Ron Rivera spoke to the media after the Washington Commanders first practice of the week. They will be travelling to the west coast to face the Seattle Seahawks and he, like Sam Howell earlier, was asked about playing in front of a loud away crowd. Rivera said that Jacoby Brissett is an asset in situations like that, and mentors Sam Howell daily. Rivera said that there are a lot of factors that are helping Howell’s “sack problem” including changes to the offensive line.
Rivera also talked about facing Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf after facing Eagles WR A.J. Brown twice, Chase Young’s comments after being traded to the 49ers, Kam Curl’s role on the team, Jahan Dotson’s drops, and more.
LIVE: Coach Rivera speaks to the media after practice https://t.co/NFMViQBppd— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) November 8, 2023
Rivera says this year feels different than previous Novembers because it’s all about the development and growth of the quarterback. pic.twitter.com/x5SmLhyeDg— George Wallace (@GWallaceWTOP) November 8, 2023
I think this team’s a little bit different just in terms of this really is about the development and growth of the quarterback, the offense. So, the thing for this one more than anything else is just the continued growth and defensively just playing better and keep working towards it. I mean, to me, it’s all in front of us. I really do believe that. Like I said, this to me it’s different just because of where we are as a football team.
Decreased sacks due to offensive line changes or Sam Howell’s development?:
I think it’s a combination of several things. Also, the guys around Sam are getting it, it’s like we’ve had, I’ve talked about this earlier too, about those ‘aha’ moments where all of a sudden, he goes, ‘Okay, I see it, I get it.’
Well, some of the things that we did up front with the offensive line seem to be paying off. I think getting the ball out of Sam’s hands quicker creates frustration for the defense when a guy gets the ball out early and on time, there’s a little bit of frustration that seems to develop.
Then overall, the guys understanding, I mean, you see some of the things that we’ve been seeing from the backs and from the tight ends that are chipping their way out. Shoot, we even got a couple snaps where we have the receivers chipping and all understanding just how important it is. It’s all kind of coming together, I think, at the right time for us offensively.
Rivera on Kam Curl: "veteran leader... his play is very savvy and very timely. You see him coming up with solid plays at the right time."— John Keim (@john_keim) November 8, 2023
Well, I’ll tell you, he’s been very solid for us, doing a lot of the good things that we ask of him and then doing more. I mean, he’s a terrific football player, a guy that is a veteran leader now. You see his play, it’s very savvy and it’s very timely. You see him come up with solid plays at the right time in terms of third down and making a big tackle or knocking the ball away, something like that. He’s been a solid force.
Preparing for D.K. Metcalf after facing A.J. Brown twice:
I think it’ll be something that we can draw from, I most certainly. I do think it’s a heck of a challenge for our guys in the secondary and I really do believe based on some of the things that we’ve done in the last few weeks, I think it’ll be a good, good challenge for us.
Highlighting this season to new ownership:
Well, I just think as you look at what we’re doing and we continue to be competitive, that’s probably the biggest thing right now. We’ve had a lot of change, a lot of things that we’re doing differently and just trying to put it together. I mean, for me, the biggest thing is just to continue to play hard and continue to do the best we can and hopefully win some football games more so than anything else. I mean, the truth is, this is about winning. That’s the biggest thing that comes from the audition more than anything else.
Ron Rivera on Chase Young's comments to 49ers media: "I think culturally it's a really solid place. We're still learning and growing. ... I do think, for the most part, things can be really bright for us. ... I really appreciate who [Chase] is for us ... and just wish him all the…— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) November 8, 2023
I think first and foremost is that, to me as far as I’m concerned, I’m excited about our football team. I like the things that we’re doing. I like the direction we’re headed. I think culturally it’s a really solid place. We’re still learning and growing. We have a young quarterback that’s learning and growing for us. I do think that for the most part, things can be very bright for us if it continues to go in the right direction. As far as Chase is concerned and his comments, I really appreciate who he is for us and who he was for us. Did some nice things and just wish him all the luck in San Francisco.
Tress Way winning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week and the special teams unit as a whole:
It’s been happening over the last couple of years. Last year, Jeremy becomes the Pro Bowl special teams player and then gets voted All-Pro special teams player. To me, that’s one of the areas that is very positive as far as growth is concerned. I got the right kind of guys out there doing it. I think Nate Kaczor’s done a terrific job. I think him and Ben make a terrific team of position coaches for us as far as special teams are concerned.
Tress is just the ultimate pro. He really is, he’s one of the captains and does a great job of leading that group of guys. What it does say about Tress winning the award, one of the things that was really cool about it was we had five punts that were down inside the 20 or that ended up inside the 20. A lot of it had to do with not just him kicking the ball, but the guys that are covering everything from what goes on with Cheeseman at the long snapping position and Burgess coming in and replacing Jeremy and being able to help hold down the fort.
Then our gunners, the way those guys are playing and breaking free and getting down. I mean, that whole unit has done a nice, solid job for us as far as special teams is concerned. There are a couple other bright spots too, as far as special teams is concerned. We had three punt returns over 10 yards. Anytime you can do that, that means that’s 10 yards less that the offense has to gain before they’re in scoring position. We opened up with I think it was a 37-yard kickoff return by Antonio. Again, that is one less first down you have to get if we had downed it and taken it at the 25.
So, there’s been a lot of positive growth and you see that and when you start seeing a lot of your young picks, your young draft picks playing well on special teams, that’s usually a good indicator that given the opportunity to play regularly at a position, bodes well. So, there’s a lot of positives to take from that.
Chris Rodriguez’s growth:
Chris has done a solid job, he really has. Whenever he’s gotten an opportunity to come in and run, he has run the ball pretty well for us. It is just as you watch it with what’s going on with Antonio and BRob. I think both those guys are finding their stride now within this offense. Last week was a good week for both those backs. So, it just hasn’t really given Chris the opportunity to play running back as much as I think he would like to and we would like to see a little bit more from him if he gets the opportunity. But, watching him on special teams and how he’s growing, that’s been really good. It’s been a cool thing to see that he’s taking every opportunity he can and that’s to give his best. So, that’s been really good as well.
Helping Sam Howell with the crowd noise in Seattle:
The biggest thing was a lot of that stuff will be based off of hand signals and stuff like that as well. It is understanding what the play call is and then what the alerts or the checks are. Again, that will all have to be dictated by what’s going on with the hand signals. We’ve played at some pretty noisy places this year for the most part. We’ve worked a lot with the no-huddles and just using all the hand signals and stuff like that. That’s probably the biggest thing is everybody’s got to be able to pay attention. Everybody’s got to be able to see what they see and be on the same page more so than anything else. The better you are at that, the less likely there’ll be a mistake or a missed signal or a call or something. Again, as far as our offensive line is concerned, they’ve just got to be patient and hopefully we won’t have any illegal procedures.
Having a pass heavy offense in order to win:
I started my coaching career, my positional coaching career, under Andy Reid. Just understanding what that mentality is and what Coach Reid’s mentality was, and I know it’s rubbed off a lot on EB to be quite honest. I see the extended handoff attitude. I also see that we do some things in terms of just trying to catch the defense anticipating something, and that was always something that was big for Coach Reid as well. I know that EB has carried that over as well and having been part of that success that Andy had early on, I can see it and I see a lot of positives, a lot of parallels right now. I really do.
The thing that’s very exciting for us both has been the growth and development of the quarterback. Sam has been terrific. I think the players around him are getting it as well and understanding these things. I think we’ve all had some ‘aha’ moments just saying, ‘Okay, I get it, I understand that part of it.’ As we continue to grow and do those things, I think the best thing is we can just continue to develop. I’m pretty excited about who this team can become.
Seeing the effects of having days off and less padded practices:
I think we do because in the last couple of weeks is really what you’ve seen. I thought, again, the game against Philadelphia we saw some guys playing with some really good GPS numbers and then this past week looking at those numbers, they’re all positives. Those are good things. And really now, it’s about giving them a chance to have an extra day to get their bodies back.
Today, the high emphasis more than anything else on Wednesdays is the mental aspect and really just making sure you’re aware of what we’re trying to do. Like for the offensive linemen, understanding what we’re going to see versus this defensive front. For the receivers, what kind of coverages are we going to get and how are we going to be able to beat those coverages. And really just trying to see it as the proposed game plans are given to all three phases and it’s really the mental aspect, the X’s and O’s.
Tomorrow, we’ll ramp it up with the tempo. Then Friday, we’ll try to ramp it up even more so that by the time we get to Sunday, we’re on an upswing more so than those first few weeks or the first seven, eight weeks as far as just the work and getting those things down. Now that you’re at the halfway point, the attitude is again, like I said, a lot of this comes from when I was with Andy Reid is now it’s about getting them back physically and then preparing them so that things are ramping up towards the end of the week.
The plan to attack Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith despite his ability to beat pressure at home:
I think a lot of times for guys like that, it’s more about reacting to what they’re seeing and what’s happening. I think sometimes for some guys, the tendency could be to overthink. Cam Newton was a tremendous guy that I watched, in terms of just reacting to what was happening. Just making quick decisions, which sometimes helps guys. It’s like watching Sam run our two-minute drill. He’s been very effective doing that for us because it’s more about reacting to what you’re seeing, and you don’t have to overthink things. You can get to the line of scrimmage, make your calls, and then once you get the ball, now you’re just reacting to what you’re seeing.
Lack of pass rush production vs New England and sticking with the same rotation:
We are for the most part, but there’s some things that you can do to help the pass rush and again, we’ll work on those things and hopefully it’ll show on Sunday.
Jahan Dotson working through the drops:
First thing was really the frustration on his face because he knows he’s better than that. You could tell, but then you could see him working extra pre-practice, post-practice, just talking and spending time with Bobby Engram and just listening to them go through things and just him understanding that it’s just, a little more work here, a little more work there.
Sometimes it happens. Sometimes guys go into slumps, but the biggest way to get out really, is just to work through it. That’s what he’s done. I think right now he’s to the point now where he’s very comfortable in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. I think he and Sam have developed a pretty good rapport as well.
Jacoby Brissett helping in loud road environments:
Yes, he will be. He most certainly will be. Jacoby’s, I mean, he’s tremendous. He really is. I understand why he’s one of those guys that a lot of people are trying to find. He’s done a tremendous job for us. He’s been great for Sam and he’s helped us out all tremendously.
Bring on Seattle.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 8, 2023
This is a big game for Washington. They are chasing Seattle in the standings.
Terry McLaurin told me, "it's a great test for us to see if we can go on the road and put another good week back to back and try to get a win." pic.twitter.com/etopOPVjpn
Commanders rookie CB Emmanuel Forbes took a big step in the right direction last week.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 8, 2023
He was really good in Washington's win vs. NE.
Forbes told me, "it's a big confidence thing, I just have to stay consistent with it and just keep going week in and week out and performing" pic.twitter.com/ef2k1zDJDY
Playing the Seahawks:
This will be the first time for many of the Commanders players that they're playing Seattle.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 8, 2023
That's the case with Jonathan Allen.
He told me, "I don't look into too much. I am excited to see what it's like...I want to go in there and play good football for my team." pic.twitter.com/X9C85jOeva
Daron Payne and the Commanders defense know they will have their hands full in Seattle.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 8, 2023
If Washington wants to make the playoffs...a win against the Seahawks will help.
Daron told me, "we are just trying to stack these wins and go out there and play some good football." pic.twitter.com/5NN1jD8UEn
It's always great to see a rookie step up and make a huge play.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) November 8, 2023
That's exactly what Commanders safety
Quan Martin did against the Patriots.
He told me, "it's' definitely a confidence booster moving forward, just knowing that I can compete at that level and know I belong." pic.twitter.com/p7jTPzHnMn