Technically, Ron Rivera did say the word "playoffs" in his Monday interview with NBC Sports Washington. But when JP Finlay brought that up to him, Rivera scoffed.
"I didn't mention it about us," Rivera said. "I just mentioned in general."
Technicalities aside, that topic is one that'll likely involve Washington for at least a few more weeks, if not the rest of the 2020 season. At 4-7, the Burgundy and Gold should remain relevant in the NFC East standings all the way through December.
So, after Rivera and Finlay settled their back-and-forth, Finlay asked the coach if he's closely tracking what's going on in the division right now. Rivera countered by insisting he's not currently tracking it at all.
"No," he said. "You have to take care of your business. You have to play your game. If you don't win, it doesn't matter."
"Now, maybe after that game, then you pay attention to what's happening to the other teams in your division," he went on to admit. "But right now, the focus has to be on what we do and how we do it going forward."
Earlier this year, when he made the switch at quarterback from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen, Rivera explained that decision was made largely because of how the NFC East was taking shape. Therefore, because he was so on top of his rivals' position then, it's reasonable to assume he still is today, no matter what he says in interviews.
However, Rivera's general approach is precisely the one that Washington has to take. Where the Giants are in the race or who the Eagles have next, for example, won't matter unless Rivera's roster remains relevant, too.
And in order to do just that, they'll have to navigate a difficult upcoming stretch that features the undefeated Steelers, recuperating 49ers and ever-explosive Seahawks. Rivera, as usual, is enticed by the challenge.
"These three teams will be measuring sticks for us," he said in his general presser on Monday. "In the AFC, Pittsburgh is the elite; San Francisco was elite last year and is finding its way back and Seattle is one of the elite right now."
Should Washington measure up well against those measuring sticks and then finish off strong against Carolina and in Philadelphia, there's a chance they can resume their schedule into mid-January. What they do, as well as what their close foes do, will determine that. According to Rivera, however, he's only worried about the former.