Football Team

Rivera quickly shoots down idea of major changes for WFT defense

Football Team

Ron Rivera answered the heap of questions about his defense, and whether he'd consider making a major change there, as firmly yet calmly as he could.

But after receiving what he felt was one too many inquiries on the topic during a Monday presser that came a day after his team's Week 5 loss to the Saints, Rivera showed that he had no interest in discussing the matter any further. 

"You guys really want to go there, don't you?" the coach asked the media contingent that was on the Zoom call with him. 

On more than a few occasions in his back and forth with reporters, Rivera explained that two plays — he didn't specify which ones, but Jameis Winston's easy 72-yard touchdown in the first quarter and the crushing Hail Mary at the conclusion of the second quarter sure seem like solid guesses — overshadowed what he believed was a pretty solid defensive outing at FedEx Field.

He understands ignoring that pair of plays is impossible, yet he also thinks there was tangible progress versus New Orleans from a unit that's getting torched both on and off the field on a weekly basis now.

"I thought we took some strides, I thought we did some positive things," Rivera said. "We did a couple of things that we needed to. Unfortunately, when it came time to do a couple other things, we didn't do them. We didn't execute it properly."

 

He's not totally wrong, either. Sunday's plan against the Saints included more five-man fronts, which helped produce more consistent quarterback pressure. Cole Holcomb and Chase Young generated turnovers, too, something that had been missing since the opener.

That very slight positivity disappeared when Rivera was asked about potentially getting more involved with Jack Del Rio's group, though.

The logic was sound, at least: Rivera's been a defensive coordinator in the past, so perhaps he'd like to assert himself when it comes to adjusting the scheme or calling certain plays?

To put it simply, he was displeased with the thought.

"Guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, I'm not going that way," he said, and yes, that's an accurate number of "guys" in that quote. "I like what we did."

Rivera eventually mentioned the 2020 campaign, one that featured similar early struggles from the Burgundy and Gold's defense before that part of the roster got hot down the stretch.

To him, that turnaround is influencing how he's presently handling 2021's problems.

"If you're constantly mixing and changing and moving and doing things, you never really find out," Rivera said. "If we had done anything drastically crazy last year, we did it after I felt it was time to do it. That's what we're going to do here. I don't see the issues the way you guys do."

Even with his backing of Del Rio and refusal to truly tweak the current approach, Rivera did acknowledge that a change could come in the future. 

"When certain things have to happen at the appropriate moment, when I feel like that it needs to be done, I'll do it," he said. "It's that simple."

With meetings with Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers on the slate for the next two weekends, that "appropriate moment" could be lurking sooner than Rivera would like to admit.