Football coaches are used to having a full plate, but right now, Ron Rivera is sitting at a table lined with full plates — and it feels like more orders are on their way.
For most of the offseason, Washington's head coach has been trying to prepare a young team to outperform expectations through Zoom meetings and phone calls. Instead of practices, he's used PowerPoint.
That's far from ideal.
Rivera hasn't just been tasked with handling on-field issues, though. The 58-year-old has also been heavily involved in advancing the franchise's name change, a task that's partly done yet also has much further to go until completion.
That's far from normal.
And now, Rivera is in the center of a mess — a top-to-bottom, years-in-the-making mess — involving widespread allegations of sexual misconduct that he has no part in. Despite that, he's being leaned on to clean it up.
That's far from fair.
Yet he's, somehow, far from discouraged.
"We have to move forward from this and make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open-door policy with no retribution," Rivera said to ESPN's John Keim hours after Thursday's searing Washington Post story dropped. "Plus my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this!"
In a Friday interview with NBC Sports Washington, Fred Smoot explained why he's ultra-confident in Rivera's ability to improve the organization.
"I think he’s ready for this," Smoot said. "He understands you don’t make your mark when everything goes well, you make your mark when things go awry.
"I don’t think coach regrets anything," he continued. "I think he’s really embellishing the point that he can clean this up, that he can be a part of correcting this. And that’s what we need, we need a leader. And that’s why I think Ron Rivera is the perfect candidate for the job."
RELATED: THE 15 DAYS THAT CHANGED THIS FRANCHISE FOREVER
The longtime defensive back pointed back to how Rivera, in his opening presser after being hired in January, promised to elevate the culture in Ashburn. While there's no way Rivera could've known just how much elevating could be required, Smoot has complete faith that he'll accomplish that goal.
In fact, he's already envisioning what Rivera will be labeled when he does.
"Think about this," Smoot said. "In four of fives years from now, when we’re an established franchise and we’re doing better, how is he going to look? He’s going to look like the savior, because he was the savior. He’s a rock. You look to your leaders at a time like this and if they don’t falter, no one else will."
Not everyone is as sure as Smoot, though.
ESPN radio host Mike Golic Sr. asked aloud on Friday if Rivera is already wishing he didn't accept the job from Dan Snyder.
Meanwhile, Domonique Foxworth, an ex-corner like Smoot, took basically the exact opposite stance during Friday's First Take show. To Foxworth, Rivera has basically been tossed into a fourth-and-30 and told to pick up a first down.
"Stop it if you think that Ron Rivera is going to fix this," Foxworth said. "He’s a football coach. And we shouldn’t ask him to fix this, it’s not his responsibility, he has no ability to do so, we have no reason to believe that he’s capable of doing so."
Foxworth, like a host of others, is instead calling on Snyder to make serious adjustments — or the league to do so if Snyder won't himself.
That's something Smoot agreed with, at least. The owner's "a very quiet," "very shy person," according to Smoot, but he still has to make himself more accessible to the public in order to show that he understands how much work must be done. That goes beyond making statements like this one.
And even though Smoot clearly trusts Rivera to be the guy to turn around the entire operation, he did acknowledge that Rivera will need help from the man at the top.
"Everything works in unison," he said.
MORE TEAM NEWS