Could the Washington Commanders' late-season gauntlet force Josh Harris' ownership group into drastic action with head coach Ron Rivera?
Beating the Atlanta Falcons kept the wolves from Ron Rivera's door for another week. Pressure is undoubtedly mounting on the head coach thanks to Josh Harris' ownership group, who have their own ideas on how to take the Washington Commanders forward and are currently assessing everything associated with the franchise from top to bottom.
Rivera, as he's done from the outset, is focusing on what he can control rather than what comes next. That's the right mentality to have, but the NFL is a results business and that's what the figurehead will be judged on when push comes to shove.
It doesn't take a genius to determine Rivera's set is warm. He's failed to accumulate a winning season since becoming head coach despite winning one NFC East title, so the need for genuine progress is evident with a fresh set of eyes at the very top.
Commanders brutal end to 2023 has implications for Ron Rivera
When discussing this exact topic recently, Tyler Sullivan from CBS Sports listed Rivera as No. 4 in his head coaches on the hot seat rankings. The writer also highlighted a daunting run of games to finish the season as something that could ultimately determine his fate.
"Ron Rivera is playing under a new regime that merely adopted him rather than specifically chose him themselves. The Josh Harris-led ownership group has a lot on their plate to inject new life into the Commanders and a change across football operations wouldn't be surprising to see. Rivera has Washington at .500 at the moment, but the back half of the season does provide some cause for concern for the coach's prospects of keeping his job beyond this year. Over their final six games, the Commanders play the Cowboys twice, the 49ers, Dolphins, Rams (road) and Jets (road). Outside of the possibility of teams resting starters, Washington is probably an underdog in each of those games, setting up the possibility of a 0-5 run to end the year. Under that circumstance, Rivera won't have much momentum to keep his job for 2024."- Tyler Sullivan, CBS Sports
If the Commanders finish the campaign 0-5 as Sullivan stated, then landmark alterations to Washington's front office and coaching infrastructure will be all but confirmed. What comes after that could represent the start of an exciting future if the right appointments are made.
Rivera is a fighter. That's exactly what he's doing right now in a bid to turn this one-proud franchise around.
It wasn't easy having to work under so much distraction during previous owner Dan Snyder's final years. One could even argue he's done well in the circumstances, but that will count for nothing if the head coach cannot put enough positive results together to convince those in power he's worthy of getting another year.
Harris is a typically patient man when it comes to giving people opportunities in the sports franchise he owns. However, there are numerous others in the ownership group that might not be as accommodating.
Magic Johnson, in particular, is keen to build a winner quickly. He's also been critical of the team, which means the NBA legend's voice will be deafening if the Commanders cannot achieve a winning record or better from the current campaign.
That could mean playoffs or bust for Rivera. But at the same time, even that might not be enough.
Time will tell, I guess.