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Three concrete examples of Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith being on the same page

Three concrete examples of Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith being on the same page

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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Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers say they won't have any fans for at least their first two home games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans' energetic support in the stands," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season. These two games will allow us to focus our attention on safely conducting games inside the stadium with all necessary participants."

That means there won't be any spectators for their Sept. 20 game with the Detroit Lions and their Oct. 5 Monday night game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Green Bay's third home game is Nov. 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Packers officials say any decision on whether to admit fans for that game would depend on the status of the pandemic, and that they'd consult with local health officials.

This announcement comes two weeks after Packers CEO Mark Murphy had said that any Packers home games this year would include no more than 10,000-12,000 spectators, if any fans were allowed at all.

All other public areas at Lambeau Field, including parking lots, the pro shop and the Packers Hall of Fame, will be closed during the home games that have no fans. The Titletown area surrounding Lambeau Field will remain open to the public, but no team-run, game-day activities will be planned.

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Radio host Kevin Sheehan says it would be 'major indictment on Dwayne Haskins' if he doesn't start Week 1

Radio host Kevin Sheehan says it would be 'major indictment on Dwayne Haskins' if he doesn't start Week 1

As the Washington Football Team continues to ramp things up in training camp, head coach Ron Rivera has yet to officially name the team's starting quarterback.

However, for Team 980 radio host Kevin Sheehan, there's only one direction the team should go at the position.

"If he doesn't start September 13th against the Eagles, it's a major indictment on Dwayne Haskins," Sheehan said Thursday on Washington Talk & Friends.

In the QB room, there's Haskins, a first-round pick from a year ago that many expect to be the eventual starter. But Washington did trade this offseason for Kyle Allen, who has spent the past two seasons under Rivera and Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner in Carolina.

Earlier this offseason, Rivera said that if there was no normal offseason program due to the coronavirus pandemic, Allen would have a "leg up" on Haskins entering camp. 

Despite all that has transpired the past several months, Sheehan doesn't want the odd, pandemic-riddled offseason to be an excuse as to why Haskins shouldn't be the team's Week 1 starter.

"I don't care what anybody says about the offseason, minicamps and OTAs missing and Kyle Allen getting traded for, [Haskins] has got to be the guy," Sheehan said. 


Earlier this week, Rivera praised Haskins for how he's handled everything this offseason. He commended the passer for how much of the playbook he's already mastered, albeit that being less than three-quarters of it.

Rivera's ultimate decision for who the team's starter will be isn't just between Haskins and Allen. Besides those two young signal-callers, there's also another QB in the mix: veteran Alex Smith. The 35-year-old is currently on the active PUP list, but has been cleared by his personal doctors to return to football activities.

Smith's journey is remarkable. After nearly losing his leg (and maybe his life) from infections that occurred as a result of the gruesome leg injury he suffered in November of 2018, Smith has worked incredibly hard to return to football. 

Even if Smith does get the clearance from Washington team doctors, Sheehan doesn't envision a scenario where the quarterback takes a meaningful snap for Washington.

"I don't see Alex Smith taking anything other than, if he takes a snap on an NFL field, it'll be ceremonial," Sheehan said. "That's what I'm hoping for, too, but I hope he gets back to where he's cleared and then decides not to play."


When asked why he thinks Rivera has not come out and named Haskins the starter already, Sheehan explained that the second-year passer may benefit from believing he's in a competition.

On his radio show, Sheehan spoke to former Washington cornerback Shawn Springs, who happens to be one of Haskins' biggest mentors. Springs explained to him that Haskins may benefit from not being given the title of QB1 just yet.

"[Springs] really thinks that it's better if Dwayne perceives he's in a competition," Sheehan said. "Maybe Ron recognizes that, too."

While Haskins may not be the starter just yet, plenty of signs point towards the second-year passer being Washington's Week 1 starting quarterback. And that's exactly why Sheehan and many others in the D.C. area believe he is the best direction for the team to go.

"I think he's fearless," Sheehan said of Haskins. "This thing is not above him, it's not too much for him."

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