CHARLOTTE – Mike Siravo is used to this process.
The Panthers are Siravo's third stop as a linebackers coach under head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. Siravo first worked with Rhule at Temple in 2006 when Rhule was the program's defensive line coach and Siravo was a recruiting coordinator. But this will now be the eighth consecutive season he's led linebackers for Rhule and Snow — first at Temple, then at Baylor, and now with Carolina.
So why has Siravo followed his two bosses from Philadelphia to Waco to Charlotte?
"Everyone wants to be challenged at work. Well, I have that. I've got it every day," Siravo said. "I think that's why the partnership works. I bring certain things to the table, but also I enjoy never showing up and being complacent or comfortable, and knowing that day I have to perform at a higher level than yesterday."
That sense of collaboration and teamwork helped attract Siravo to football in the first place. He didn't start playing until high school but found he loved the game because it wasn't like baseball or basketball. One player can be an overwhelming force in those sports, like a pitcher during a dominant outing or a shooter with a hot hand.
"There was no other sport where you could have a great player or two, but if 11 guys didn't do what they were supposed to do, it was a screwed up play," Siravo said. "It was the greatest team sport that I'd ever been a part of. I guess the team element of it, and the accountability element of it, it's like a little battle."
Soon after picking up the game, Siravo found he enjoyed watching film and breaking down opponents. It led him to try out for a walk-on spot as a linebacker at Boston College, where he eventually earned a scholarship.
"I didn't want to give it up," Siravo said. "Even if I could just be on a scout team, just to be a part of the process of going into a game. Then I developed a love for the teaching side of it."
Siravo became close with a few teammates who were starters and helped them study tape. He'd also provide sideline observations for how the game was developing and sniff out tells from the opposing backfield.
"I got on the field sometimes, but it was out of necessity on the depth chart. I wasn't good enough to play at that level," Siravo admitted. "But I was good enough to observe that level and pay attention to what was going on in the game, trends, how teams were attacking us on defense."
Siravo parlayed that passion into a post-playing career, starting as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Following stops at Columbia University and Temple, he returned to Boston College to coach defensive backs before connecting with Rhule and Snow at Temple in 2013.
As a former linebacker, Siravo is well aware of how the position's evolved with an increased importance on speed, athleticism, and versatility. Linebackers must be able to line up across from agile tight ends or the occasional slot receiver outside the tackle box. They also have to take on interior linemen, shedding blocks to stuff the run. And they have to be able to blitz, bringing creative pressures to keep quarterbacks off balance.
"You have to be smart, you have to be physical, you have to be fast, and you have to have that dog mentality — that hunt, that you want to make every play," Siravo said.
While he hasn't been able to evaluate his new group on the field yet, Siravo believes Carolina's linebackers did a good job communicating their understanding of the system during the virtual offseason program.
"There's no entitlement. They're hungry, they want to learn, and they ask phenomenal questions," he said. "They always want to know the 'why' so that they can understand what they're doing out there. They have great recall from previous situations where a play or a player or a scheme has hurt them, and they want to know right away, 'What's our answer for that?'"
Free-agent addition Tahir Whitehead, who's expected to get the first crack at sliding into the middle linebacker role vacated by Luke Kuechly, has enjoyed getting to know Siravo, albeit virtually.
"He's man enough to admit, 'Hey look, I don't know this, but I'll get the answers for you.' He works his butt off," Whitehead said. "He always makes himself available for everyone in the room (saying), 'If you have any extra questions, don't hesitate to reach out.'"
It's the same spirit Siravo has displayed since walking on at Boston College and that's served him so well on his climb with Rhule and Snow.