the Cardinals' Bruce Arians.

After entering the season on the hot seat, Rivera turned his Carolina career around in October by embracing a newfound aggressive philosophy.

Rivera's penchant for gambling on key fourth downs earned him the moniker "Riverboat Ron," galvanized his team and injected life into a stale organization.

This football epiphany gave rise to a franchise record eight-game winning streak that ultimately resulted in 12 wins, the NFC South division title and the Panthers' first playoff appearance since 2008.

The front office promptly rewarded Rivera with a long-term commitment this week, recognizing the gradual improvement reflected in the team's 17-5 record over the past 22 games.

Having established himself as a risk-taker and one of the NFL's premier defensive strategists, Rivera's next challenge is to keep pace with the rest of the NFC superpowers by fostering more creativity in scheme and play-calling on offense. He has three more years to make it happen.

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