Ron Rivera lambasted ahead of critical season for Commanders head coach
By Dean Jones
A recent NFL head coaching rankings didn't hold back on Ron Rivera ahead of a crucial campaign for the experienced figure and the Washington Commanders in 2023.
It doesn't take a genius to determine that Ron Rivera's situation with the Washington Commanders is sitting on the precarious side. The head coach is about to embark on his fourth season at the helm with little in the way of on-field success to show for his efforts, so the pressure would have been on even if the franchise wasn't changing ownership before the campaign.
Everything seems to be going well regarding the $6.05 billion sale, which should come to a formal vote among other NFL owners this summer. Once the transaction officially gets the green light, Rivera's set becomes the league's hottest in the blink of an eye.
This is something the respected coach is aware of. Rivera's tried not to let distractions get in the way of progress this offseason, even if the constant questions and rumors are less than ideal given the magnitude of the task awaiting Washington in 2023.
They weren't far away from making the playoffs last season, which is encouraging. Had some games been managed better and the Commanders' gamble to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz paid off, then it's a different story.
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera slammed lack of success
Rivera's fortunes came in for some scathing criticism recently via Patrick Daugherty from NBC Sports Edge in his annual preseason head coach rankings. After dropping him from No. 17 to No. 25 compared to last year, the writer lambasted his inability to successfully develop quarterbacks and accumulate any sort of consistent results throughout his career to date.
"In 12 years as an NFL head coach, Ron Rivera has won 5-8 games nine times. All three of the exceptions featured Cam Newton at quarterback. He's won a playoff game in 2-of-12 seasons. The mediocrity has been accompanied by a “bad quarterback” alibi in Washington, but anyone who has only three winning campaigns in nine Newton seasons probably isn't doing it right. With either Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett under center for 2023, Rivera isn't about to unlock another level to his game."- Patrick Daugherty, NBC Sports Edge
Although it might seem a little harsh, the evidence is all there. Perhaps it's his defensive background, or perhaps it's his stubborn approach to recruitment and development, but if there was ever a time for Rivera to alter his way of thinking, it's now.
Daugherty added that the Commanders seemed attached to Rivera's fading leadership - at least from the outside looking in. But if things don't progress considerably with Harris' ownership group watching intently next season, this will be his last on the Washington sidelines.
"The Commanders remain committed to his leadership all the same. That is an area where Rivera excels, but even that began to founder in 2022 as he seemed driven to madness by Carson Wentz. By the end of the season, Rivera didn't even know what it took for the Commanders to make the playoffs. Although seemingly a Hall-of-Fame person, Rivera is anachronistic coach who won't be there by the time Washington finally takes the next step."- Patrick Daugherty, NBC Sports Edge
Rivera knows what comes next if Harris and his team aren't on the same wavelength. He was fired by the Carolina Panthers after getting plenty of leeway from David Tepper once he purchased the franchise for a then-record $2.2 billion, so it's hard to look at his prospects in Washington with anything other than pessimism until proven otherwise.
Whether Rivera would get another head coaching opportunity if things go south with the Commanders is anyone's guess. But in all honesty - after all the man's fought through on the health front - he might not want one.
Time will tell.