Commanders

Washington will get a better, more involved Ron Rivera in 2021

Commanders

There were instances last year when Ron Rivera couldn't even find a moment to do a simple task like review his team's practice tape. 

Because of how Washington's front office was set up — no one held the general manager title and Kyle Smith, the closest thing to a GM, didn't have the experience or knowledge to handle many of the duties typically assigned to that figure — Rivera was forced to take on extra responsibility. 

So, after his players wrapped up a session at the franchise's Ashburn facility, Rivera would knock out his press conference, grab a quick meal and then set up in his office to review the on-field action — and then he'd immediately be pulled away to check off other boxes.

"[Senior VP of Football Administration] Rob [Rogers] would have to come in and say, ‘Hey Coach, we have to take a look at this; Hey Coach, can we go through this; Hey Coach, let’s go through the roster; Hey Coach, we’ve got to go through who the inactives are going to be," Rivera explained Wednesday. "All of a sudden, I’m in the middle of trying to watch the team, but now I’m trying to do the other parts of it that are for the team."

Download and subscribe to the Washington Football Talk Podcast

 

Fortunately, thanks to the hirings of Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney, those types of hiccups shouldn't affect Rivera any longer. Mayhew, Washington's new GM, and Hurney, who is stepping in as the executive VP of football/player personnel, can oversee the things that Rivera had to oversee last year and therefore free him up to — get this — coach.

He sounds quite relieved about that development.

"What we needed to do was bring an extra set of eyes in," Rivera told reporters. "As I said, to my benefit, to this organization’s benefit, we were able to get two extra sets of eyes, two very experienced guys in the league, so that was really the genesis of this entire situation to me."

Don't get it confused, though; Rivera still has the power. That's what was promised to him when he accepted the job last winter and that's how it'll continue to be even with the additions of Mayhew and Hurney. The three of them will collaborate, yes, but Rivera will maintain control.

Yet now, there'll be a better balance in his day-to-day schedule. Instead of needing to hit "stop" on the film so he can work with Rogers on something like a practice squad transaction, Rivera can rely on others for those areas. 

With his newfound time, he expects to interact more with his coordinators and be around his players the way he initially envisioned. 

In an interview with JP Finlay and the Washington Football Talk podcast, Rivera revealed how much that's going to mean to him.

"It was very difficult for me to, daily, feel like, 'God, I didn't get a chance to do that. I didn't give them the best of me,'" he admitted. "That was a hard thing for me to swallow and accept."

The other obvious difference between his debut campaign and the one that's upcoming is that Rivera will be healthy. The constant cancer treatments he had to undergo wore him down to the point where he had to take multiple naps a day and leave the building hours earlier than he preferred to. With the disease behind him, he can return to his usual, all-in self.

That 2020 NFC East title, even if it came on a 7-9 record, becomes much shinier once you combine the fact that Rivera led Washington to it while battling cancer and dealing with minutiae that most of his peers would never come close to touching. With both of those hindrances in the past, Rivera's beyond optimistic about the future. 

"I just think I can do a better job," he said to Finlay. "I really do.'