Ron Rivera spoke to the media after practice, and as usual the team did not provide video. The Washington Commanders released their final injury report for Sunday’s season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Jacoby Brissett injured his hamstring last week after being named the starter in place of Sam Howell. He was the team’s 3rd-string emergency QB, with Jake Fromm getting signed from the practice squad to be the backup. Brissett doesn’t have an injury designation after practicing fully, but Rivera said the backup QB decision wouldn’t be made until later today.
Ron Rivera is going into the final week of his fourth year as head coach of the Washington Commanders and it has not been a success. The team is currently 4-12, and they are 13-point home underdogs against the Cowboys. Washington could be in line for the 2nd overall pick with a loss, and that would be the most positive thing to come out of this lost season. Rivera is expected to be fired on Black Monday, along with his coaching staff and most of the front office.
Rivera was asked to reflect on his time in Washington, his current .500 record as an NFL coach, and also his role as top personnel guy, and head coach of the team. Rivera said he didn’t know that a loss against Dallas would make him a losing NFL coach, and that was more motivation to get a win. He also said that he expects managing partner Josh Harris to have a traditional NFL structure(GM/HC), instead of the coach-centric model that former owner Dan Snyder was pushing for. That has been a failure on many levels, and will end on Sunday, Ron Rivera’s birthday.
Backup QB vs the Cowboys not decided:
Ron Rivera said they haven't decided yet if Jacoby Brissett or Jake Fromm will be the backup QB Sunday. They'll determine that later today.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 5, 2024
No, we’ll get all that set probably later today when we go through the roster.
How he feels the staff and players have handled this week of preparation:
I think they’ve handled it pretty well for the most part. Meetings have been good, practices have been good, spirited, [good] tempo. That’s one of the things that all you can ask is come out and be a professional and do the things that you need to do.
How reflective he has been this week on the season and his time in Washington:
Ron Rivera says he’s not worried about reflection as he’s focused on the game this week pic.twitter.com/cuajrgTJ0J— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 5, 2024
Not very, to be honest. I mean, the only time I’ve really thought about is when you guys have asked, seriously. The big thing more than anything else is we got one left to play and whatever happens afterwards happens.
What he’s looking to see from the young guys who have filled roles in the secondary:
Well, as far as any young guy that gets out there and gets the opportunity to play is really doing your job, using your technique, playing with discipline, making the plays that you should make. I think that’s really what you want from the young guys. Been trying to stress to them don’t do more than you’re being asked. That’s when bad things happen. And so, we’ve tried to make sure they understand that and emphasize that, doing what you’re being asked, being part of the defense, doing those things is big. And on the offensive side, do your jobs.
Keeping guys motivated since being eliminated from the playoffs:
Yeah, I mean that’s basically it, is just trying to get to understand it. You’re a professional, there are expectations of being a pro and really just understanding what it does mean. I mean, showing up, doing your job is important.
If it’s important to him to get above .500 for his career record (102-102-2):
Ron Rivera said he did not know his career record was .500. Knowing that, he was asked if finishing above .500 was important. "Now it is, yeah," he said.— John Keim (@john_keim) January 5, 2024
Now it is, now that you mentioned it. I’m serious. I mean, you want to go out and you want to do the best you can. You want to be able to say you won. I’ve been very fortunate, reflect on what I’ve done as a coach in terms of getting a team to a Super Bowl. That’s a pretty big deal. But it’s, yeah, now it is, yeah.
Why things spiraled after the promising start to the season:
There’s a number of things. But it’s unfortunate. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s my responsibility. And so that’s what’s most disappointing for me is that there were some things that we just didn’t get done. And that’s the hard part.
Will Eric Bieniemy will be in consideration for top jobs?:
I think he can be. I mean, you never know what people are thinking. I think the biggest thing for Eric is the things that he’s learned. And hopefully he’ll take those things and continue to use them and help him grow. But we’ll see. I mean you never know what people are thinking or what people are looking for. It’s not necessarily just what has happened now as much as it’s about the body of work. And I think that sometimes speaks for itself. It’s hard to tell what people are thinking.
If the body of work can be seen despite the results not being there this year:
For the one year? Yeah. I mean, you’re talking about the whole body of work, and I’m talking about his whole career. I mean, guys who’ve done less have gotten opportunities and so we’ll see what happens.
Managing vs coaching:
Ron Rivera opens up a bit about his Washington tenure, says circumstances forced him to take on too much non-football role: “For 3.5 years I’ve been managing. About the last 5 weeks I’ve been coaching.” pic.twitter.com/BuZGIiEvMB— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 5, 2024
You know, it’s interesting and I don’t know if people will agree with me or believe in what I’m saying, but to hell with that. I managed for about three and a half years while I was here. I managed probably the last five weeks I’ve coached, getting back and doing the defensive coordinator stuff was a thrill. It really was. And you can ask some of the guys, that’s been fun, that really has. There’s some really fond memories I’ll have of it.
See, now I’m reflecting. There really are. And we’ll see what happens. I mean, nobody knows what’s going to happen. All I know is we play on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and play, see what happens. Somebody asked me earlier today, “How do you get motivated for this game?” I said, “Hell, it’s Dallas. How do you not get motivated?” So that’s kind of the cool deal for me. But like I said, the last five weeks have been fun. They really have. Doing the things that we’ve done and playing certain things and working with guys, that’s what coaching is about to me.
And then watching some of the growth. I mean, I’ve mentioned him several times, but I think watching a young man like Quan Martin who’s really come into his own. It’s a young man that’s playing both nickel and safety, in my opinion playing at a high level for a rookie. He’s a guy that I think if we could have got him going sooner, you’d see even better things from him. Right now, I think you’re seeing a lot of good things, and I think he has a bright future.
Watching Sam Cosmi come into his own this year has been really kind of a cool deal. Sam’s been one of those guys that just continues to just get better and better, and he’s got a very bright future ahead too. So, to me that’s the fun part of coaching.
If coaching the defense has sparked a desire to be more involved in the gameday aspect of coaching than before:
Well, I mean, I had certain responsibilities before that were, you know, you get pulled away from certain things, certain things happen. You got to deal with certain things, you got to respond to certain things, you got to correct or set up, so that was different. But being in the middle of it now, yeah, that’s kind of cool. I mean, it is something that you think about that, that you want to be involved with.
If he realized how much he missed the gameday coaching aspect:
Yes. I really did. I didn’t realize it until I started doing it again, and then it was really different. It really was, because you get behind what they’re doing and the game planning and the adjustments and the little details of it sometimes. And now, getting back into the middle of it and really just wanting to just focus on one thing and that’s coaching, that was pretty cool.
If he’d like to have coached more than managed:
Oh, yeah, I would love that. I mean, that’s what it’s about. But it’s the situation that we were in, and so it was just trying to make the best of it and trying to keep everything together. There were sometimes where some outside something would come up and having to deal with it.
Go back to Chicago last year and the SI thing coming out just before the game and I meant it too, after the game, everybody’s focus was on what SI had to say and not what our players just did. That was the frustration for me, was that the focus wasn’t on those guys in the locker room. The focus was on stuff that didn’t have anything to do with football.
That was really what I felt like I was always fighting, was trying to keep the focus on the players, on them. This game is about players. This is a player’s game. You don’t have the players, you don’t get the players doing the things that they’re capable of, you’re going to struggle. And that’s, I think, part of what we’ve had to deal with.
If the Bears game in 2022 was a buildup of what had taken place outside of football:
Yeah. Oh, it was, it really was. I mean, it was very cathartic for me at one point. It really just kind of culminated in me responding that way, I think more than anything else.
Josh Harris Coach/GM split:
Ron Rivera said he expects Josh Harris to split coach and front office duties moving forward. https://t.co/lZ0rNwiVot— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) January 5, 2024
Well, based on what I look at what they plan to do, I believe it’s really going to be the separation of the coaching and personnel. I mean, it’ll be separate and that I think is going to be really good.
If he knew his role was going to be more challenging than just coaching when he was hired:
Yeah, but that wasn’t the only thing that was the challenging part of it too was all the other stuff that came with it. That was a lot, a lot more than I had anticipated there.
If he would have preferred managing and coaching to be a better split:
Well, if I knew all that, in hindsight, yeah, absolutely. I didn’t want that pressure. I mean, it’s one thing to think, okay, yeah, great, but then once you actually go through it, it was a lot.
If this experience has made him a better coach:
I think it gave me a whole different perspective. I’ll tell you that much, it really does. It gives you a different perspective on things. But the league is what the league is. It’s a hell of a deal, it really is. To me it was about managing and trying to keep things going in the right direction.
Congrats to Terry McLaurin; first 4-time winner of the Washington Media Good Guy award winner. Consistent professionalism. He doesn't change, whether he/the team is going well or not. https://t.co/fYaHtV7Sm9— John Keim (@john_keim) January 5, 2024
Four-peat: Commanders WR Terry McLaurin won the “Good Guy” award from Washington media for the fourth consecutive season. pic.twitter.com/UTIVwWYIad— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 5, 2024
Plans for the week after the season:
Curtis Samuel, on his plan for next week:— michael phillips (@michaelpinRVA) January 5, 2024
"Oh man. I'm really gonna lay on my couch for like a good two days and not have to worry about waking up in the morning. Honestly. Probably watch some shows. Then go try to find some sand."
Curtis Samuel on impending free agency: "I really ain't pay too much attention about it. I'm ready to go out there one last time and finish the season the right way and try to enjoy my offseason. ... I'm ready to go lay down and relax a little bit."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 5, 2024