With the Washington Commanders mired in a four-game losing streak, reporters asked hard-hitting questions during Ron Rivera’s Monday presser. Rivera was asked about his overused “it won’t happen overnight” excuse, but the head coach quickly became a prominent talking point on NFL Twitter after he attributed Washington lagging behind the rest of the NFC East to the quarterback position.
Before Rivera could elaborate, the national media caught wind of the quote and an already-agitated fan base was pushed over the edge.
Did Rivera just completely throw Carson Wentz under the bus? It’s not like Rivera to take accountability for his team’s performance, but to seemingly bury the quarterback he handpicked this offseason and has been very diligent when discussing gave folks a flashback to the end of Wentz’s Colts tenure when owner Jim Irsay pinned Indy’s late-season collapse on the player.
Rivera eventually clarified his comments, and we’ll get to that, but his initial “quarterback” response didn’t sit right with former QB Alex Smith, who has since retired from football and joined ESPN as a Monday Night Football analyst.
It’s not like the Commanders to get any mention during shows of this magnitude, but Rivera’s comments were simply that appreciable.
Alex Smith blasted Ron Rivera for blaming the Commanders’ current state of disarray on the quarterback position.
"“I’m not going to lie; I had a really hard time watching that,” Smith said. “When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it. I’m not here to defend Carson Wentz. He’s had a tumultuous career and ups and downs. But this is a defensive head coach that’s absolutely driving the bus over his quarterback.”“I just want to read some stats there for everybody, just to realize. Carson Wentz is fourth in the NFL in passing. The only guys ahead of him are Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Tom Brady. This is a defense that is 26th in the NFL in scoring, oh and they are also 28th in rushing offense. The blame has got to be spread around. This is a team sport. It is the ultimate team sport. How can a head coach stand up there in front of the media and utter one word, and it’s ‘quarterback’?”"
Smith is completely right here. Wentz has been far from perfect this season, but he’s far from Washington’s biggest problem. The biggest difference between the Commanders and the rest of the NFC East, who have a combined 13-2 record through five weeks, is coaching, ownership and player-personnel.
Most of that falls on Rivera, who later clarified that he has zero regrets about trading for Wentz and that the Commanders now need to build around the gunslinger.
That opened up another can of worms. Giants first-year head coach Brian Daboll has zero ties to Daniel Joes, who had his fifth-year option declined and the Cowboys have won four straight games with backup Cooper Rush presiding over the offense.
"“This is an opportunity,” Rivera said. “Now we have a guy that we think we have a chance to build around. We had a guy in [Ryan Fitzpatrick] and he gets hurt in the first quarter and a half into the season, so it was a little different. I just think right now we have a guy that’s really growing in what we’re doing. I thought [Sunday] was a good indicator of his potential for us in this and we’ll continue to work with it.”"
Wasn’t it last offseason that Rivera stressed the plan was to cultivate a strong roster and then add a quarterback when the opportunity presented itself? Now they suddenly need to build around Wentz?
Do Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and JD McKissic not qualify as building around a QB? What about drafting Sam Cosmi in the second round of the 2021 draft, extending left tackle Charles Leno and extending center Chase Roullier?
Say what you will about Washington’s guard play (it’s been dreadful), but Rivera just continues to move the goal posts for himself.
What more can you say? Commanders fans have long taken issue with Rivera’s lack of accountability, but the head coach reached a new low on Monday. He had better hope the Commanders beat the Bears Thursday night because quotes like this don’t typically end well for coaches if their team keeps losing.