“There’s really no confusion,” Rivera said Thursday. “The young man is sick and because he is feeling sick we don’t want him to come into the building and spread the flu-like symptoms that he has.”
There is a clear message. I have it?
But even before that string of Haskin’s absences – which, whether gastrointestinal issues or not, makes it less likely that he will regain his role as a starter, let alone future quarterback – Rivera’s first season as coach of his new team has grown to mirror the approach. That was chaotic given the novel coronavirus pandemic, name change, reports of sexist culture across the franchise, and Rivera’s cancer diagnosis. Such chaos could be uncharted territory for Rivera. For Washington football, it’s a day in the life.
During that unprecedented kickoff, Rivera held the room. He was grown up. He treated with dignity and class. He gave the clear impression that he was going to restore order where there had been none.
But five weeks after the start of the season, when it comes to the actual football, is there order or just more chaos? On Thursday, in my opinion, Rivera gave the clearest explanation yet for how he approaches the time between now and Thanksgiving, a stretch in which Washington will play six games against four teams with a combined record of 4-14-1.
“We’ll try,” Rivera said in his daily Zoom meeting with reporters. “And that’s all I’m doing right now. I’ve changed my approach. A lot of them look at the schedule from the start and say, “These first four games are going to be very interesting, but we’re still developing. These next four, depending on where we are, we have a chance. ‘ Lets see what happens.”
Nevertheless, the coach who had the idea of building a stable foundation has now made this foundation seem more precarious – and voluntarily. If you were told in August that Rivera would be holding on to his time-outs towards the end of consecutive two-point games in an effort to develop his soccer team and ward off injuries, put Haskins in for a revenue machine that Kyle Allen is aiming for a division title and then hold a stolen but cleared allen out of the second half of a 10-point game in favor of a 36-year-old with a titanium bar in his leg and then explicitly outline how he changed his approach because he thought his 1st -4 team could reach the top of NFC East. You could reasonably ask, develop or win, Ron? What is the priority in October 2020?
When Rivera was asked last month if he would like to keep his time off as if he could deposit it with a bank and win interest, he said, “I’m worried about the development of this football team and I don’t appease anyone who has an opinion.”
The answer seems to be both. And not only is that difficult to achieve, but it’s also a tough sell to a fan base who, for once, wants a consistent message.
“Things are going to be difficult,” said Rivera on Thursday. “I said it from the start: It won’t be easy. I will not just go [say]Just because I show up will we win the division. We have to work this through. There are many things through which one can grow.
“And you have to keep playing, and you have to keep playing against the guys who you think will help you move forward. We try to do that. We’re going to play against guys who we think can help us. “
That one sentence – “You have to keep playing the guys who you think will help you” – is just so damned for Haskins. Rivera benched Haskins last week after the 2019 round first draft pick recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career. When he did, he said it was because of the weak schedule ahead and because Allen had experience in the team’s system with Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner with Carolina. Now, from Rivera’s own words, it is clear that Haskins is neither part of the present nor the future, whether that stomach bug goes away or not.
Benching Haskins is both Rivera’s prerogative and, if he believes he cannot or will not develop, his responsibility. But it’s also Rivera’s responsibility to create clear messages that instill confidence in what he’s trying to build here. If he banks Haskins in favor of Allen because Allen, he said, gives the team a better chance of winning, but then holds Allen on the sidelines in favor of ineffective veteran Alex Smith, who returned from a catastrophic leg injury two years ago Although everyone has been allowed to play, this does not provide any clarity. It creates confusion.
Back in January, the day he was introduced as a trainer, Rivera said in a conversation with his new boss, team owner Daniel Snyder: “I told him that, to be honest, I didn’t want to go through a five-year rebuilding process. “
Less than five years have passed. It’s only been five weeks. There’s time to be patient, and there is every chance Ron Rivera was just the right person to step into a culture that was in dire need of overhaul. He did so much right navigating the 20-foot waves of an off-season that didn’t come with either a compass or a map.
Now, five games in the current season, he is leading his 1-4 team through an “interesting route” and is apparently aiming for a division title. He was hired to bring order and discipline to his franchise. It would help if he had the same order and discipline in his message.