Life brings us many times that we experience something for the first time.
There is your first tooth, your first pet, your first day of school, your first little league team, your first date, your first graduation, your first job, marriage, child, and death in the family.
Prior to this season, three times Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers began a season winning their first two games. In each of the three seasons, Rivera’s Panthers qualified for the NFL playoffs.
In 2014, Carolina won their first two games, then struggled badly to 3-8-1. Rivera’s Panthers recovered nicely, winning their final four games finishing 7-8-1 atop the NFC South. They even defeated the Cardinals (27-16) in the Wild Card round before losing to the Seahawks (31-17) in the Divisional round.
His 2015 team opened with a 14-game winning streak before finally losing in their 15th game at Atlanta 20-13. That team finished 15-1, then defeated the Seahawks (31-24) and Cardinals (49-15) before losing to the Broncos 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 (L).
Two seasons later, Rivera’s 2017 team won their first two games before losing at home to the Saints (34-13). That Carolina team finished 11-5, before falling again to the Saints (31-26) in the Wild Card round.
His 2023 Washington Commanders team won their first two games over Arizona (20-16) and at Denver (35-33). However, this team of Rivera’s is very much in danger of not qualifying for the playoffs.
Is there any rational reason why this team should not be 6-4? Weren’t those two losses inexcusable? Were those two games not first embarrassing and then infuriating?
Just ask Jonathan Allen.
Jonathan Allen is not happy after Commanders loss. "They whupped our ass, plain and simple." pic.twitter.com/7BaGsfkDWg
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 22, 2023
Sunday in Seattle was different. Yes, they still managed to lose on a walk-off field goal, and yes, the defense permitted the Seahawks to drive and score in the final 52 seconds.
But at least there was the slight consolation that the Seahawks and their crowd are tough to defeat in Seattle, and at 6-3, Seattle is respectable.
But the Bears are now 3-7, and the Giants are worse at 2-8. They stink, and yet, the Commanders could not defeat either of them?
So, Rivera’s team should at the least be 6-4. Yet the reality is they are 4-6 and have seven games remaining, including Dallas (twice), San Francisco and Miami.
It looks like Rivera could win his first two games of a season yet manage to not qualify for the playoffs.
That would be a first for Rivera.