Commanders 2023 coaching grades: Ron Rivera, defense and special teams

It's time to focus on defense, special teams and Ron Rivera...

Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Steve Russ - Commanders LBs coach

On the one hand, the evaluation of Steve Russ is fairly simple. He has been the Washington Commanders linebackers coach for four years, and the unit’s play has gotten worse and worse over that time. In 2023, they performed very poorly.

On the other hand, no position coach may be more layered than Russ, serving under a head coach who was a linebacker and, until recently, under a defensive coordinator who was also a linebacker. That makes it very difficult to know exactly how much he has been responsible for.

Former first-round pick Jamin Davis did improve somewhat in 2023, but he still ran himself out of too many plays and was a liability in pass coverage. Free agent signing Cody Barton looked lost for most of the season. It would be surprising if the Commanders' new regime gave him another deal.

Khaleke Hudson has shown a few glimmers, especially in the final game of the year, but no young linebackers have been very consistent. From the outside, it is difficult to see anything that Russ has done to make things better. Not just this season, but over his time in the job overall.

GRADE D