Redskins

Redskins

The list of reasons Redskins fans are eagerly anticipating the Ron Rivera era is about as long as a CVS receipt at this point. And those things are long.

He's established, having won Coach of the Year twice and reaching the Super Bowl once. He's very well-respected by seemingly everyone. He's a defensive mind taking over a roster that appears stocked with defensive talent. He's been given a ton of power. He doesn't have to work with Bruce Allen.

That's just a sampling of items that have led to a sudden and complete attitude change from those who talk about and follow the Burgundy and Gold. Yet there's another variable, and one that's fairly simple, that could prove to be massive.

This will be Rivera's second head coaching stint.

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There's nothing fancy about that fact at all. But look around at today's NFL, as well as recent history, and there are some strong examples of guys improving and growing in their next go-round in charge.

Take the man who just won the Super Bowl, for instance. Andy Reid led the Eagles for 14 seasons, and some of those seasons reached some very deep stages of the playoffs. But Reid's reign with the Chiefs has been even more consistent than his time in Philly, and he just claimed his first title.

 

The greatest leader in the sport, meanwhile, was once someone who posted four losing years out of five in Cleveland. But Bill Belichick got another chance with the Patriots and, well, he's running out of fingers for his championship rings.

Pete Carroll has built the Seahawks into a January constant, and that's after stumbling twice before as a pro coach. Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls with the Giants after helping get the Jaguars off the ground. Gary Kubiak hoisted the trophy with the Broncos after a handful of seasons with the Texans.

The hope with Rivera is that, after his long stretch in Carolina, he's ready to bring what worked with him there to Washington and abandon what didn't.

Now, doubters can ask why Rivera's tenure with the Panthers ended on such a poor note. Why he didn't merely use what he had learned to save that organization? That's fairly valid.

But sometimes, that's difficult to do in a place where one's been for so long. Whatever mistakes Rivera was making in, say, his second year with the Panthers may not have revealed themselves to be problematic until much later, when they were already embedded in the franchise's operations. Or perhaps he never had a chance to notice them at all. 

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With the Redskins, he's starting totally fresh and from the bottom up. He's aware of what's effective and what's not. If he's able to have success in this part of his career, that experience and application of his past will certainly matter.

Of course, not every coach sees positive results after their first taste of the sidelines.

Washington supporters are clearly aware of how Mike Shanahan fared alongside Dan Snyder, and Ashburn was Shanahan's third stop. Rex Ryan disappointed in Buffalo after reaching a couple of AFC Championship games in New York, while Rivera's new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was only fine at the helm of the Raiders after his run in Jacksonville.

In fact, there can be a stigma regarding second-chance coaches, which showed up when the Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy. Overall, it's definitely not a surefire indicator of future wins.

Don't overlook this part of the Rivera equation, though.

Yes, other keys, like securing an answer at quarterback and being granted the patience he so badly wants, will obviously go a long way in determining if the optimism about his hire ultimately is validated.

Yet the philosophies he's picked up, the numerous games he's already won and lost and the wide range of things he's previously faced will also be on his mind every single day he's on the job, factoring into every decision he makes. And because of that, every decision he makes should be better.

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