Max Henson Staff Writer
Charlotte, NC – Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott both earned their first extended coaching opportunities in the NFL with head coach Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles.
After two seasons as a defensive quality control coach in Chicago, Rivera served as the Eagles’ linebackers coach for five seasons (1999-2003). McDermott worked his way up from scouting administrative coordinator to defensive coordinator during his 12-year tenure (1999-2010) in Philadelphia.
Both men enjoyed plenty of success while working and learning from Reid, now in his 14th season leading the Eagles.
On Monday, Rivera and McDermott will coach against the man who helped develop them into NFL coaches.
“I’m a big Ron Rivera fan and I think he’s doing a good job,” Reid said in a conference call. “He’s got a young football team there that’s very explosive and they’re doing some good things.”
Reid, who has taken the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, believes Rivera has the makeup required to be a successful head coach.
“He’s wired the right way,” Reid said.
Rivera’s coaching style was shaped by Reid, a man whose stick-to-itiveness and humility he admires greatly.
“Andy sticks to who he is. Really never wavers,” Rivera said. “He treated everybody with a tremendous amount of respect. I was always impressed with the way he handled everybody from one of the ball boys to the players to the coaches. I always thought he did a terrific job communicating with all of us.”
After doing some homework on Rivera, Reid hired him to be his linebackers coach upon becoming the Eagles’ head coach. Rivera’s work ethic and eagerness to learn from longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson made an instant impression.
“He was always in Jim Johnson’s hip pocket, and that’s a positive thing,” Reid said. “He really studied Jim and how Jim went about his business, and I think that’s really helped him throughout his career.”
McDermott paid close attention to Johnson as well.
That much was evident when Reid turned on the Panthers’ defensive game film.
“There are some similarities. Some of the blitzes that he uses and when he uses them,” Reid explained. “Jim (Johnson) didn’t blitz a lot, but when he did it was at crucial times; and the physical way that they play the game and the linemen that they play up front are very similar.”
McDermott succeeded Johnson as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator following his death in 2009. The Philadelphia-native who spent his entire professional career with the Eagles, is now in his second season as Carolina’s defensive coordinator.
“It was great for him to get another opportunity, and he’s doing a nice job,” Reid said. “They’ve got a defense that’s creating turnovers and flying around, playing hard.”
Both Rivera and McDermott expressed the tremendous amount of respect they have for Reid leading up to the Panthers-Eagles Week 12 matchup, and they’re excited for the challenge.
“It will be fun. I’m sure Andy is looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to it,” McDermott said. “It’s a memory I’ll carry with me for a long time.”