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Cancer or not, Ron Rivera is ready to kick your butt

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Imagine the following sentence but with one letter different: Ron Rivera ain't mucking around. 

The new boss of the Washington Football Team did not have the luxury of a full offseason program to implement his culture change, so he's taking advantage now. Washington's held five padded practices in a weird, condensed training camp, and more than once Rivera has screamed at his team.

The loudest message came Saturday when Rivera challenged every player on his team to perform better, and to make that change fast. 

"We want to practice fast. We want up-tempo, so again it becomes second nature. It becomes habit," Rivera said Saturday. "Today wasn’t good enough. Today was not acceptable. If this is what’s going to happen, then we’re going to struggle. We can’t accept it. I can’t allow that to happen, so that’s why I voiced my feelings today with the players."

Since January Rivera has talked about changing the culture in Washington, and to any able-bodied resident of the DMV, it's obvious the culture needs changing. The team went 3-13 last year and off-field things are a mess. There's an ongoing sexual harassment investigation and infighting amid owner Dan Snyder and his minority investors. In short, it's sloppy, but Rivera might be able to fix the on-field product. 

"It’s night and day from what we experienced last year. Obviously with everything that took place this offseason as far as a change of offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, everyone pretty much got shipped out and with new faces in, you’re going to get a new personality as far as the Washington Football Team. So, they’re demanding a lot from us," veteran running back Adrian Peterson said on Sunday.  

 

One of Rivera's biggest points has been he needs his team to do exactly what he says - to the letter - and he will protect his players.

Peterson gets it, and whether they realize it or not, the quarterback should too.

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The passing has been uneven through training camp so far. It's not just Dwayne Haskins, but Kyle Allen and Alex Smith have made missteps too. 

Listen to Rivera, however, and not a bad word has come out about his passers. 

He talks about Haskins learning the offense and his growth as a leader. He talks about Smith working hard and overcoming the odds. He talks about Allen's ability to make plays off-schedule. And while he will point out that all of the passers have made mistakes, Rivera publicly says the good outweighs the bad. Whether he means it or not. 

Terrible news hit Ashburn last week when Rivera revealed to his team that he's got a fight against cancer coming. He plans to stay in charge, "business as usual" but Jack Del Rio will slide in if Rivera is forced to miss time. 

What's become obvious though is Rivera isn't slowing down. At all. Cancer or not. 

He's challenging his team. He's changing the culture. He's supporting his players as long as they buy into his system. 

Ron Rivera came to Washington to build a winner. Whether it's COVID or cancer, old habits or carelessness, he's not backing down.