Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode seven, "Vicious Cycle."
When Ron Rivera and the Redskins signed Thomas Davis earlier this month, they no doubt did it in part because they believe he can help their defense. While some doubt how much of a difference Davis will be able to make — he did just turn 37, after all — he still is easily the team's most established linebacker and did play all 16 games for the Chargers in 2019.
The signing, however, isn't just for what the veteran can do for three hours on the field every weekend, and that's a crucial part of his acquisition that some of its skeptics are missing. And in episode seven of Amazon's Panthers-focused edition of All Or Nothing, Redskins fans get the chance to see what Davis can provide outside of game day.
In this chapter of the series, Carolina is hurting. They're in the middle of a losing streak that's costing them their postseason spot, and the defense's decline is the biggest reason for that.
So, during a midweek meeting for that side of the ball, Rivera steps in and tries to send the group a message.
"No accountability," the coach says. "That’s something that’s missing on this defensive unit that used to happen. Used to happen a lot more than it is now."
"What did I always used to tell you about defense, Thomas?" he then asks his longtime stalwart. "It’s hard! The hardest thing to do in the NFL is play defense and they’re making it harder on you guys now. So the only way you can get better is to accept that it’s hard and then work at being comfortable when you’re un-(expletive)-comfortable."
"If you don’t accept that opportunity, if you don’t take advantage of that opportunity, then shame on you," Rivera finishes before walking out of the room.
At that point, the guys prepare to leave. That's when Davis stands up and addresses them, too.
"Listen, man, why does it even take that?" he says. "Why does it even take that? Why does the (expletive) head coach gotta come stand up in our (expletive) defensive meeting room? It’s pretty obvious, man, that some of us just don’t (expletive) get it. You don’t understand."
"We’re sitting comfortable in these (expletive) seats right now," Davis continues. "But if (expletive) keeps going like this on this side of the ball, this (expletive) room’s going to look totally different. If you’re a competitor and it means something to you, this (expletive) should hurt you to your core. Let’s approach this (expletive) like we’re supposed to."
Every NFL coach has to make statements like Rivera made multiple times a season. Inevitably, a few of those statements won't quite hit like others, which is why having a player who is on the same page and who can deliver them as well is incredibly beneficial.
That's precisely what Davis did there for Rivera. That's also precisely why bringing Davis in was a priority for Rivera.
Washington's new leader imported a coordinator, position coaches, a trainer and a cap analyst from Carolina, citing how vital it was for him to be surrounded by people he's comfortable with and who understand his values.
While the Scott Turners and Pete Hoeners and Ryan Vermillions will no doubt make Rivera's transition easier, they could've only helped the players so much in their own transition to Rivera. That's where Davis will now fit in and be so key.
At times, that'll look like it did in All Or Nothing, where he echoes the coach's words. It can go the other way, too, where he'll able to communicate something from those on the roster to the man in charge of it. Overall, it should lead to a more cohesive operation.
Yes, it'll be on Davis to contribute with his on-field performance. That's what matters most in the NFL, like any other sport. But just know that his presence will impact the Redskins in lots of other ways in 2020 — and that impact could last far longer than his individual tenure with the organization.
Links to past reviews:
Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits
Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions
Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron
Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020
Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it
Episode 6: Watch this example of the coach's integrity