Like many things with Ron Rivera at the helm, there is no confusion about who runs the Washington Football Team’s challenge flag.
“I’ve got the flag," Rivera said Monday. "I’ll listen to what the coaches say. If anybody’s adamant about what they think, then I’ll throw the flag and it’s on me because it’s my decision to throw it. I’ll stand by that." Washington’s head coach talked about replays after a Week 1 win over the Eagles in which the Burgundy and Gold did not throw a single challenge flag. Against Philadelphia, there weren’t a ton of close calls that demanded a challenge although one second half Carson Wentz pass looked like a potential incompletion but was ruled good on the field.
"I was right there when the play happened. It happened right in front of me. I said to the referee immediately, I said: ‘So you’re not going to call that incomplete?’ And he said, ‘No, Coach, I didn’t think the ground caused him to catch the ball.’
I said ‘OK.’ That’s why I didn’t throw the flag. It was almost immediate because I was right next to him when it happened," Rivera explained.
Rivera's accountability and authority should come as no surprise for Washington fans that have paid attention since he took over the job in January, but it sure comes as a breath of fresh air compared to last year.
The 2019 season in Washington was an abject disaster across the board, but one odd storyline emerged when team president Bruce Allen asserted himself in the team's in-game challenges.
That was weird, and while it was not true that Allen held final say on challenge flags, it's weird for a front office executive to be involved in that level of in-game minutiae in any capacity.
It also doesn't help that Jay Gruden won just 12 of 27 challenge flags during his five-plus years as former Washington coach.
In nine seasons in Carolina, Rivera won 28 of 58 challenges, a modest improvement over Gruden over a longer span.