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#pounditThursday, June 24, 2021

Articles tagged: Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera finally admits Dwayne Haskins had issues with work ethic

Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins’ release by the Washington Football Team was a bit surprising at the time, but it sounds like the organization was simply reacting to what it saw.

In a podcast interview with FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd, Washington coach Ron Rivera admitted that he saw issues with Haskins’ effort and commitment. Rivera said that Haskins “puts in the time, and then he doesn’t.” Rivera added that Haskins can still succeed in the NFL, but needs to learn to “prioritize.”

It’s not the first time we’ve heard about Haskins’ work ethic issues, but it is the first time someone affiliated with the organization said so publicly. Haskins’ on-field play was an issue, but probably not the primary one. It was the lack of improvement, and the apparent unwillingness to work to get better. Washington took away his starting job after four weeks in 2020, and the team likely hoped that would function as a wake-up call. Instead, his behavior just got even more baffling.

Haskins has since signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there seems to be some optimism there that they can help fix his issues. If they can’t, it’s probably not happening.

Ron Rivera admits he was initially afraid to play Alex Smith

Ron Rivera

Alex Smith made a remarkable comeback from his gruesome leg injury to play capably for the Washington Football Team in 2020, but there were real reservations about making it happen.

Washington coach Ron Rivera admitted that he was nervous about putting Smith on the field, noting that he didn’t want to be the guy who sent the quarterback out only to get hurt again.

“It was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg again? I’ll be the guy that put him back on the field to get him hurt again,” Rivera said Wednesday, via John Keim of ESPN. “I struggled with that every day. That was tough.”

Rivera even admitted that Smith was partly right when he said that he got the sense the team didn’t want him. The coach admitted there were legitimate concerns about his ability to play at that point.

Smith is a free agent after being released by Washington by mutual agreement. Assuming he tries to keep playing, it will be interesting if the same things go through the mind of his next coach.

Ron Rivera weighs in on Alex Smith’s future with Washington

Alex Smith

The Washington Football Team clearly has an unsettled quarterback situation, but coach Ron Rivera won’t commit to his veteran starter for 2021.

Rivera said Wednesday that he would evaluate Smith, but did not guarantee him a starting job for 2021. The coach did acknowledge that a veteran quarterback might make sense, however.

Smith went 5-1 as Washington’s regular season starter. The rest of his statistical profile was less impressive, as he threw six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

We do know Smith is not a long-term solution, as he turns 37 in May. We also know that Washington is serious about finding its new franchise quarterback. Whether that happens this offseason or not is not clear, but this is definitely an unsettled quarterback situation worth watching.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0

Washington coach Ron Rivera declared cancer-free

Ron Rivera

Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera received excellent news about his health on Thursday.

Rivera’s daughter Courtney tweeted Thursday that Rivera had been declared cancer-free after initially being diagnosed last August. Rivera’s wife Stephanie also confirmed the news.

Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in August and was treated through October, including chemotherapy, all while coaching the team. He was quite open about how the cancer impacted his routine and his ability to do his job. Despite this, he coached every game of the season, including the team’s playoff appearance against Tampa Bay.

This is outstanding news for Rivera, and it sounds like the 59-year-old is in the clear health-wise ahead of the 2021 season.

Ron Rivera admits he was ‘surprised’ Tom Brady left Patriots

Tom Brady Bucs

Tom Brady’s own father said years ago that he did not believe things would end well for his son in New England, but plenty of people were still shocked when Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington head coach Ron Rivera was among those who did not see it coming.

Rivera, who is preparing his team to take on the Bucs in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, told reporters this week that he didn’t believe the talk of Brady leaving New England until it actually happened.

“I really was surprised that he did leave,” Rivera said, via Ethan Cadeaux of NBC 4 in Washington. “I was one of those that really did think he wouldn’t leave.”

Rivera certainly was not alone. Many assumed Patriots owner Robert Kraft would step in if Bill Belichick ever wanted to move on from Brady, but the relationship had obviously run its course. Brady looked like he may have been nearing the end of his career with the way he struggled in New England last year, but he then threw 40 touchdown passes this season with a better supporting cast.

As far as Rivera is concerned, Brady does not look his age.

“I didn’t realize he was 43 because I’ll tell you, he throws the ball like he’s 23,” Rivera said. “He really does. He’s got the arm strength. He delivers a good ball. He’s still who he is. That’s the scary part. He may be that age, but he sure doesn’t play like it.”

There’s virtually no chance Washington will underestimate Brady, which makes sense considering Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion. The media has made a big deal out of the way Chase Young called out Brady, but the rookie explained his motivation for that on Wednesday.

With the Patriots struggling in 2020 and missing the playoffs, it certainly looks like Brady made the right choice leaving.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Ron Rivera shares thoughts on Eagles seemingly laying down for Washington

Ron Rivera

The Philadelphia Eagles made a mind-blowing decision to play Nate Sudfeld over Jalen Hurts late in their loss to Washington on Sunday night, but Ron Rivera rejects the idea that his team got a free pass into the postseason.

Rivera was asked on Monday about Eagles head coach Doug Pederson pulling Hurts with Philly trailing 17-14 late in the second half. He defended Washington’s road to the playoffs and said he’ll never “apologize” for winning a game. Rivera also mentioned how the Cleveland Browns clinched a postseason berth against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that rested several starters.

“I’m not going to apologize for winning … Nobody complained when Pittsburgh did what they did against Cleveland,” Rivera said, via ESPN’s John Keim. “We got in the playoffs. You apologize for losing in the playoffs, but you don’t apologize for getting in. it was a hard road for us.”

Rivera is right. It’s fair to wonder what Pederson was thinking, as he claims he was “coaching to win.” Bringing in Sudfeld and leaving him in when he struggled is not coaching to win, and Pederson knows it. That doesn’t mean Washington had control over any of that.

Rivera’s story is easily one of the most remarkable of the 2020 NFL season. He battled cancer during the year and was visibly struggling to get through some games. He should feel a great sense of pride about leading his team to the playoffs no matter which quarterback was under center for the Eagles.

Ron Rivera has to change his routine for Sunday night game

Ron Rivera

Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera has an added challenge when it comes to preparing for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Washington can win the NFC East with a victor. The high stakes led to the game being shifted to “Sunday Night Football.” That presents a challenge for Rivera, who still suffers from fatigue after concluding cancer treatment in October. Rivera admitted that the 8:20 p.m. ET start time represents when he’d usually be getting ready for bed, so he’s making adjustments to be able to coach.

“I will have a nap during the day, take a break in between just looking at some game plan stuff and tape. I’ll take a break and try to get a little bit more rest,” Rivera said Thursday, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “It was interesting because the Pittsburgh game, I had a little bit of that too going on and I was able to take a nap at the stadium. I just got to pay attention to that and make sure I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to rest.”

Rivera concluded treatment for lymph node cancer in October, and commemorated it with this great tweet. He’s still dealing with the residual effects, though. They make his job a little more complicated, but he’s got a plan to deal with it.

Ron Rivera shares thoughts on cutting Dwayne Haskins

Ron Rivera

Washington owner Daniel Snyder assured Ron Rivera that he would have roster control when Rivera accepted the team’s head coaching job last offseason, and it does not sound like that agreement was breached with the Dwayne Haskins situation.

Rivera told reporters on Wednesday that he is the one who made the decision to waive Haskins this week. He said Snyder was supportive of the move.

“I felt it was time to make the move. I made the decision,” Rivera said, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “I informed the owner of my decision. He was supportive and it was just something I felt we had to do. It was something I felt was in the best interest of both parties.”

One report claimed Rivera wanted to release Haskins last week but was talked out of it by Doug Williams, Washington’s senior vice president of player development. Williams denied that, and it sounds unlikely that Rivera would have been forced into keeping a player in his first season on the job.

Haskins was benched multiple times this season for his poor play. The former first-round pick was also stripped of his captain role recently for violating COVID-19 protocols by attending a party maskless.

Rivera may have ultimately made the decision, but there can’t have been much opposition. We learned on Tuesday that Haskins’ behavior was part of a troubling pattern.

Ron Rivera has high praise for benched Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins fell out of favor with Washington’s coaching staff earlier in the season, but that does not mean he has lost the respect of head coach Ron Rivera.

Rivera was asked about Haskins on Friday, and he had nothing but positive things to say about the former Ohio State star. Rivera said he has been pleased with the progress Haskins has shown since he was benched earlier in the year.

“(He’s) really grown in the last month in terms of the things we talked about wanting to see him understand,” River said, according to ESPN’s John Keim. “The young man is a talent and he’s learning the rest of it. I like what he’s doing on the field.”

It’s noteworthy that Rivera said he likes what Haskins is doing on the field. Carrying yourself like a professional and performing well in practice are two separate things, and it sounds like Rivera has been impressed with Haskins’ play.

Haskins entered the season as Washington’s starter but fell to third on the depth chart behind both Alex Smith and Kyle Allen. There have been some questions about his priorities and focus, but a clip from Sunday’s game that went viral (see it here) appeared to show Haskins is committed to being a great teammate. Couple that with Rivera’s comments and it sounds like the former No. 15 overall pick is handling a tough situation quite well.

Ron Rivera says Washington’s trick play inspired by ‘Little Giants’

Ron Rivera

The Washington Football Team ran a fumblerooski to perfection during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, and Ron Rivera says the creative play was inspired by a children’s movie.

In the second quarter of the game, Washington ran the trick play and picked up a first down in the red zone.

After the team’s 41-16 win, Rivera said he got the trick play from the movie “Little Giants.” In that movie, the Giants use a trick play in their game against the Cowboys that they called “The Annexation of Puerto Rico,” which is a fumblerooski play.

What’s incredible is that Rivera also ran the play in 2011 and attributed it to “Little Giants.”

The Annexation of Puerto Rico has been very very good to Rivera.