Alex Smith and Ron Rivera can write a storybook ending to Washington Football Team’s season.
Before this season started, if you had told any fan of the Washington Football Team that they would have a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, they probably would’ve laughed in your face. After all, this team was supposed to go through a rebuild after going 2-14 in 2019. Ron Rivera wasn’t here to win right away. He was here to fix the team’s broken culture, but that was going to take time.
Instead, Washington is in control of the division and just needs to win to get into the playoffs. And if they can manage it, Rivera and Alex Smith will help to co-author a storybook ending for the Washington Football Team that will further establish a positive culture in the Washington locker room.
The narrative is certainly a compelling one, and it’s truly amazing that Rivera and Smith are the two people that could have such a massive impact on the team.
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Rivera battled cancer earlier in the season but coaching through it. While Rivera battled, it looked like the team was going to fall flat in his first year. Though Washington won the first game of the season, they endured a five-game losing streak and didn’t look very competitive. Dwayne Haskins was benched for Kyle Allen. The defense was giving up chunk plays. The offense wasn’t moving the ball. The team looked far off from being a playoff team.
However, Rivera and Jack Del Rio were able to develop the defense and turn them into an excellent unit with what is arguably the league’s best defensive line. Rivera has also weeded out problem spots for the team, including the now-released Haskins, and has done a great job making in-game adjustments.
Is there room for improvement? Sure. There’s a lot of it. But he has done a great job of building this team and helping them to improve as the season has gone along. He has pushed the right buttons and seems to have a good understanding of his team.
Of course, Rivera isn’t the only figure in this massive turnaround. After a 2-6 start to the season, Washington was suddenly sparked by Alex Smith rejoining the starting lineup. Smith had battled back and made the most improbable comeback in the history of sports after he suffered a brutal leg injury that nearly killed him, caused his leg to be amputated, and needed 17 surgeries to fix.
Smith wasn’t expected to play in 2020, and many assumed that despite his comeback, his career was over. But Smith made it back to the field, established himself as a starter, and posted a 4-1 record as a starter before going out with calf soreness in his surgically-repaired leg.
Smith’s stabilizing presence helped Washington string together a four-game win streak to get back into the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Yes, it’s a weak division that will be won by a team with a losing record, but still, this team wasn’t expected to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, and Smith and Rivera weren’t supposed to have a major hand in it during the 2020 season.
Because of Smith’s injury and Rivera’s illness, Washington wasn’t supposed to find a lot of success this year. This was supposed to be a year for them to figure things out at the quarterback position and for Rivera to instill his culture and focus on his health concerns.
Instead, Washington can write a storybook ending with Smith starting. He can earn the victory, and division title, and put a massive exclamation point on his already-unbelievable comeback. And Rivera can do the same and further prove that he was the right man for the job in Washington.
Soon, we’ll see if Washington can earn the win and reward these two veterans. If not, then the young team will be hungry to find success in 2021.