Ron Rivera and VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith spoke to the media three times during the NFL Draft, holding a Zoom press conference on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That in itself was notable for those who know the Redskins' recent history, even though it sounds mundane.
For much of the Bruce Allen era, Allen — then the highest-ranking member of the front office — rarely sat behind a microphone. Every once in a while, someone like Doug Williams or former VP of Football Operations Eric Schaffer would take questions after significant events, but for the most part, Jay Gruden was the guy who'd deal with reporters, on both good days and very, very bad ones.
So, having the chance to talk to both the head coach and the new most powerful person upstairs was refreshing and useful, with each of them providing thoughtful responses on things like the Trent Williams trade and why they made particular choices.
The most encouraging part, though, wasn't that they spoke; it was how they spoke. Together, they sounded incredibly united (despite only working closely for a couple of months), which forced many fans to experience something they aren't that familiar with: confidence.
Instead of further discussing Rivera and Smith's promising rhythm, however, it's better to just show you. So, here are three solid examples of Washington's two leaders being on the same page.
1) Rivera could've interfered with the Redskins' operation but didn't — at all
Rivera has changed a lot in the organization already, from the coordinators to the training staff to the near 15 veterans he added in March and the two notable ones he traded away. At times, it feels like the jersey colors are the only thing he hasn't altered in some way.
But one thing he opted to leave alone? How Smith ran the draft.
"When Coach Rivera came in, he wanted us to keep our process and keep everything that we’ve been doing from the last few years and just carry that on," Smith said Thursday after taking Chase Young.
A few days later, Rivera continued a habit he started the day he was introduced as the franchise's new boss, and that habit is complimenting how Smith drafts.
"I thought that the communication between Kyle and I as he was setting the final board was exactly what you look for because then, as you go through the process, you should see things quite close to one another," Rivera explained after the event had concluded.
Rivera has been hands-on with everything since January 1. The fact that he was so hands-off in this area is quite a statement.
2) They viewed the Williams trade the same way
The first topic presented to the pair just hours after they filled out a rookie class of eight players wasn't related to any of those eight players. Rather, the first question — then the second, then a later follow-up — dealt with the Williams move.
They each had a chance to address it, and their responses sounded like it came from the same person.
"One of the things that we talked about when I first got here was talk about a sustainable winning culture," Rivera said. "The whole idea about what we’re doing is we’re going to build this culture with the guys that want to be here, the guys that want to be a part of what we’re doing so we can go forward, and just feel good about where we are."
Smith later doubled down on that approach.
"Since Coach showed up here, we made it very clear that, as an organization, anybody that has a year left on their contract we’re going to wait and see how you mesh with the coaching staff," he said. "And I think that’s pretty fair, personally, that, out of respect for the player, let’s see how we jive, let’s see how we mesh before we extend somebody for four years or three years or whatever the case may be."
Rivera arrived in Washington with a reputation for wanting complete commitment from his locker room. Fortunately for him, Smith shares that style. That's why Williams as well as Quinton Dunbar are now in the NFC West instead of the NFC East.
3) They agreed not to force things when on the clock
Yes, the Redskins signed undrafted tight end Thaddeus Moss, but that's the extent of the additions they made to what sure seems like the weakest position on the roster.
In justifying that lack of reinforcements, Smith hinted at another way in which he and Rivera see eye-to-eye.
"We’re always going to have needs and positions of focus, but you don’t want to force it," he told reporters. "That’s when you start riding guys up the board and in my opinion, and in Coach’s opinion, you start making mistakes."
Having been here for years now, Smith is no doubt well aware of how badly this offense could use more production at tight end. And with the way Rivera studied the team before taking the job, he certainly knew, too.
The weekend came and went, though, and none of the Redskins' eight selections were a piece for that spot. Whether that turns out to be the right decision or the wrong one remains to be seen, but at least Smith and Rivera made it together.
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