When Ron Rivera was fired by the Carolina Panthers in December, he received many thank you messages and social media posts from several former players. In his nine seasons in Charlotte, the head coach established a reputation as one of the most respected head coaches in the NFL.
Rivera is now with the Redskins, but the respect from his players is still adamant.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey joined the Sports Junkies on Thursday, where he raved about his former head coach.
"You're getting a heck of a leader and a great guy," McCaffrey said.
In 2019, McCaffrey became just the third player in NFL history to have over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. His efforts earned him not just one spot on the NFL's first-team All-Pro squad, but he was named to the team at two different positions. Two!
Although the 23-year-old turned in one of the best seasons by a running back in NFL history, he still feels some personal responsibility for Rivera's dismissal.
"Obviously, we had a rough couple of years, I don't think that was ever his fault," McCaffrey said. "As a player, I wish I could have won a lot more games for him."
In his nine years at the helm in Carolina, Rivera produced four division titles, peaking with a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. But the Panthers faded over the past few years, and never posted back-to-back winning seasons under Rivera's leadership.
When asked what the Redskins are getting in the 58-year-old head coach, McCaffrey kept it simple.
"You're getting a great guy and a heck of a coach," he said. "Something about Coach Rivera is he's consistent. He's the same guy every day. He works his butt off day in and day out. So you guys are getting a really good one."
One of Rivera's biggest decisions since coming to Washington was hiring offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who also worked under Rivera in Carolina. Turner was the quarterbacks coach for the Panthers the past two years and ironically was promoted to offensive coordinator in December when Rivera was let go.
McCaffrey had nothing but positive things to say about Turner, too.
"Scott's the man. He's somebody who I had a lot of fun playing for," McCaffrey said. "He brings such a good energy to the facility, such good energy to practice. He's very relatable."
In Washington, Turner will get his first full-time opportunity as an offensive coordinator. McCaffrey believes the 38-year-old is ready for the occasion.
"He's very good at putting offenses in good terms and putting guys in positions to succeed," McCaffrey said. "He's obviously learned from his pops [Norv Turner] his whole life. He's a guy who is already really good, but is only going to get better."
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