How do you define a good culture in sports? Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll would define a good culture as uncompromising principles that a head coach stands by and stands for. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr defines a good culture as the moment when players feel authenticity from their head coach. Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh described the ability to lead as a conceptual blueprint for action in that, if his teams obsessed about their actions and attitude, winning would take care of itself. Additionally, Walsh said that when his teams’ actions and attitudes weren’t up to par, he would seek ways to raise their Standard of Performance.
In Ron Rivera’s first year, there was a belief that the team had bought into the culture that Rivera set to establish in Washington. Just before the start of the 2020 season, Rivera had defined “the culture” as something being so strong that “it doesn’t matter who the person is, it’s so strong that the players are absorbed into it, they become part of it and do it willingly, and if they’re not willing, then the guys around them are so strong that they will pull them into the culture.”
It would be unfair to Rivera and the players to say that they never bought into what Rivera discussed with them when he took over as head coach. The optimism and confidence within the team were reasonably high after winning the division, so there was a time when the players believed that a winning culture existed. That was four years ago, though, and the Commanders have not accomplished that amount of success since, and in fact, have been trending in the opposite direction, being stuck in the pits of mediocrity. This past Tuesday, Rivera was asked how he would define a good team culture, and he said it is players learning to do things “the right way,” and then “they go out and do it.”
While Rivera’s 2020 quotes on culture are not far off from Carroll, Kerr, and Walsh’s definitions of culture, his Tuesday definition contains a level of vagueness, that bears the question, how open is he to the possibility that his “right way” might be wrong? The time to reassess Washington’s Standard of Performance arrived a long time ago, and it appears that Rivera is content with the bed that he has made.
Catch the latest Trap or Dive podcast, where we discuss Rivera’s culture comments among other quotes from his recent presser, along with previewing Washington’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. We also have a Sam Howell jersey giveaway on the line!