With the Washington Football Team’s season officially over from a post-season perspective, it is time to do some reflecting. Fans, media, coaches, and players should all be reflecting on their expectations and assessing if expectations were met this season. Head Coach Ron Rivera suffered his 10th loss of the season and 19th loss in his two years in Washington, and he spoke with the media on Monday to address how he and his team will handle the lessons learned from 2021.
To start, Rivera made clear that he and his staff will be evaluating every game of the season individually to pick apart situations and how they can get better at them. “Yeah, I most certainly will,” Rivera said on if he will look back at missed opportunities this season. “We’ll go all the way back to the beginning and we’ll go through each game individually and see the things that we could have done that could have helped us. Obviously, there are some elements of the San Diego [Los Angeles Chargers] game that you look at and you say, wow, we had some chances here. You’ll definitely look at the same game. You’ll definitely look at Denver. But we’ll look at them and really go through each game and try and pick it apart and just say, Hey, these are the things that we’ve got to be better at, and this situation we’ve got to handle. Those types of things are important as we evaluate what happened this season.”
One question that will get answered down the road with Rivera is - When he does identify better ways to approach situations. Would he trust the new information he acquired in the off-season, or will he revert to his core tendencies? Whichever that may be.
Ultimately, Rivera’s evaluation of this season can determine how better Washington will be next season because Washington underachieved in several categories. Further, Rivera understands where he is in his tenure as Washington’s head coach. Year three is critical for him, and the outlook after the first two seasons is not promising for several reasons, but Rivera believes several things are in favor of Washington.
“I’d like to believe so. To me, there’s a lot of things that we’ve been working on. A lot of things that we feel good about. There are some things that were out of our control this year that really hampered us. But at the end of the day, if you map things out, you plan things out and this is really what we believe, I don’t see why not. And again, I know expectations will be high. I know people will say well it’s your third season. This is what happens in the third season. And again, I get it. At the end of the day, we have some holes that we want to fill. We have some players we wanna make sure these are the right kind of guys that are gonna be out on the football field. That’s all part of the process that I believe in. And I know. Believe me, I didn’t come here thinking that it’s gonna be an easy turnaround. Those first two years are gonna be great. I think we out did the expectations our first year. I thought coming into the second year, I said to you guys, that there’s certain things that I was still concerned with. Now going in the third year, I’d like to believe that we’ve taken some big steps. There are some things that we wanna do in free agency, some things we wanna do in the draft I think that can help us. We’ll see. We’ll see where everything falls into place. I just feel about some of the things that we’ve done. I know a lot of people, they may not be able to see it but that’s okay. This is how I feel about it.”
- Rivera on if taking a big step forward next year is a fair expectation.
Rivera’s full quote on the matter was transparent, but one thing stands out to me in this quote. Rivera said that he was still concerned with certain things before the season, but heading into year three, he’d like to believe he’s taken some big steps. If maturity was one of the publicly known concerns by Rivera heading into the season, can Rivera say that his players have turned the corner and their maturity has improved their play on the field? Last week, defensive line coach Sam Mills acknowledged that maturity could be a function of the defensive line's inconsistency.
I asked the Hogs Haven community if Rivera’s team heading into the new season was better than they were a year ago; 56 percent of the voters said yes. So the expectations moving forward are clear on all sides, and the good thing is in this situation is that Washington knows exactly what they need in this off-season.