After a painstaking season of underachievement, Judgment Day looms for Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera.
Nobody is expecting Ron Rivera to get another season with the Washington Commanders. After a fourth-straight losing campaign, all signs point to Josh Harris' ownership group taking action as part of their ambitious plans for the future.
They'll still go through the typical meeting and firing process, one suspects. Doing it today - which just so happens to be Rivera's 62nd birthday - wouldn't be the best look for Harris. That was a sentiment echoed by Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero from the NFL Network, who revealed via sources with knowledge of the situation that the head coach's final judgment will arrive tomorrow - typically known in league circles as Black Monday.
"Washington is expected to part ways with [Ron] Rivera on Monday, per sources, ending his tenure after four seasons. The Commanders job is more attractive than it's been in decades, thanks to competent ownership, some building blocks on the roster, a potential top-three draft pick and extra draft capital to potentially package and target a new franchise QB. That could appeal to the most coveted candidates in this hiring cycle, such as Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who is expected to have multiple options."- Ian Rapoport & Tom Pelissero, NFL.com
Rivera's been around the game a long time. He was a successful player before rising through the coaching ranks. He's respected around the NFL and deserves credit for remaining dignified in difficult circumstances. He should also be fully aware of what comes next.
Commanders firing Ron Rivera is the only viable option
The results haven't been good enough. Washington's on-field product is poor. Morale in the locker room is low. Almost every position group needs a substantial overhaul. The Commanders still have questions about the quarterback position thanks in no small part to Sam Howell's regression over the second half of 2023.
It won't be an easy conversation for Harris. He clearly likes Rivera. The coach was a huge help to the ownership group during their transition. But this is the only viable option to take the Commanders forward.
Business is business. It's not like this exact scenario hasn't been experienced by Rivera before. He was canned by David Tepper once he took charge of the Carolina Panthers. Only this time, he was at least given the respect of seeing out the campaign.
One could debate whether the Commanders are in a better place thanks to Rivera. There isn't a great deal of quality across the roster. Washington has some foundational pieces to build around, but it's going to take a significant amount of work to get the playing side of things up to the required standard.
Harris isn't going to sit idly by while the Commanders languish among the league's also-rans. He wants to turn things around. He wants this storied franchise to become a force once again. The billionaire desires nothing but the highest standards on and off the field.
This starts by relieving Rivera of his duties. He won't be the only one, but it's the most symbolic statement of intent. One that officially signals the start of what should be a frantic and exciting offseason in equal measure.
Rivera can hold his head high. He tried valiantly to bring some respectability back to a sleeping giant. Unfortunately, he fell short of expectations.