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Rivera wants staff of teachers


CHARLOTTE - The office designated for the Carolina Panthers head coach at Bank of America Stadium has a new occupant, but the other offices set aside for coaches currently sit vacant.

Newly named head coach Ron Rivera, however, already is working toward surrounding himself with the company of coaches - good company at that.

"The first thing we want to do is to start putting the staff together," Rivera said Tuesday, when the Panthers introduced him as the fourth head coach in team history.

Rivera laid out details - without naming names - of what he'll be looking for in a staff.

"We're looking for teachers," Rivera said. "We're looking for guys that are going to be really good in the classroom and out on the field, and that will make that commitment to the players.

"It's not that hard to do. As a coach, you've just got to be willing to take time. Every opportunity you get to teach, you've got to teach. That's what we'll be looking for."

Rivera, who will work with general manager Marty Hurney to hire his staff, said he's already compiled a list of candidates while adding that he would consider at members of the Panthers previous coaching staff.

He also made it clear that when it comes to the crucial hires at offensive and defensive coordinator, he'll be hands-on during and after the hire.

"When I get an opportunity to visit with the candidates, they will most certainly understand that I'm not turning anybody loose to do what you want," Rivera said. "I want to know what your philosophy is to make sure it meshes with mine and to make sure it meshes with the personnel we have as well."

Expect Rivera, who has been on the defensive side of the ball for all 23 of his NFL seasons as a coach and player, to be especially involved on defense.

"Defense is what I know, so that's where I'll be. Whoever we decide the coordinator is going to be, he's got to understand that's where I'm going to be," said Rivera, who plans to stick with the 4-3 defensive alignment that the Panthers have employed in recent seasons. "My goal is to run the defense and have an efficient defense, an effective defense and an attacking defense."

Rivera also will be actively involved with his offensive coordinator, but he'll do so while leaning on his defensive upbringing.

"One thing we want to be able to do is adapt our offense to who we're playing and be able to attack them," he said. "As a defensive coach, where I come in is being able to look at the opponent, see what they do defensively and be able to say, 'These are the weaknesses that I see.' "

And what does Rivera want in an offensive coordinator?

"Balance," he said. "I'm not talking about running the ball and then passing the ball. I'm talking about having the balance that when you have to throw it, you will throw it, and when you have to run, you will run it - but you choose to, and you do.

"We have to be aggressive. We have to be innovative. We have to attack. We can't sit back."

Rivera plans to bring an attacking style to every aspect of his first head coaching job. That's goes for the on-the-field mentality he'll preach, but it also applies to what he's looking for in a staff as well as what he's looking to accomplish along with his assistants.

"I've got to make sure that they are a fit for what we want to do as an organization," Rivera said. "They've got to share the vision that we have in terms of building a championship team and sustaining it over time."

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