Redskins turn of the decade has no historical equal
By Ian Cummings
The “new Redskins” came into existence only a week ago, and already, there’s something different about this team. Not only what’s gone, but what’s here, and what’s still here.
Ron Rivera is the new head coach of the Washington Redskins, and he is the authority figure in football operations. There’s no team president to inflict blame, or to uproot the franchise at its core anymore. It’s Rivera and Snyder. And even when the team finalizes its general manager position, Rivera will be the one who helped give them the job.
Rivera’s resume provides a stark contrast to the Redskins recent history. Rivera amassed a record of 76-63-1 as the Panthers head coach from 2011 to 2019. He won Coach of the Year twice, made the playoffs four times, and reached the Super Bowl in 2015, with a squad that went 15-1 during the regular season.
If Rivera isn’t a proven winner, he’s only a tier below. But when juxtaposed with the Redskins organization, one must not assume that Rivera is perfect. Rivera has a 12-16 record over the past two years, and he’s markedly not a proponent of analytics, a tool that weaponizes information for the league’s most innovative minds, and dooms those who fail to self-scout and adapt. Rivera’s eagerness to mine from a Panthers coaching staff which was ousted by analytically-inclined owner David Tepper is also suspect.
Rivera isn’t perfect, but he’s perhaps a perfect fit for what the Redskins need. After the Jay Gruden years, and after the Redskins 3-13 2019 season, Washington doesn’t need a Super Bowl title in 2020. Washington needs a change. A reset. And for his flaws, few coaches are better than Rivera for this role.
Rivera notably led the Panthers to three straight NFC South titles just two years after taking control of a 2-14 squad. He emphasizes a player-oriented culture as a coach, something the Redskins need after their culture was rotten to its core by a Bruce Allen-led front office that reeked of drama and deceit, and a Jay Gruden-led coaching staff that lacked of discipline.
Rivera champions strong discipline and culture in his coaching philosophy, and he understands the delicate balance of family values and tough love, mediums which can strengthen an NFL culture and groom it for adversity.
The Redskins, after their extinction event, need to lay down a new foundation, and Ron Rivera is the right coach for such a task. But even with Rivera’s sturdy track record, there is uncertainty. Because for all the change that can occur at the turn of a decade, there is always a lone constant, which can clash with change, and ultimately undo it.