Football Team

Ron Rivera finds reaction to Week 15 postponement 'kind of silly'

Football Team

Ron Rivera, who coached for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2003, is well aware of how passionate the franchise's fan base is and wouldn't be surprised if it isn't too warm with its welcome Tuesday when the Washington Football Team arrives at Lincoln Financial Field.

After all, the city already hates Rivera's squad, and that fervor should pair nicely with the additional anger that's come from the NFL's decision to postpone the Week 15 matchup, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, in order to give Washington more time to recover from its COVID-19 outbreak. 

But as Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay in a one-on-one interview on Monday morning, he doesn't totally get the outrage over the timing adjustment.

"The only thing I can say about this, more so than anything else, is we did this last year," Rivera explained. "We went through the same situation. To not expect the games to be pushed back was kind of silly, just because of the fact that — in order to get the games done, in order to get the games played and really have serviceable teams, competitive teams on the field — you had to do that.

"We were one of the teams that were impacted, we had to push a game back... That's football."

The "same situation" that Rivera is referencing relates to how Washington's contest with the Steelers in 2020 was delayed after a Pittsburgh-Baltimore showdown was also delayed thanks to an outbreak among Ravens players. In that instance, Rivera's side was a bystander that had its plans altered, much like the Eagles this time around.

 

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By the way, it's not like Rivera's roster will be completely intact after the change. A few hours after Rivera's interview, it was reported that Brandon Scherff is landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list

Regardless, while those who are opposed to this particular postponement have acted very caught off guard by the news, Rivera sees this as the kind of thing that the league was bracing for back in the summer.

"In the memo that was sent out during training camp, they basically said that if you have an outbreak and the outbreak is one of those that was caused by guys that had gotten their vaccine, they would try to accommodate," Rivera said to Finlay. "So, everybody should've been prepared for that to happen."

The Omicron variant has also complicated matters, of course, and Rivera seems to believe that Omicron might've infiltrated Washington's building due to how "quickly it spread" among the organization.

The hope is that the team will eventually get that answer, but in the meantime, the coach can only wonder about the outbreak's beginnings.

"We're still trying to figure how it happened," he said. "Who did it start with? Did it start because we played out west [in Las Vegas] and came back or did it start back on Thanksgiving and all the holiday travel? How innocent was it? You just don't know."

Now, one development Rivera does have a better grasp on is the positively-trending numbers of quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, who are both in COVID protocols but could potentially test out of them before kickoff on Tuesday. 

However, should Heinicke and Allen remain sidelined, the recently-signed Garrett Gilbert did at least get a couple of more practices under his belt this past weekend, giving the offense a slightly better feel for his presence and his strengths. 

Therefore, Rivera is a bit more confident in that specific position as a whole, despite still not knowing who'll actually be his starter in Philadelphia. 

"Whatever we have to do, we'll do and the players will be behind — no matter who's out there — I think they'll be behind him," Rivera said. "I like where we are mentally, I like the makeup of our football team right now."