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Ron Rivera Presser: “We’re going to do things differently”

Ron Rivera talks after a blowout loss to the Cowboys

Washington Commanders Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ron Rivera fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer this morning. The Washington Commanders were blown out 45-10 by the Dallas Cowboys on a nationally-televised Thanksgiving game, and were embarrassed by third-string rookie UDFA QB Tommy DeVito and the New York Giants four days before that. Change needed to happen, and new owner Josh Harris is prepared to let Ron Rivera coach out the season, before cleaning house as expected.

Rivera spoke after the game, and again this afternoon after the news of the firings. He said he’d been thinking about making changes on the defensive coaching staff for a little bit, but things weren’t improving, so he made the call. Rivera will now take over play-calling duties, something he hasn’t done since 2019. Eric Bieniemy will continue to run the offense, and Rivera announced several coaching moves for the secondary.

Ron Rivera

Firing Jack Del Rio/Brent Vieselmeyer:

As you guys know, for the most part, I made a decision this morning. I relieved Jack Del Rio and Brent Vieselmeyer of their duties. We’re going to be moving forward, going to do things a little differently. It was very tough, difficult decisions because those are two really good men, good football coaches, guys that have had a lot of success in this league. And just unfortunate the situation, circumstances, but did feel that change was something that we needed to do going forward. Really to see if we can shake some things up and get some things started. So with that, I’ll go ahead and take some questions.

Why the coaching changes came now and on the reasoning behind it:

Well, more so anything else is, it’s one of those things that as you watch things happen and unfold last night, it was kind of that snowball, it just kind of started again. It just kept going and I was concerned and spent a lot of time last night and early this morning trying to go through this in my mind and just trying to figure out what else can be done, and it just seemed that shaking some things up made sense.

It’s not an indictment on Jack and Brent because those guys worked their butt’s off trying to get things right and trying to do things for us. It’s just, for whatever reason, it wasn’t coming together. We haven’t played as well as we would like to this season. We haven’t played the complementary football the way we needed to as a team. And unfortunately, this is the circumstances.

I mean, we’re all culpable. Believe me, we all are, coaches and players as a group. We have to be better. We know that. I think shaking it up now gives us an opportunity to do some things differently and play some guys differently and see what’s going on and see if we can do things to make some things happen, in a positive sense.

Have to get better:

If he and Del Rio had conversations where his input was not received well:

When I say differently, it’d be from my perspective, the way I do things. Jack did a great job and I will tell you, I was in line with the things that he did, with what we did on defense, I thought were good solid things. There are some things too that I have different opinions on and those are things that I’m going to do differently. Just because that’s kind of the way I was brought up in coaching, from a different perspective. That’s what I mean. Again, this is nothing about fighting or arguing or anything like that. This is just about the fact that, to another question, if you don’t change things, can you expect things to change? And so that’s what I’m doing to see if things will change.

Doing things differently:

Changes related to scheme or structure throughout the week and approach to players?:

Well, that’s something I’m going to be working with the defensive staff on. Richard Rodgers will continue as a senior advisor on the defense and continue to work in the defensive backs room with Cristian Garcia who we’re going to elevate to the position. Richard will work with the defensive backs, but he’ll also work with me on some of the game planning issues as well. And then everybody else will remain in their positions as we go forward and see how these things go. We’re going to work today, we’ll work tomorrow, and we’ll talk about how we’re going to do things as a defense and we’ll go from there.

Current coaching staff changes:

Focusing on defense:

Finishing up the week:

We’ll finish up today and then we’ll work tomorrow and we’ll take a little bit of a break. We’ll come back on Monday and start preparing and getting ready. I’ve already talked to all the defensive coaches, talked to the entire coaching staff, and then I talked to the defensive staff, then I talked to each defensive coach individually and talked about what I was looking for, what I want, what I wanted to get accomplished. One thing is again, we will pare things down a lot, and we’ll go from there.

Talking to ownership:

Well, for the most part, after going through yesterday and a very long evening, and then morning, I reached out to Mr. Harris and I informed him of what I was deciding and what I was going to do, and wanted to make sure he was aligned with me and he agreed and signed off on my decision. I went forward but I called him early and just told him, just kind of looking at the situation, circumstances and kind of used the snowball analogy. It was one of those things that just kind of started again and it’s hard to get out of it.

This is probably the thing that I felt was necessary to do to hopefully get out of this rut and get to a point where we can play to our abilities. It was hard because we got some good guys and we did some good things, but unfortunately something bad would happen and it just kind of escalated.

Talking to the players:

I talked to the players, and what I talked with the players is between me and them for the most part. I talked to them after I made this decision. I talked to a lot of people prior to making the decision. I just think at the end of the day, what you communicate, what you discuss, stuff like that should remain private.

Still learning:

Eric Bieniemy’s role and what he hopes to see from him going forward:

Well, I’d like to see the continued growth and again, just continue to work to get to a point where we are consistent and again, we have to play complementary football. I know it’s one of the things that we were stressing and trying to get to. And again, it’s being consistent on both sides and playing well and sustaining success. When something good goes, let’s continue to build off of that, and that’s what we’re hoping to do.

Are there still concerns about Bieniemy’s coaching style in the building:

No, there are no concerns still inside the building. The big thing, more so than anything else is everybody’s learning and understanding and growing and you’re going to take knocks early on. Things just don’t automatically become easy. You don’t struggle a little bit if it’s not hard, the hard is what you learn from. I think that’s what’s happening. We are learning. I do go back to my first year in coaching, we struggled but after that, things got righted and it was really a positive situation. That to me is almost expected and anticipated. There will be some struggles and that’s really what’s happened. Again, I think EB’s done a tremendous job. We’ve done some really good things offensively, but we’re working to get to the consistency portion of it. And I know that’s one of the things that EB always talks about.

Did Del Rio and Vieselmeyer’s prior connection lead to the decision to fire both:

No. I think again, just going through it, I think these were just independent. As far as I’m concerned, just going through some of the things in my head that just felt if there was one thing that we needed to do was we needed to shake it up a little bit. And again, it’s nothing that indites what they do or how they do it, it’s just that based on how we were playing, we just had to get some things shaken up. So, this is what I did.

Adjusting to calling plays on defense:

I just think it’ll be getting back into it and going through, actually I was going through some things earlier just before I had to come out here and just kind of working my way again into that mode. So, we’ll just get ourselves ready to go and be prepared for next week.

Thinking about making changes before the Dallas game:

Well, it is something that I was probably thinking about for a little bit. But the culmination obviously for me was yesterday. It just snowballed again. And again, just thinking this might be the thing that could help it. Again, I just think that everything that Jack and Brent did was to do the best they can to help us. And unfortunately, we just didn’t get it done. And like I said, the blame is, we’re all culpable, players and coaches. We have to be better.


Ron Rivera

Job security:

Coaching changes:


Sam Howell

Job security:


Terry McLaurin


Curtis Samuel

Coaching changes:


Brian Robinson

Ron Rivera’s job security:

Getting back on track:


Charles Leno

Regression:


Jomathan Allen