Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Washington Commanders fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in regular email surveys.
We begin our survey with the usual weekly question that asks if you are confident in the direction of the team. Now that the Adam Peters era has officially begun, how are you feeling?
It’s an awkward time to poll the Washington fan base. Josh Harris has officially taken over the process of transforming the franchise. Last week’s survey showed overwhelming support for what he and the ownership group are doing. The head coaching search is underway, though with respect to candidates employed by other NFL teams, it is limited to preliminary online interviews at the moment. Of course, candidates already employed by the Commanders or anyone not working for the NFL can be interviewed at any time. In-person interviews with current NFL coaches for any team other than the Commanders can only begin after the Divisional Round of the playoffs is completed on Sunday — that is, Monday the 22nd is the first date that face-to-face interviews can happen.
The list of candidates that has been publicly disclosed is well-known, and re-published daily on Hogs Haven’s Coaching/Front Office Tracker. It is, of course, possible that the team is interested in other candidates as well that simply haven’t been reported. But from the list of known candidates, there has been robust discussion on Hogs Haven since the day that Ron Rivera was officially fired less than two weeks ago.
Until the next head coach is identified, it’s a bit tough to turn our attention to many specifics like which Washington players to extend or trade, or which player to draft in April.
I’ve opted instead to ‘take the temperature’ of Hogs Haven readers on a very broad question — the level of patience you have for the coming transition. I’ve always believed that Ron Rivera set himself up on Day 1 of his tenure by saying that he didn’t have the patience for a 5-year rebuild, and then talking about competing in Super Bowls. As each succeeding season came and went, fans were — rightly, in my opinion — asking why it felt so much like no immediate progress was being made. By the end of Ron Rivera’s fourth season, it was clear that the on-field aspect of the Commanders had actually regressed since the start of his tenure.
Commanders owners Josh Harris, Mitch Rales and Mark Ein are also lifelong Washington football fans. They’ve lived through the pain that has steadily increased for the past thirty years. They know the deep sense of frustration that we’ve all had to live with as we’ve continued to root for bad teams year after year since the turn of the century.
Even with this knowledge, Josh Harris has, in recent public comments, exhorted fans that doing it right may not be compatible with doing it fast. He certainly took a “rapid but thorough” process to hire the most coveted GM candidate in the NFL right now, and we can probably anticipate that next week will bring news of a coaching hire that will cement January 2024 as a watershed moment in franchise history.
But what comes after that is a tough, long-term process of implementing the aligned vision of owners, GM and coaching staff through roster re-construction and a new approach to team building. I suspect we all hope that the Commanders can do what the Houston Texans did this season when they made it to the playoffs (and won) with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback.
But Josh Harris’s words seem to be aimed at preparing Washington fans for something a bit less dramatic — more in the way of trench warfare than blitzkreig. The lead owner hasn’t ruled out a speedy turnaround, but has stressed that his interest is in long-term success and building a team that can consistently compete for championships. He cautioned that doing it right may be in conflict with doing it fast. Building a championship NFL football team is not the same as recruiting the top GM or coaching candidate. One man can be interviewed and hired in a week; championship rosters may take years to achieve.
Our second question today offers descriptions of 5 potential outcomes for the near future of Commanders football, and invites you to choose one to indicate your level of patience for the restoration of this once-great franchise. Like all polls of this type, the descriptions are imperfect for the task; your opinion will be much more nuanced. As always, I invite you to participate in the imperfect survey as a means of generating fruitful discussion of the franchise we all care about so much. Remember, the guys who run the team (probably) pay attention to what we say here.
Comments & Results
Of course, we invite you to answer the survey questions below, but also feel free to expand on your answers and provide nuance in the comments section. I rely on those comments when discussing the results of the survey when they are posted in a separate article the next few days.