Doc Rivers fate serves as stark warning to Commanders HC Ron Rivera
By Dean Jones
Doc Rivers' fate with the Philadelphia 76ers after a failed playoff bid should serve as a stark warning to Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera.
After the Philadelphia 76ers blew yet another playoff lead before capitulating in Game 7 at the Boston Celtics, there was always going to be a fall guy. With James Harden a pending free agent and Joel Embid seemingly untouchable, the ax fell on Doc Rivers.
Josh Harris is about to lead the ownership group that will take over the Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder in a record $6.05 billion deal. He is also the principal owner of the 76ers, who decided to remove Rivers from the equation after seemingly another season of underachievement.
While many saw this coming after Philadelphia risked it all for a ring, it should serve as a stark warning for Commanders head coach Ron Rivera. Anything less than progress and perhaps even a playoff berth next season would leave his long-term job security hanging in the balance.
Commanders sale puts Ron Rivera on the hot seat
Rivera's seat would have been lukewarm even if ownership wasn't changing hands. It's been a mixed bag of results overall since he took charge in 2020, even if the respected figure deserves credit for shifting the culture regarding recruitment and retention, which was sorely needed.
However, with Harris' group poised to take charge of the Commanders' way before the season, Rivera's seat is now scolding. When the time comes for sportsbooks to start taking bets, his name will be among the favorites to be fired first.
One thing Rivers' firing should tell Rivera is that Harris does not settle for mediocrity. He also isn't afraid to make the moves needed in pursuit of taking a franchise he owns forward.
All hope is not lost regarding Rivera and he remains steadfast in his belief that the process is working. One could also argue he's been working with one hand tied behind his back given the distractions and scandal Snyder brought to the Commanders.
That won't matter much to Harris and other investors. They want to see results and will have their own ideas on how to move things forward - something Rivera must also adhere to as part of his own vision for the future.
If there's a clash in ethos - which cannot be dismissed - then only one winner will emerge. And looking at the bigger picture, Washington's head coaching position goes from a poisoned chalice to an attractive destination from the moment the sale receives league approval.
Rivera has been around long enough to know things are precarious. There aren't many coaches throughout NFL history that go through this sort of thing twice, so this experience might serve him well in terms of preparing for meetings and remaining focused on the primary task at hand.
Harris and his group will be scrutinizing everything associated with the Commanders from top to bottom. Simply put, everyone must get on the same page and pull in the same direction in pursuit of getting this prestigious franchise out of irrelevancy and back to an industry leader.
There's a good chance Rivera gets a legitimate opportunity to prove himself next season. If the Commanders don't meet a specific set of targets implemented by Harris, then expect landmark changes.
One only has to examine the recent firing of Rivers to see that.