clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Like Ron Rivera, Commanders fans waiting to see “what we are” in 2022

Survey results!!

NFL: Washington Commanders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Ron Rivera was asked in the Friday press conference how he felt going into the Week 1 game, and the head coach’s comments were intriguing.

I’m anxious to see what we’re gonna look like. I’m anxious to see ...what we are, who we are, where we are. I mean, I really am. I think it’s exciting. You get that [feeling in the] pit in your stomach already where you wanna throw up. It’s that anxiety, that anxiousness, and it’s crazy because that’s something we can’t control.

It sounds like the head coach has a lot of unanswered questions about this team. Something he confirmed with his further comments:

In all honesty, other than the pandemic year, this year going into it [has] got the most questions, because we didn’t have all of our offensive alignment up, ready to go. We didn’t get to see all of our tight ends. We don’t have all of our backs up this week. It’s the same thing on defense. Going to miss a couple parts

That lack of certainty from the head coach translates to the fan base, who seem uncertain about what to expect from new starting quarterback Carson Wentz, and who seem to lack confidence in the defense and the defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, following a season in which the unit on that side of the ball dramatically underperformed.

This week, Hogs Haven did what we have done for several years; we asked members to answer a simple survey question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We asked if members were confident in the direction of the franchise.

The results reflected the uncertainty that the fans and the coach feel, with only 55% of respondents expressing confidence.

Voter comment:

Weird dichotomy: I bristle at the experts who rank us in the 30s in power rankings, yet am very concerned that we are going to lose to the Jaguars.

A year ago, ahead of the 2021 season opener, 100% of those surveyed expressed confidence as the team opened Ron Rivera’s second Washington campaign behind veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and fresh off the heels of a 2020 division championship and playoff loss to the eventual super bowl winner, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lot has changed since then.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

The 2021 season fell far short of expectations with respect to wins, losses and returning to the playoffs. When it comes to the Washington’s NFL franchise, however, confidence in the direction is a tricky and multilayered question that isn’t always tied to expectations about winning on the field. After more than 2 decades of Snyder family ownership, the question of confidence in the direction has more to do with the co-CEOs — Dan Snyder in particular — and less to do with the players on the 53-man roster.

Don’t believe me? Look at some of the comments left by Hogs Haven members when they voted in the survey.

I voted “no” — can’t have confidence in the direction of the team so long as Snyder’s the owner.

How TF can any fan be confident we are headed in the right direction?

Bruce Allen is gone. That’s a plus. Now if Snyder is forced to sell...

I voted no because Snyder and RR are still here. I do think the offense will be better, but I do believe the defense will be worse than last year. Snyder has to go before this team can even think about NFC championships and super bowls.

Short term, depends on how weeks how first four weeks go; hopefully the team gets off to a fast start and the O-line plays well versus the Eagles and against the Cowboys among other match-ups.

Medium term, I’m confident as long as Ron Rivera stays in charge.

Long term, the prognosis is less favorable because all signs point to the Snyders’ remaining as owners and turning to a poor coaching choice the next time a switch is made.

Clearly, after watching several GMS, multiple head coaches and 22 rosters fail to achieve more than a single playoff win since 1999, fans are pretty united in their opinion about the common factor in the failure that has defined the franchise in the 21st century. The problem, according to nearly every Washington fan alive, is Dan Snyder, and until (unless) he is gone, success can only be measured in terms of very short-term or immediate achievements. Sustained success, in the eyes of most Washington fans, simply can’t be achieved with the master of dysfunction at the helm.

Those who voted “yes” in the survey are likely focused on the more traditional factors of success, like the roster, the coaches, and the competition. It’s not hard to look at the 2022 roster and schedule and feel as if the coming season will be more successful than the last (though that is by no means a widely held opinion). It is hard — nearly impossible — to look at Dan Snyder’s history of failure, dysfunction and futility and have confidence that this time it will finally be different.

Undoubtedly, success or failure on the field will influence the results of this survey in the coming weeks. If the team jumps out to a 2-0 start, the confidence needle will point north, while an 0-2 start would see the fragile confidence that exists now collapse.

Nationally, at least for Week 1, fans seem to believe that Ron Rivera’s team can get it done, as a majority of fans picked the Commanders to win at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Whatever success the players achieve under Ron Rivera, Commanders fans will celebrate it only tentatively, always waiting for the other Dan Snyder size 8 shoe to drop, as it inevitably has for the past 20 years or so.

It’s a shame, really. The players have worked hard all summer and deserve the unconstrained support of fans. The team is ready to play at home on Sunday with a genuine opportunity to have a successful season. But Washington fans, on the whole, are tepid in their confidence and support because they’ve been beaten down by the experience of rooting for a team that has belonged to the worst owner in professional sports for far too long. It’s a sad state for a sports franchise that closed out the 20th century as one of the most successful and popular in the world.

Let’s hope that somehow, the 2022 burgundy & gold can overcome the stigma of Snyder ownership and give the fans a great deal to cheer for and believe in as the franchise celebrates its 90th anniversary as an NFL team, and its first under the Commanders moniker. Perhaps the 23rd time is the charm.