Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera spoke to the media for Victory Monday after the team beat the Green Bay Packers 23-21 yesterday at FedEx Field. Rivera offered praise all around to start the presser. He focused on Jack Del Rio’s defense only using a 4-man front against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. The defense kept 7 in coverage and didn’t allow the big plays that have killed them all season. Disciplined pass rush, and good play from linebackers Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis kept Green Bay contained for the most part.
Rivera likes the pairing of Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson in the backfield. Antonio Gibson made some big plays as a receiver as well as on the ground. Robinson was also involved in the passing game, and Rivera talked up J.D. McKissic’s versatility as well. Rivera likes the 1-2 punch of Robinson and Gibson.
Rivera was asked about the QB position to close the presser, and whether there would be any conflict in his decision if Taylor Heinicke continues to play like he did in the 2nd half, and the team continues to win, when Carson Wentz is cleared to return to action. Rivera said the team is just focused on playing one game at a time, and they would deal with that decision when the time comes. Wentz will be on IR for at least 3 more weeks and then a decision will have to be made.
LIVE: HC Ron Rivera meets with the media on Victory Monday https://t.co/PKuVGmZmxH— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) October 24, 2022
Ron Rivera's got jokes this morning.@CharlieMule_PR: "Alright we can fire away..."— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) October 24, 2022
Rivera: "I'm not sure I like that phrasing"
Jack Del Rio’s Defense:
Ron Rivera says "kudos to our defensive staff and how they stuck to it." I was impressed by Del Rio vs Packers; 4 man rush all day, disciplined rush and in turn no big plays down the field w 7 in coverage. Good LB play from Davis and Holcomb helped too— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 24, 2022
Ron Rivera calls his defensive staff's plan to stick with a mostly four-man rush against Aaron Rodgers a "courageous" one. The scrutinized Jack Del Rio has overseen a much more effective unit since Week 2 pic.twitter.com/srOYg6aYPF— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) October 24, 2022
Ron Rivera on Zoom with us now. He's pleased with the improvements on defense, specifically citing better LB play from Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb pic.twitter.com/A5CnDM5G7I— Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_Cadeaux) October 24, 2022
Antonio Gibson/Brian Robinson:
Ron Rivera addressing the media. Said that what Robinson and Gibson did yesterday is a look at what they can accomplish together. Believes they have a good one-two punch with them in the backfield— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) October 24, 2022
Ron Rivera time.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) October 24, 2022
Says he likes the Robinson-Gibson usage, and emphasized how they got them the ball as receivers. https://t.co/MC5kktLeK2
Ron Rivera says yesterday's split between Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. was along the lines of what they envision for the RB room. Emphasized both players' ability to catch the football and how 3 of AG's catches were big plays— Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_Cadeaux) October 24, 2022
Success on third downs:
“Well, I think a big part has obviously been how we’ve played on first, second down, not being in third and shorts as much, but being more in a third and medium to third and long. I think that helps. Obviously, it helps with the pass rush. I think the overall development of the young players in the secondary in the back seven. I think that’s been something that’s been really good. I do like the way Jack [Del Rio] is using, the personnel groupings that we have. He does a great job of mixing those personnel groupings, whether it’s four down with two linebackers, it’s four down with one linebacker, it’s four down with two linebackers in a Buffalo, it’s four down, two linebackers and a nickel. I think being able to mix those different groups in and using them accordingly has been very good. I mean, I think he’s done a great job and kudos to what Jack and his staff have done for us as far as being so vastly improved in that area. I know it was something that he worked on and they emphasized throughout the offseason.”
Developing young DBs:
Rivera said the development of the younger defensive backs is a combination of several factors. They're being coached well, and they're all competing with each other and trying to do what they can to get on the field— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) October 24, 2022
Experience and growth:
The experience has been a key factor in why the team is starting to gel, Rivera said. The roster has plenty of young players who have seen a lot of playing time over the last 3 seasons. The past 2 games are examples of their growth, but RR believes there is room for more growth.— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) October 24, 2022
Rivera: "This team still has potential for growth." Now, it's a lot about the details and understanding fits/leverage etc based on the coverage called.— John Keim (@john_keim) October 24, 2022
“I think this team is still has potential for growth. I mean, there are some things you go back and watch on tape and you see it. There are a couple instances, one point with the defense is that we got a couple guys that still have to understand how to fit, whether you’re fitting versus the run or you’re playing your leverage fit in coverage. Those are things that young guys have to learn and the only way they can learn that and understand is through experience is being on the field and understanding, that hey, when we’re playing this coverage, my leverage is this side, so I fit here. And if it’s run, I’ve got to play it downhill and fit there. If it’s passed, I got to stay to this side because the leverage tells me my help is inside, or my leverage tells me my help is outside. Those are things that young guys learn through experience and hopefully they’ll learn quicker and, and, and be even better at.”
Character and resiliency in the locker room:
“Well, I think it speaks well to the resilience of our guys is that just keep pounding away, keep plugging away, keep learning, growing, developing, keep helping the young guys to grow. In both those guys case, both [DT] Jonathan [Allen] and [WR] Terry [McLaurin], those are guys that want to be at the forefront. Those are guys that want the play to come to them. Whether it’s Terry, you know, doing what he did in the fourth quarter or doing what he did in the third quarter with the catch for the touchdown or simply looking at Jonathan and just the way he’s stout up front and just wants that ball run in his area. These guys set the tone and tempo and the young guys are feeding off of it. I mean, you watch the way the defensive line, how [DT] Daron [Payne] is stepping up, feeding off of Jonathan’s energy and then you see how it affects [DE] Montez [Sweat] and, and then how it affects [LB] Cole [Holcomb] all the way to [S] Kam [Curl]. And then you look on the offense side and Terry’s stepping up making plays and then Curtis [Samuel] is making plays and you get some energy and then the running game starts going. All those things work together in concert, you know, and then again, I can’t say enough about this play of special teams, you know, with Antonio [Gibson] wanting to be back there returning the first kickoff at the 30-yard line. And then our coverage the last two weeks on punt has resulted in takeaways. And those are things that as the team, if you continue to work on and continue to focus on, creates opportunities in games.”
Rivera said Tress Way has so many weapons and tools that he can use when punting the ball. Called Way's skill set "dangerous"— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) October 24, 2022
Rivera also harped on special teams play. Loves how the gunners have been playing. Also, Gibson a boost as a KO returner. His versatility really showed Sunday: 10 carries, 3 catches (one for a TD, nice route) and averaged 26.0 on 3 KO returns.— John Keim (@john_keim) October 24, 2022
Taylor Heinicke vs Carson Wentz:
Ron Rivera, on the potential of quarterback controversy if Taylor Heinicke continues to win: "Not necessarily. I think this is about playing one game at a time, focusing on one game at a time. And when we get to that position, then I'll deal with it."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 24, 2022
Wasn't asking about a controversy necessarily. More curious about whether Rivera will feel conflicted *if* a Heinicke-led team produces better than a Wentz-led one, seeing as Wentz was such a trumpeted pickup. Rivera the coach would be happy, Rivera the personnel man less so https://t.co/TO0G3wyfGZ— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) October 24, 2022