Dating back to his days as a player for Mike Ditka and the hard-nosed Chicago Bears teams of the 1980s, Ron Rivera has been among the most-respected individuals in the game of football.
Following his playing career, Rivera took some time off before going into coaching. He started as a defensive quality control coach with the Bears in 1997 and 1998 before becoming the Philadelphia Eagles’ linebackers coach under Andy Reid.
Since then, Rivera has coached under the likes of Lovie Smith and Norv Turner who are also respected football guys. He finally got his shot as a head coach with the Carolina Panthers back in 2011. That span saw him lead the most successful run in Panthers history, including a Super Bowl appearance.
That’s also why it was so surprising that Carolina moved off Rivera following the 2019 season. One organization’s mistake would almost certainly include another organization hitting a home run, right?
That’s what the then-Washington Football Team believed to be the case when they brought him in ahead of the 2020 campaign. Two years later, and things might not tun out that way. Rivera has posted a 14-19 record. Washington is coming off a disastrous 7-10 season and seems to be playing third fiddle to the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Could this lead to Rivera being among the head coaches on the hot seat in 2022?
Ron Rivera as a respected force for drama-filled Washington Commanders organization
We can’t hide it. Washington is among the most dysfunctional organizations in the professional sports world. Widespread allegations of workplace misconduct starting at the top with owner Daniel Snyder have led to very public congressional hearings surrounding the organization. Meanwhile, allegations surfaced against Snyder that he withheld ticket revenue from other owners — leading to the belief that he could be forced out.
All the while, Rivera has been tasked with changing the culture within the Commanders’ organization. It is not something that he has shied away from.
Rivera is 100% correct here. Not only did Washington attempt to change the cultue by bringing him in the first place, the hiring of Jason Wright as the Commanders’ president was a home run. He replaced the embattled Bruce Allen, who played a central role in another league-wide scandal involving Jon Gruden and the Raiders.
On the surface, it seems that Rivera and Wright have changed the dynamics some. With Snyder’s wife, Tanya, running the day-to-day operations, that’s magnified further.
Culture change might not be enough for Ron Rivera in Washington
Back to Daniel Snyder for a second. Not only is he seen as a malignant force within the NFL, his tenure in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster.
Since Snyder’s purchase of the organization from Jack Kent Cooke back in May of 1999, it has made all of six playoff appearances without a single trip to the NFC Championship Game. From signing big-name free agents who turned into busts to hiring questionable head coaches (remember Steve Spurrier?), mistakes have been the name of the game for Snyder in Washington.
Could Rivera end up being the fall guy for Snyder? It seems more than possible. It’s also going to depend heavily on what Washington does in 2022 starting Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Washington added embattled quarterback Carson Wentz to the mix in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Months later, it signed star wide receiver Terry McLaurin to an extension in a move that changed the narrative following a disastrous offseason for the organization.
Will this be enough for Washington to compete with Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East? We’re not too sure. But for Ron Rivera’s sake and job security, we sure the heck hope so.