For the second straight week, Ron Rivera had the opportunity to extend the action at the end of a game and give his offense more clock to work with.
And for the second straight week, Ron Rivera declined that opportunity, choosing to value leaving the stadium with no more injuries over seeing his unit try to squeeze out more yards.
Rivera's management in the final minutes of Washington's losses in Arizona and Cleveland has angered a large portion of fans and analysts who follow the franchise. Those folks have accused him of giving up and have pointed to some miraculous early-season comebacks as reason why he should cherish every second in the NFL.
Fred Smoot is not one of those folks.
During an appearance on The Team 980's postgame show on Sunday, the former corner was very practical in his defense of Rivera's behavior against the Browns.
"What would he call the timeout for?" Smoot said. "We're bad."
Now with a 1-2 record, there's not much disputing Smoot's point. While Washington still mathematically had a chance late in the fourth quarter to beat both Arizona and Cleveland in Weeks 2 and 3, and that chance would've ticked up had Rivera been more aggressive in using his timeouts, it's not like the offense was humming in either matchup. The outcome was essentially a done deal in both instances.
The optics, however, still aren't that favorable. Rivera has emphasized competition often through the first 10 months of his tenure with the Burgundy and Gold, so why does he not follow through on that even when the odds are strongly against him?
That seems to be one of the main problems Rivera's detractors have with what he's done. Wanting to prevent injuries is an admirable goal, but perhaps it'd be worth taking that risk to instill an attitude that no deficit is too big.
Smoot, though, has total faith in the coach's approach.
"This year is for the build on what's going to be special in the future," he said. "He's looking at this thing as a future thing. He's not trying to get in here to go 8-8 just for the sake of going 8-8."