Ron Rivera is preparing to face an old rival from the NFC South. Sean Payton was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints when Rivera was coaching the Carolina Panthers. Payton has the advantage in their head-to-head matchup, winning 10 of their 16 games. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio also has a history facing Payton’s Saints, but he lost both games when he was the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach. Payton is now coaching the Denver Broncos and working with former Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Both men have a lot to prove, and a lot of knowledge of the game.
Rivera praised Montez Sweat and the rest of the defensive line. He talked about their discipline, and working together as a cohesive unit. They’ve adapted to what Del Rio wants from them, and really finished the game for them against the Cardinals last week. Rivera is also excited to get Chase Young back into the rotation, and he said the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is working through the doctor’s plan for contact in practice. Young suffered a neck injury during the first preseason game, and has been limited in practice since early August. He is still expected to miss Sunday’s game, and Week 3’s home game against the Buffalo Bills looks like his targeted return date.
Coach Rivera speaks to the media after Wednesday's practice of Broncos week https://t.co/cCHHu8Ev4r— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) September 13, 2023
Commanders vs Broncos Wednesday Injury Report: Curtis Samuel was limited at practice todayhttps://t.co/yeqXZDrxmd— COMMANDERS FOOTBALL (@HogsHaven) September 14, 2023
Coaching against Sean Payton over the years:
It was always difficult because you know, Sean’s one of those guys that has a lot of answers, he really does. Just because he knows how he wants to attack you and if you counter it, he has something prepared, ready to go. And Jack’s gone against him as well, so we both have a pretty good understanding. But there’s always still that unknown with him. I mean, he’s got a quarterback who’s very smart, makes good decisions. He’s got some skilled position players. So, were expecting some stuff that’s very similar to things he’s done in the past.
Difference in the defensive line veterans this year compared to previous years:
Well, I think you see a lot more discipline in their play. I think they play with a lot of confidence because they understand it. They know where they’re going. They understand how the fronts are being married to the coverages and why even more so now. They know each other very well in terms of who’s rushing with who in terms of the ends and tackles that are rushing together. So, it’s kind of interesting that you’ve heard people say, ‘Hey, I just knew what he was going to do and we just had to look at each other and we knew what we wanted to do.’ You get a little bit of sense of that, that’s what’s happening to that group.
Importance of having a quick start this season:
It’s always important. Winning is important. That’s the bottom line to it. We want to win every game we play. And so, this approach will be no different than any other approach we’ve had. We understand the urgency, the sense of urgency. Our concern more so than anything else is just winning and that’s the way we’re going to approach everything is to win.
Camaron Cheeseman’s snaps:
Well, it is a concern more than anything else. And so we’ll just continue to have Camaron snap and until, unfortunately something happens, then we’ll decide from there. But right now, we’re handling it, we’re putting the ball through the upright, which is most important. And I believe it’s just something that he’s working out.
Importance of the backup quarterback:
Very much so. We were fortunate to have Taylor and this year we’re fortunate enough to have Jacoby, who we think is an outstanding player. He is a big part of that room and has been very good for us to have.
Chase was able to take the reps that he was supposed to take and he did everything the doctors prescribed for him to do as far as the contact was concerned.
Young's plan going forward:
We'll continue to go about what the doctor's plan is and we'll go from there.
How QB Sam Howell has looked since the Arizona Cardinals game:
l think he learned. I think he grew. He understood and he knows, he and I had a couple of conversations and one thing that he said in our first conversation, he knows he’s got to play better. He knows that he missed some opportunities, but at the same time I also know that he knows he made some plays. And again, we just got to make sure we protect the football and as a team, as a unit, we just got to protect the quarterback. That includes him too. He’s got to understand he’s got to protect himself as well.
Travel plan for Denver:
What it has done is, we will leave a little bit later in the afternoon. We're prescribing to that whole thought process is that if you're there for less than 24 hours, you're not going to feel the impact. So as far as we're concerned, we like the conditioning we've had this year. We really think our conditioning is one of the things that should carry us in this game. So that's the way we're going to approach it.
Second half adjustments with the offense:
No, that was in EB’s hands. EB is the predominant play caller. As he goes through it and he sees certain things that he feels that he should do or they should do, he has the autonomy to do those things.
Montez Sweat finishing plays last week:
l don’t know if I’d say improvement as much as he finished. I mean, he’s always had that skillset to get to the quarterback and be disruptive. The big word, and you used it, I think was a great word, was he finished. He did some really good things. He created the big play when we needed it. Created some momentum for us on both sides of the ball and we were able to ride that wave and then you really saw the guys play. So, it was great to see him finish for the most part when he had those opportunities. And I know it’s one of the things that Jack talked to him about as well.
Offensive line pay vs performance:
l don’t think there is. I think we haven’t gotten to that point yet where we have one of our young guys that will be in a position where, we’ll pay them. I mean, it could come very soon. I thought Sam Cosmi played exceptionally well. He really did. He had a pretty solid day. Played very smart, played with good vision. There are a couple examples, some of the things that he did on some of the run blocks and then you can pull a couple shots of some of the things he did in protection, but Sam had a really good day. I think it’s really one of those things that as players come of age that you draft and if you draft well enough at that position, you’ll be able to sign your own. Sam’s the highest drafted guy I think we have right now that we drafted at the offensive line position.
Rivera on Russell Wilson: "Still has good arm, good mobility. He's moving well. He's still growing in Sean Payton's offense."— George Wallace (@GWallaceWTOP) September 13, 2023
l see he still has a good arm, good mobility back there. They talked about how he had lost weight and you see it. He’s moving well. He l s still a good decision maker. He gets the ball out quick. He’s got an NFL arm still. I think he’s still learning and growing in Coach Payton’s offense. Sean’s got a, shoot, I had to coach against him for nine straight years in the same division and just knowing he’s got a very good offense. It’s very diverse. He utilizes his playmakers very well and the idea is trying to get the ball to them as quickly as possible. And I think Russell has the type of arm that can suit it and fit very well. So, I think as they work together and they grow, they’re gonna become more and more efficient and they’re gonna cause a lot more problems for people.
Defensive line meeting expectations:
Well, I think it was just a matter of, first of all, learning and adapting to what Jack was expecting of them. I think once we got things straightened out with the staff, I think you could really start to see those guys come together last year. I thought they finished on a very, very high note and I’m excited to see it. Also, as Chase gets back on the field, again, he’s working hard doing everything he needs to do, but we’ll just see how the doctors react to it this week. As I mentioned earlier, he did his contact that he was allowed to do and then he did everything else, the non-contact stuff. So, we’ll see how it all unfolds, but it was very promising.
Preparing Sam Howell for his first road start:
Well, I think the biggest thing with him more than anything else is just talking about what the situation and circumstances are. I’m not trying to feature or highlight anything with him other than the next game and it just happens that it is going to be on the road. It’ll be his first real start on the road as well. It’ll be in a good environment, good football environment, but the thing about it too is he’s not going to this alone. He’s got five good playmakers out there around him at all times and I think our offensive line with some of the things that we’re doing is going to get better and better and I think as they hit their stride, I think we can be pretty good.