Steven Sims' Week 16 fumble on a punt return was very costly in the moment, as Carolina was able to recover the loose ball in the Burgundy and Gold's end zone for, essentially, a free six points.
It doesn't sound like the blunder will cost Sims his job on special teams, though.
On Thursday, Ron Rivera was asked for his thoughts on what Sims has done at the position. He didn't exactly rave, to be fair, but he also gave no indications that a change will be made for Washington's finale in Philly.
"Steven, for the most part, has been solid," he said. "This was really his first misstep. It’s unfortunate it came then.”
That right there feels like a coach covering for his player, because it wasn't Sims' first misstep (he also lost a fumble against the Cardinals in September and he's bobbled a few others that he ultimately retained) and he hasn't been solid, either (of the 14 players with at least 20 returns, he sports the third-worst average).
Rivera was quick when it came to explaining what he wanted to see from Sims versus the Panthers instead of what he ended up doing — "The truth of the matter is: catch the ball," he said — and also discussed how he wants Sims to call for a fair catch the next time he's in a similar situation. By not doing so in that sequence, he tried to drop his eyes to locate the oncoming tacklers just as the ball was coming down, which led to the error.
While some NFL squads have enough firepower to overcome a botch like that, Washington couldn't against Carolina. And another turnover from Sims at Lincoln Financial Field in their meeting with the Eagles could be enough to keep them from the postseason.
Perhaps if there were more games left on the schedule, Rivera would opt to pass the role to someone other than No. 15. It'll definitely need to be addressed in the offseason. For now, however, it appears that Rivera will allow Sims to remain where he is.
"I feel good about it," he said.
At least he does, because the majority of outsiders do not. Rightfully so, too.