In one of the more interesting moves on the coaching front this offseason, the Chicago Bears Monday announced that defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will not be brought back at the teams D-coach for the 2007 season. Quickly moving, the Chargers, who earlier in the day had hired Norv Turner as their new head coach and Ted Cottrell as their defensive coordinator, snatched up Rivera to be their new linebackers coach. The move is somewhat puzzling, considering that Rivera had been up for numerous NFL head coaching jobs. In the past two seasons, he had talked to eight different NFL teams about their head coaching spot.
Is it possible that Bears head coach Lovie Smith soured on all the attention that Rivera was getting as the man behind his defense? Or was Smith peeved at how the defense played down the stretch of both the regular season and playoffs? The Bears defense, which was solid and punishing early in the season, seemed to have some cracks once the cold weather hit, and in the biggest game of the season just over two weeks ago, the defense could not stop the running game of the Colts, which was a key to why the Bears are not Champions today.
Rivera deflected comments about a possible “personality conflict” with Smith about the way the defense was being run. “No, no, no, no, please. I don’t think there is, I really don’t,” Rivera stated about that possibility. “I believe this is just a football decision and it was made. I’m disappointed in not getting the opportunity to come back in ’07 because as I said at the end of the year after the loss that this is a football team that is headed in the right direction.”
Now the former Bears linebacker and coach will get a shot to coach a group of linebackers that were very solid in the 2006 season in San Diego. It’s a team that won 14 games in the regular season, and with the talent they have, there should be no reason why the Chargers could not be right back on top of the AFC West in 2007. “It’s just time to move on again, so I will move on and I will prosper,” Rivera said Monday. Will he prosper enough to garner more looks as a possible head coach in 2008? Or has that time already passed him by?