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
5 of 6

Jack Del Rio - Commanders DC (fired)

I won’t belabor this.

Former Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio turned a unit with six first-round draft picks into the worst defense in the entire league. Linebackers and defensive backs were routinely confused and out of position. The defense never lived up to its draft pedigree. He was appropriately fired during the season.


Washington’s other coordinator in 2023 handled special teams.

Nate Kaczor - Commanders ST coordinator

If I made a mistake in undervaluing the position coaching changes coming into this season, I also made a mistake in failing to consider how the loss of Cam Sims, Armani Rogers, Shaka Toney, Jon Bostic, and Milo Eifler may have affected the Washington Commanders. These were all core special teamers a year ago.

Coupled with the loss of All-Pro Jeremy Reaves, Darrick Forrest, and Efe Obada to injuries, this seriously depleted the Commanders' special teams. Still, it is Nate Kaczor’s job to cobble together a serviceable unit from various spare parts. For much of his career, he has been able to do that.

Along with Randy Jordan, Kazcor is one of two coaches Ron Rivera kept on staff in 2020. His special teams have never been stellar, but they have generally been decent. Last year, with the emergence of Reaves and a typically strong effort from Tress Way, the unit seemed headed in a good direction.

But like the season as a whole, Kaczor’s unit fell apart, playing one of the worst games I have ever seen from a Washington special teams unit against the New York Jets in Week 16.


Kaczur was assisted by Ben Jacobs, who has been serving under him since he came to Washington in 2020.

Finally, we come to…