Widely assumed Commanders will fire Ron Rivera after season; Washington could be looking for new GM as well
New owner Josh Harris is expected to make changes after the 2023 campaign
Multiple sources tell CBS Sports that managing partner Josh Harris is inclined to keep Ron Rivera through the end of the regular season, but it is widely assumed that he will not be retained as head coach and the ostensible chief of football for the Commanders after the 17th game of the year.
That means there will be a search for a head coach, and very possibly a general manager, in Washington this offseason. And both jobs are thought to be among the most attractive in the NFL.
A Rivera dismissal at the end of the season would create the possibility of more traditional roles for head coach and GM, and that could lead to Washington getting a new general manager, too.
“Everyone’s shooting for Washington,” one personnel executive said of the Commanders not-vacant GM position.
Washington has a healthy salary cap situation, good draft picks and an ownership group that — admittedly not even a half-year into its rule — appears competent. There’s an allure to a job in Washington that hasn’t been there for a quarter-century.
Considering Harris’ background, a league source tells CBS Sports that any candidate with an open-mindedness to data and analytics will likely be a plus.
Washington Post (paywall)
Teams have replaced offensive coordinators during the season about twice as often as they have defensive coordinators. This season, three teams have fired their offensive coordinators — the Las Vegas Raiders’ Mick Lombardi, the Buffalo Bills’ Ken Dorsey and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Matt Canada — and two teams have changed their defensive coordinators. In addition to Del Rio, the Chicago Bears’ Alan Williams resigned in September.
But changes on the defensive side appear to have had more of a positive effect, according to some performance metrics.
From 2010 to 2022, just eight teams had multiple defensive coordinators in a season while maintaining the same head coach. In only one instance (the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles) did the team’s defense regress significantly in major statistical categories, per TruMedia. For the most part, replacement defensive coordinators helped their units improve. Most teams held opponents to fewer yards per game and allowed fewer points after an in-season change, in addition to tallying a better average defensive expected points added.
But coordinator changes often happened on teams that were already struggling, and marginal progress from one unit did little to boost overall results. Replacements on the eight teams that had midseason defensive coordinator changes had a combined 15-37 record. No team that fired its defensive coordinator during the season since 2010 had a winning record with its replacement coordinator. Two teams — the 2020 Jets and the 2015 Saints — were .500 after the firings.
With the Commanders sitting at 4-8 and going nowhere fast, John Keim of ESPN revealed during his latest podcast that some players have gone to Rivera again to ask if he’d take back some power given to Bieniemy this offseason. A laughable notion considering how they continue to underwhelm.
Players that couldn’t get into the program need to be removed from the equation. The Commanders are never going to get anywhere with the wrong work ethic and crying to Rivera every time things get a little too tough is an absolute disgrace.
When asked about Bieniemy’s coaching approach, Rivera stated via SB Nation that there was no longer an issue. Although the head coach acknowledged consistency needs to improve down the stretch to ease the pressure somewhat.
“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.”
- Ron Rivera via SB Nation
This is deeply concerning. And yet, it’s become commonplace.
The sooner there’s a complete cultural reset in Washington, the better. Unfortunately for Bieniemy, that might not include him unless the respected offensive mind convinces Josh Harris’ ownership group he’s the right man to lead this franchise once Rivera is relieved of his duties.
Podcasts & videos
Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Coach Ron Rivera’s Defensive History Promises More Pressure and Increased Zone
NFC East links
Leonard, a three-time All-Pro linebacker who was surprisingly waived by the Indianapolis Colts, is scheduled to visit the Cowboys on Tuesday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported.
Thin in its linebacker corps after the loss of Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys could use Leonard and he wouldn’t cost them much as the Colts are on the hook for his salary since he passed through waivers.
Leonard, 28, began his career on a Hall of Fame trajectory in 2018 when he was voted Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year and garnered the first of his three first-team All-Pro accolades. However, beginning in 2022, he was ravaged by injuries.
He underwent back surgery ahead of the 2022 season, but the injury still troubled him along with a concussion and broken nose that year. He played in just three games.
This season, he started nine games for the Colts, but his performance waned, and he grew frustrated with his usage under a new staff.
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Host Scott Hanson informed viewers of the evacuation as an alarm sounded during the broadcast
An alarm was heard in the background of the broadcast as host Scott Hanson informed viewers of the situation while the network showed live coverage of the fourth quarter of the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a first in my 20-something year broadcasting career,” Hanson said. ”We have an alarm going off in the studios of NFL Red Zone right now, in our studios here in Inglewood, California. We are being told we need to evacuate the building. We do not know the nature of the emergency. You can probably hear the alarm going right over the top of my right shoulder here, as it is something absolutely. unprecedented for us.”
“We have this game on, the closest game, the Philadelphia and Buffalo game, our control room needs to evacuate at this time,” Hanson said. “The studio in which I’m standing needs to evacuate at this time. We are all good right now. We’re remaining calm, but we are following protocols as I’m sure you all would at your places of work.”