On Wednesday, Ron Rivera popped up on a Zoom call to deliver some opening remarks about the recently-promoted Jennifer King, who just became the first full-time Black, female coach in the NFL. King then proceeded to chat with reporters about her landmark accomplishment, one that Billie Jean King congratulated her on.
In his short time on camera, Rivera also briefly mentioned how he's been "busy the last couple of weeks” monitoring his entire staff, at which point he said that Washington re-signed "all" of its coaches. The focus for the afternoon then rightly shifted to King, yet that nugget shouldn't be completely skipped over, either.
Rivera first explained to the media on Jan. 10 that he didn't foresee any changes coming to the group he roamed the sideline with in 2020, but it was encouraging to hear him confirm that ahead of the King presser.
Hiring season has essentially wrapped up, and while teams like the Rams and the Colts saw multiple pieces depart for jobs elsewhere in the league, the Burgundy and Gold weren't forced to replace anyone over the past few weeks.
Before advancing another paragraph, there might be readers who laugh at the notion that keeping a bunch of people who helped produce a 7-9 record is some sort of key step, and that's fine. After all, franchises only poach opposing assistants and coordinators when they're at the forefront of a highly-successful operation, so it's not surprising that a sub-.500 staff hasn't been sifted through by other organizations.
However, those who are open to diving a little deeper before brushing off this story as nonsense (that wouldn’t be a first for this writer, by the way) will realize that the news is meaningful.
In Scott Turner and Jack Del Rio, Rivera possesses a growing decision-maker drawing up the offense and a proven leader devoted to getting the most out of the defense. Turner's second year as OC should only feature more growth and more creativity — as the schedule progressed, he truly settled in — and Del Rio's second time around as DC will provide him the chance to further imprint the mindset he wants his guys taking the field with, in addition to more opportunities to teach a scheme that carried early growing pains in 2020.
You can go beyond the big names, too.
DB developer Chris Harris, who interviewed for the Eagles' defensive coordinator gig, got a ton out of seventh-round safety Kam Curl as well as the previous and barely-used Jeremy Reaves. Having Harris return means that those youngsters will have a familiar voice as they attempt to solidify their breakthroughs.
On offense, Jim Hostler, who oversees the receivers, pushed Terry McLaurin to become a more versatile wideout, one who could handle slot duties as well as an outside role. McLaurin flourished in that capacity. Meanwhile, Cam Sims was finally able to transfer his training camp and practice highlights over to Sundays, a maturation Hostler surely sparked in part.
Then there's King and Randy Jordan, the pair responsible for the running backs. Like so much of Washington's roster, Antonio Gibson seriously blossomed down the stretch after, you know, not really lining up at the position in college. As for JD McKissic, well, all he did was catch 80 passes.
Keep on ticking them off.
Pete Hoener will be back to tutor Logan Thomas, John Matsko will continue to manage the offensive line and Sam Mills III can look to unlock the talents of Chase Young and Montez Sweat even more.
For the first time since 2015, Washington has a playoff appearance to attempt to build off of. Because of that, late January, a period that's typically spent waiting for the team to get rid of coaches and find new ones, has instead been about hoping everyone would stay.
Fortunately, that appears to have come to fruition — and the benefits of that will start to come to fruition later on in the offseason and, eventually, in Week 1 in September.