While the NFL regular season has only been finished for a matter of hours, the coaching carousel is already spinning. The Cleveland Browns made the first move by firing Freddie Kitchens, and it seems like the Washington Redskins are on the verge of getting their man. At this point, all signs point to Ron Rivera taking over in the nation’s capital.
The Redskins, however, are a notoriously dysfunctional organization; it’s hard to imagine any coach would be chomping at the bit to work under Dan Snyder. Ron Rivera, however, may have been enticed by one major perk of the job.
Ron Rivera’s coaching career
While most NFL coaches are life-long “football men,” few have the pedigree of Ron Rivera. The coach was an All-American linebacker at Cal; after the Bears snagged him in the second round of the 1984 draft, Rivera spent nine seasons in Chicago, winning Super Bowl XX.
After retiring, Rivera spent some time as a TV analyst before rejoining the Bears organization. He started out as a defensive quality control coach but, after a season in Chicago, headed to Philadelphia. After four seasons as the Eagles’ linebackers coach, however, he moved back to the Windy City to take over as defensive coordinator. With Rivera at the helm, Chicago turned into one of the league’s top defensive units.
After a spell in San Diego—Rivera spent one season at the Chargers’ linebackers coach and two as defensive coordinator—he finally got a chance to be the main man. While Rivera took a couple of seasons to find his footing in Carolina, the team eventually clicked and started making the playoffs. In 2013, Rivera took home Coach of the Year honors as his Panthers posted a 12-4 regular season; two years later, he won the award again on the back of a 15-1 record and a trip to the Super Bowl.
After that loss in the Big Game, however, results started to trail off. The Panthers managed to make the playoffs in 2017 but collapsed down the stretch in 2018. With 2019 going the same way, Rivera lost his job midway through the campaign.
Could personnel control convince Ron Rivera to join the Redskins?
While there are still some formalities remaining, it seems like Ron Rivera will be taking over the Washington Redskins coaching job. It also looks like the new head coach will have some say in personnel decisions, too.
On Monday morning, Washington confirmed that they had relieved Bruce Allen of his duties as the head of football operations. While many thought that meant Eric Schaffer, the team’s senior vice president of football operations, would take over as general manager, Julie Donaldson of NBC Sports Washington says that isn’t the case.
As of now, Donaldson reports that the organization could wait until after the draft to name a new general manager, allowing Rivera to shape the direction of Washington’s picks. Rivera would also presumably have some say in the selection of a new GM when the time comes; he has a relationship with Kyle Smith, Washington’s head of college scouting, so that partnership could be on the cards. No matter what happens, though, Ron Rivera’s fingerprints will be all over the Redskins offseason.
Riverboat Ron is betting on himself, big-time
In modern professional sports, the Washington Redskins are one of the least attractive organizations around. Riverboat Ron, however, is placing a big bet on himself.
Every NFL head coach dreams of having total control of football operations. The allure is obvious; when things go right—as they have in New England, for example—and everything clicks, you made it all happen. There’s no possibility of miscommunication between the front office and coaching staff because everyone is taking their cues from the same man. While Rivera might not have complete control in Washington, he’ll have a license to reshape the team’s culture and should play some role in personnel decisions. That power, combined with what’s surely a massive payday, had to be tempting.
Ron Rivera is a good coach. The Washington Redskins are a bad organization. At the end of the day, something has to give. Only time will tell if this bet will go boom or bust.