Former Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat painted the current locker room culture built by Ron Rivera in a damning light.
Ron Rivera has prided himself on restoring the culture. He was given a hefty task upon his appointment by the Washington Commanders in 2020 given the mess overseen by Dan Snyder. Taking on coaching duties and having the final say on personnel decisions was a significant ask for anybody - let alone someone who was coming off being fired by the Carolina Panthers.
Rivera's had to deal with an awful lot. But according to recently departed defensive end Montez Sweat, the culture within the organization is not what it seems right now.
Montez Sweat slams Commanders locker room culture
When speaking to reporters following the Chicago Bears' impressive win over the Detroit Lions, Sweat couldn't resist taking a dig at his old employers via USA Today Sports. Specifically, the locker room atmosphere of going through the motions rather than striving to make things better.
"Where I come from, it was kind of like just waiting on the season to end. But here it’s like, every week is a new challenge, and people want to play for the man beside him……..Coach ‘Flus is a great coach. He keeps us motivated. I’ve never seen a head coach run the team and call defensive plays, so that’s new for me. A lot of respect for him as a coach."- Montez Sweat via USA Today Sports
This was perhaps uncalled for. Even though it's entirely accurate based on how the Commanders 2023 campaign has unfolded up to now.
Players are lacking any real motivation. Their efforts are lackluster on the field. When speaking to reporters, there's almost always a demoralized tone with the Commanders navigating a fourth-straight losing season under Rivera.
While it's hard to stay focused, there needs to be a level of professionalism. Rivera is working hard to keep his players engaged. He is seeking their opinion on personal growth and trying to keep spirits high in whatever way he can. Unfortunately for the head coach, it's not having the desired effect.
Sweat could see it a mile away as one of the team's primary leaders before he was traded to the Bears for a second-round selection. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that others are seeing the same. This is a damning indictment of Rivera's tenure four years in.
It might have been an off-the-cuff remark from Sweat, no matter how unnecessary it seemed. However, the statement does nothing to diminish the notion that a complete shake-up is needed once the season concludes. Something which will spell the end of Rivera's spell with the organization.
Perceptions about Rivera's culture building from the outside looking are not the same as how players are viewing it from the inside looking out. Sweat pulling back the curtain only places a bigger microscope on what might be unfolding behind the scenes.
Everyone associated with the Commanders aside from the coaching staff is waiting with eager anticipation to see what comes next. Josh Harris' ownership group is gearing up to hit the reset button as part of their plans for a better future. It's not going to happen overnight, but it is undoubtedly coming.
Rivera doesn't need the attitude of his players coming under question with four games left. But in all honesty, his fate was sealed long before Sweat opened his mouth.