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
4 of 6

Richard Rodgers - Commanders safeties coach

Richard Rodgers was the other assistant who was elevated after the departure of Chris Harris. He took over coaching the safeties and was also named senior defensive assistant. The promotion was deserved.

Rodgers has presided over the lone bright spot on this year’s defense. He had been instrumental in helping develop two Day 3 draft picks - Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest - into a first-rate safety tandem.

Forrest’s injury early this season hurt the back end quite a bit. Percy Butler, who is better suited to playing near the line of scrimmage, struggled to assume his deep-end assignments. But he did improve with time and Curl was again consistent.

I also have to believe that Rodgers helped Quan Martin develop into Washington’s best rookie in 2023. He is the only defensive coach currently associated with the team who I would like to see return in 2024.


Christian Garcia was promoted after Brent Vieselmeyer’s dismissal and has served as the interim defensive backs coach over the past month. He came to Washington in 2021 as a defensive quality control coach and has been elevated in each of his seasons with the team.

I suspect he has a bright future in coaching, but will not attempt to evaluate him at this point. I suppose he gets an Incomplete.

Washington also has had Ryan Kerrigan (defensive line) and Vincent Rivera (linebackers) serving as assistants in 2023, along with Reggie Howard in charge of defensive quality control. They began the year under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.