New faces; new coaches. The Washington Redskins cleaned house at the end of their 3-13 season. Jay Gruden fired after an 0-5 start. Because Bill Callahan went 3-8, after becoming the intern head coach, he didn’t survive the cleaning. Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at each new coach and trying to see how they will impact the team.
New Faces: Head Coach
Ron Rivera enters his 24th season coaching in the NFL and his first as the Washington Redskin’s head coach. He will become the 30th head coach in franchise history.
The two NFL coach of the year inherits a 3-13 team. However, Rivers inherited a 2-14 Carolina Panthers team as a rookie head coach in 2011. Because of his leadership, the Panthers became an NFC force with four playoff appearances since 2013. Over those six years, the Panthers recorded 58 wins. This is tied for the most wins in franchise history of six years. Also, it was the fifth-most wins in the NFL during the span.
Rivera is known as a defensive expert. The Carolina Panthers had five top-10 finishes in total defense in seven seasons from 2012-2018. Due to his steady and stable style, the Panthers improved over the first two seasons, improving their win totals each year. As a result, in 2013, the Panthers won the first of their three consecutive division championships. Due to this, Rivera earned his first NFL coach of the year award. Because he blended veterans and young talent, Rivera had productive units on both sides of the ball.
Ron Rivera is also known for his commitment to the run. As a result of this, the Panthers finished among the league’s top 10 rushing offenses, including top-five finishes in 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2018. At one point, the Panthers recorded 30 consecutive regular-season games with at least 100 rushing yards. The longest streak in the NFL since the Steelers had 43 from 1974-77.
Carolina’s run defense ranked in the top ten of the NFL in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Due to the tenacity of their defense, The Panthers, over two years, went 21 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, which set a franchise record.
Ron Rivera is known for hard work, attention to detail, and preparation. The same qualities he exhibited as a player. As a result, the Panthers tripled their win total in Rivera’s first season as their head coach. Despite a slow start, the team finished with four wins in the final six games.
Coaches and family have influenced Rivera’s character and identity. As a player, Rivera was coached by the late Buddy Ryan, the architect of the “46 Defense,” which involved blitzing on nearly every down. As a coach, Rivera learned under Jim Johnson, who was a highly regarded defensive coordinator, known for his aggressive approach.
Because he was the son of a U.S. Army officer and the second youngest of four boys, Ron learned from a young age about the chain of command and many of the principles he teaches and expects from his players. Rivera believes in discipline and during his introductory press conference to the Redskins on Jan. 2nd, stated, “I have a philosophy that every player, every coach, everyone who works for this organization, they’ll know it day one.”
New Faces = New Outlook
Ron Rivera comes to a team with a lot of young talent and a highly drafted quarterback that is still learning. ESPN ranks the Redskins rookie class as the number one most productive class of 2019. However, Rivera has been in this situation before. As a result of his coaching and beliefs, players such as Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly blossomed under his tutelage. With a stronger focus on accountability and discipline, the 2020 Washington Redskins should also see a turn around much as the Carolina Panthers did during Ron Rivera’s first season as head coach.
Probably the most significant factor in the change of air surrounding the upcoming season is the fact that Bruce Allen is no longer a part of the organization. Couple this with the strong, reliable, and effective characteristics of Ron Rivera, and you have a fan base feeling good about 2020. I, myself, am excited for the upcoming season. I am looking forward to watching Ron Rivera, shape, mold, and develop this young core. Not just into successful football players, but also into successful men. Winners on and off the field. HTTR!
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