Last week, Ron Rivera decided to go for it on a risky fourth down against the Eagles. His offense converted, and the coach was widely praised for the call.
On Sunday in Arizona, Rivera faced another fourth down — albeit under very different circumstances — and chose to not go for it. And he'll likely take some heat in the coming days for that move.
Before getting to his postgame explanation on what he was thinking in Week 2, let's describe the situation.
Down 20-0 in the third quarter at State Farm Stadium, the Washington Football Team advanced the ball from their own 43-yard line down to the home side's 6. After Dwayne Haskins missed Logan Thomas for a score, the offense faced a fourth-and-goal with a little more than three minutes remaining.
Rivera opted to send Dustin Hopkins out for a field goal, and when Hopkins made the kick, the score became 20-3. They were down three scores before that snap, and they were down three scores after it.
So, why not keep the offense out on the field and attempt to break into the end zone and cut more into the Cardinals' lead? Rivera was honest.
"I was considering it, but based on certain circumstances, I wanted to put points up," Rivera told the media. "I wanted to give our guys something to have a little enthusiasm about. That's why I elected to take the points."
To Rivera, in that moment, having the offense feel like they accomplished something — even if that something was just one short field goal in the second half of a one-sided meeting — was worth more to him than trying to pull off a very difficult comeback.
Essentially, it was a long-term decision for Rivera as he looks to improve this franchise. Yes, skeptics will wonder why he didn't push more for the win in Week 2, but Rivera isn't completely concerned with just Week 2. He's focused on a much larger picture.
"At that point we were shut out," Rivera said. "And that's the one thing I don't want these guys to have to feel, that they were shut out."
You may disagree with that philosophy. Plenty will. However, at least Rivera has a clear plan in place and could justify the path he took. With this organization, plans and justification haven't always existed.