After being the last person Kyler Murray juked on both of his touchdown scampers in Arizona, as well as letting Andy Isabella run behind him for a 54-yard completion, Troy Apke has found himself in the crosshairs of criticism.
Many outsiders who care about the Washington Football Team are already calling for someone else to take over Apke's starting safety spot because of his poor start to the 2020 season. Apke's stock was at a high just a few weeks ago thanks to what he showed in training camp, but that is no longer the case at all.
On Wednesday, Ron Rivera admitted that No. 30 is in an early slump. He's not a person who'll claim a member of his roster is producing when folks know he's not, so he wasn't going to lie when he was asked about Apke.
However, Rivera voiced support for the third-year pro, too, even as the negative reviews of his performance pile up.
"He didn't play as well as he was capable of," he said. "But I will tell you this much: he didn't play as bad as people think he did. There were a couple of plays that happened that thank goodness Troy was there to make the tackle."
In a presser that preceded the one where the above remarks came from, Rivera mentioned two guys by name that he felt were especially hurt by the elimination of preseason. Those two names belonged to Dwayne Haskins and Apke.
The defensive staff has "put a lot on" Apke's shoulders, Rivera explained Monday. Their original plans might've been too ambitious for the 25-year-old who essentially missed his entire rookie campaign, was mostly a special-teamer in 2019 and didn't have any summer exhibitions to tune up his tackling, coverage, angles and other necessary skills to contribute in the back end.
Heading into this Sunday's matchup with the Browns, Rivera was firm that he and his other coaches will all be dead set on putting their players in positions where they can most thrive. If they have to simplify calls, they will. If they need to go in a different direction from where they've gone thus far, they will.
Perhaps that'll help Apke, who hasn't been nearly as physical as he was in camp and who has only really stood out for the wrong reasons.
It appears that Rivera will continue to give Apke the opportunity to get comfortable and start alongside Landon Collins — for the time being. Washington's leader is approaching all kinds of situations with patience, but he also said Wednesday he won't be afraid to make a lineup change if needed.
There's certainly an interest in aiding Apke so he can reach his full capability. There's no doubt that Apke's going to have to do the majority of the work, though, or Rivera will be forced to eventually bench him instead of back him.