From the name-change controversy to the recent story about sexual harassment against female employees, the Washington Redskins continue to have a tumultuous offseason. Luckily, though, the historic NFL franchise already has the perfect candidate to lead them through this crisis. No, it’s not the owner worth $2.6 billion. And it’s not a player on the roster. Instead, it’s the man tasked with winning on Sundays: Ron Rivera.
Washington Redskins are in crisis mode
Let’s just say the last month or so has not been fun for Dan Snyder. Of course, it hasn’t been much fun to be a Redskins fan during his embarrassing ownership tenure. The crisis officially kick-started with the team’s controversial name—an issue that has come up numerous times over the years.
Snyder has steadfastly opposed any change to his team’s name. Yet, once investors and sponsors got involved, he started to back off of his previous stance. Plus, even Roger Goodell essentially took a stance that the franchise does need to change its offensive name.
Already on the hot seat and with speculation flying about possibly getting ousted as the owner, Snyder and his franchise officially entered crisis mode on Thursday when The Washington Post published a story detailing rampant sexual harassment within the organization against female employees. We still don’t know if the NFL will discipline Snyder and/or the men mentioned.
However, considering the team’s longtime announcer retired abruptly and the organization fired two of its top scouts, it certainly looks like the Washington NFL franchise is on shaky ground. But if there’s anyone who can lead the Redskins through this difficult period, it’s Ron Rivera.
Ron Rivera deserves respect for his Carolina Panthers career
Despite never winning a Super Bowl title, Ron Rivera established a reputation as one of the most respected coaches in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. He spent nearly a decade as the man in charge and went 76-63-1. The former NFL linebacker coached the Panthers to a Super Bowl berth in 2015 thanks in large part to Cam Newton’s MVP performance.
Though Carolina did post losing records on six occasions under Rivera, it’s important to take that in context. Newton struggled to stay healthy, which certainly played a significant factor in the team failing to make the playoffs in three of the last four years. Plus, he didn’t get a ton of help from massively overrated general manager Dave Gettleman.
But what doesn’t get talked about enough is how Rivera dealt with a similar controversy in Carolina that he now faces in Washington. In 2017, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson faced major criticism after a Sports Illustrated story revealed that Richardson had used sexually suggestive language and made at least one racial slur toward an African-American Panthers scout.
Ultimately, Richardson sold the franchise at the end of that season. However, considering the story broke in December during a critical time for the Panthers, it put a ton of pressure on Ron Rivera to take on a more prominent role as the face of the franchise. Despite the distraction, the Panthers finished the year 11-5 and made the playoffs.
Rivera even earned a two-year contract extension and always seemed to garner tremendous respect from his players and fellow coaches. Ultimately, new Panthers owner David Tepper fired the longtime head coach after Week 13 of the 2019 season.
Can Rivera change the culture and turn the Redskins into a contender?
As the Washington Redskins inch closer to the 2020 season, it will be Ron Rivera, not Dan Snyder, who will lead the franchise through this crisis. The veteran coach wants to change the culture, and in light of recent events, it’s clear that he faces a tall task in achieving that mission.
Because he commands incredible respect from both his players and his peers, Rivera possesses the power to reshape the landscape of the once-proud NFL franchise. His no-nonsense approach should do wonders for a team that has lacked discipline and accountability.
From an on-field perspective, Rivera obviously brings a wealth of defensive knowledge. He inherits a supremely talented front seven that just added Chase Young with the second overall pick. Just thinking about the possibilities of a defensive front featuring Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Ryan Kerrigan should give offensive coordinators nightmares.
It’s time for change in Washington. And no coach is better equipped to handle the crisis going on with the historic NFL franchise than Ron Rivera.