Firing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio only delays the inevitable where Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is concerned.
After such an embarrassing loss on national television at the Dallas Cowboys, one sensed changes would soon follow. Many thought Josh Harris' ownership group might pull the plug on Ron Rivera in-season, but the head coach played his last card by firing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer instead.
These were the two sacrificial lambs that could ensure Rivera sees out the season. That seems to be the general consensus among the national media, although most conceded it's a fluid situation that could change if the Washington Commanders get blown out at home to the Miami Dolphins before the bye week.
Commanders HC Ron Rivera has no more cards to play
Del Rio can have no real complaints. He'll see himself as a scapegoat of sorts, but Washington's once-vaunted defense has been a shell of its former self even before Montez Sweat and Chase Young were traded before the deadline.
When asked about the firings, Rivera acknowledged via SB Nation that things hadn't gone according to plan despite the supposed talent at the Commanders' disposal. Del Rio and Vieselmeyer bore the brunt of these failings, but the respected coach highlighted the need for everyone to up their contributions over the final five fixtures of 2023.
"It’s not an indictment on Jack and Brent because those guys worked their butt’s off trying to get things right and trying to do things for us. It’s just, for whatever reason, it wasn’t coming together. We haven’t played as well as we would like to this season. We haven’t played the complementary football the way we needed to as a team. And unfortunately, this is the circumstances. I mean, we’re all culpable. Believe me, we all are, coaches and players as a group. We have to be better. We know that. I think shaking it up now gives us an opportunity to do some things differently and play some guys differently and see what’s going on and see if we can do things to make some things happen, in a positive sense."- Ron Rivera via SB Nation
This is Rivera's last roll of the proverbial dice. However, it only delays the inevitable regarding his own future with the franchise.
Harris and his team of wealthy investors have already set about putting their plans in place. Hiring Eugene Sen, trading Young and Sweat, and approving the dismissal of Del Rio is just the start of what promises to be a fascinating few months for all involved.
Expecting a miracle cure at this stage is unrealistic. Coaching changes don't alter the fact these players are seriously underperforming despite holding lofty expectations before the campaign, with effort and morale sorely missing as they downed tools on Thanksgiving in Dallas.
In truth, anything Rivera accomplished from here on out is moot. The Commanders are quickly heading to their fourth-straight losing season under his leadership - that's without taking into account the suspect veteran acquisitions, failed trades, and suspect draft classes during an indifferent tenure.
Rivera deserves credit for stabilizing the Commanders at a time when the entire organization was in shambles. That was sorely needed at the time, but something else is required now.
Relieving Del Rio of his duties doesn't change that fact…