The Panthers are a franchise in complete disarray. So far this season, their quarterback has had episodes of showing a severe lack of mental toughness, they've fired their general manager, and now their head coach is publicly stating the team is without a leader, not that it surprises anyone to hear it.
Rivera said during an interview WFNZ’s The Drive, "Some people have to find who they follow, and some people have to find who their leader is. Those leaders have to realize they are leaders and step up."
"I don’t know if there’s enough of the type of leaders we need in this locker room, but it’s something we’ve been working on."
To say that there may not be "enough of the type of leaders we need in this locker room" seems to be a gross understatement. In fact, they have the exact opposite type of player leading the team right now, Cam Newton.
Newton has repeatedly shown up to post-game press conferences looking like the team had just a playoff game. I maintain that many of the problems he's experiencing now are results from never losing before in his life. He's used to winning, and now he's coping with the realization that he's on a losing team for a second consecutive year.
It's difficult for a team to function without a stable leader. Ray Lewis may be the most vocal leader in the league, but that doesn't have to be the model of leadership. Peyton Manning has never been a rah-rah guy, but his play has always pushed his team, especially the offense, to play at the highest possible level.
Cam Newton will never be successful in this league if his reaction to losing doesn't change in a big way. There are a handful of quarterbacks that have exhibited similar attitudes, and the first guy to come to mind is Vince Young. Young didn't get along with his head coach, Jeff Fisher, and he was mentally weak on and off the field.
I won't go so far as saying that Cam Newton is the newest version of Vince Young, but he has to realize that the quarterback position implies leadership. Cam Newton needs to be able to step up, accept that his team is struggling and commit to fixing it. Until that happens, don't expect the Panthers to turn it around any time soon.