CHARLOTTE – One day after the Panthers lost their sixth consecutive game, an impassioned Ron Rivera expressed his belief that Carolina has the pieces and still has time to turn things around.
Rivera also reiterated the message he shared with his team immediately after Sunday's 31-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
"I ain't quitting on this, guys," Rivera said. "You don't give up on something just because something negative happens. If we did, we'd be a nation of quitters.
"We've got four games left to go, a long way to go. We're going to play them one game at a time, and we're going to see what happens. We're going to let the chips fall where they may. I expect the players to come out and play every game hard, starting with this first one."
This time last year, the Panthers were celebrating an eighth consecutive victory and preparing for a showdown at the New Orleans Saints that figured to play a pivotal role in the NFC South race. Carolina lost that game but bounced back strong to finish 12-4 and capture the division title.
When the Panthers head to New Orleans next weekend, they must win to keep alive any playoff hopes. While that's not the focus for Rivera, the successes of last season understandably remain fresh in his mind.
"We've done some good things. Last year it was good enough; apparently this year it's not. I get that. You are what you are now. This is a game of now, and I get that. The coaches understand that. The players understand that, but let's not give up."
After Sunday's game, quarterback Cam Newton said he believes the answers are on the roster. Rivera responded Monday.
"I do agree with Cam. I believe the answers are in the locker room," Rivera said. "It's in the locker room. It's in the meeting room. It's in the coaching staff room. We've got enough good answers.
"There are enough good football players on this team. We've got probably the best center (Ryan Kalil) in the league, one of the best tight ends (Greg Olsen) in the league. I like the tandem of running backs (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) we have. We have a good, young quarterback that's learning and growing and getting better. We've got a good young wide receiver (Kelvin Benjamin), and defensively we've got most of our good players back. Sure we're missing one (Greg Hardy), but we've got some good guys on that side.
"It's not like we don't have answers. Now it's a matter of putting it all together."
What would it take to put it all together? The same formula that helped the Panthers go from a 2-14 team in 2010 to a 12-4 team in 2013.
"Hard work. Just keep working hard. That's it," Rivera said. "It's not looking for quick fixes or making knee-jerk reactions. It's about studying it, learning it, growing it, understanding it and putting it together.
"That's what you have to do, not just in football but in everyday life."