Ron Rivera spoke to roughly 130 people on Zoom last week — including players, other coaches and support staff — in what was his first truly team-wide meeting with the Redskins.
Rivera's goal that day was to establish the kind of culture he's aiming to build in Washington, and while he clearly would've preferred to lay that foundation in person, he still hoped everyone came away from the meeting with a solid idea of his vision.
Well, according to Tress Way and Nick Sundberg, the coach accomplished that — and much more.
"I think I ran downstairs and I might’ve tackled my son Beau at two years old," Way told the Redskins Talk podcast during a long interview that also featured Sundberg. "It was like six or seven minutes and it was just intense."
Rivera's voice, Way explained, never became too loud as he addressed multiple levels of the organization. What he lacked in volume, however, he made up for with his message and the conviction he delivered it with, stressing to those in the conference that the Redskins would control their attitude, preparation and effort as long as he was leading the franchise.
"Now everybody knows the standard that is set," Way said. "And I’m telling you, in and out, this dude went through a few slides, there was no ifs, ands or buts. There was no confusion. You could not have misunderstood."
Sundberg agreed with Way's assessment.
"That is exactly how he comes across in person, too," the longest-tenured Redskin said. "Super nice guy, easy to talk to, you can sit and tell stories and laugh and that sort of thing. But when it comes to talking shop, he’s honest and I appreciate that about him. I want to know exactly what you’re looking for from me and how you want me to do it. If I can’t do it, that’s on me. But at least give me the opportunity to tell me every single thing that’s expected of me."
Rivera will be Sundberg's third full-time coach with the Burgundy and Gold, following Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden. Because the long snapper didn't leave the area until February, he had the chance to interact with Rivera face-to-face in the building. Those run-ins, as well as what Sundberg's seen online, have invigorated him.
"Any time you get new leadership," Sundberg said, "it should motivate you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Was I a part of the problem or am I part of the solution?’"
In this virtual offseason, the two experienced specialists have actually found themselves acting like rookies at times. While both typically get to every team function early, they're making sure to really stay on top of that now. Way is even doing what he can to spruce up how he looks in front of his laptop.
"Five minutes before that meeting was supposed to start, I logged on, made sure my lighting was good, made sure there was not anything going down on this side," he said.
"He definitely gets that out of people," Sundberg added. "They want to make sure everything is perfect because they don’t want to come off the wrong way."
Rivera's job with the Redskins is going to be a demanding one. Washington is starting this decade on the heels of one of its worst ever, and he's being trusted to right the entire operation.
Judging by these reviews, though, he's already pulled off one extremely challenging task, and that's holding a smooth Zoom meeting where what was supposed to be communicated was successfully communicated. If he can do that, then the whole winning football games thing should be a breeze.
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