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Ron Rivera on Eric Bieniemy comments: ‘I put my foot in my mouth’

Feb 23, 2023; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; Eric Bieniemy (M) poses with Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew (L) and Commanders head coach Ron Rivera (R) after being introduced as the new Commanders offensive coordinator and assistant head coach during an introductory press conference at Commanders Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera apologized Wednesday morning for his comments on the approach of new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Rivera led off his opening statement to his press conference by noting that his comments a day earlier “took on a different life.” He also noted that he spoke directly to Bieniemy to clear the air.

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“I basically told him I put my foot in my mouth,” Rivera said. “I think what I said wasn’t as clear as it needed to be. I think the understanding of it is just the fact that I think everybody’s making, in my opinion, a little bit more than needs to be made of this. Because again, the results are what you’re looking for on the field, and so far, the last couple days have been outstanding. I think Eric has done a great job of communicating his message now that guys have opened up, talked with him, he’s opened up to them. It’s been a great bit of growth the last couple of days that guys are starting to have the a-ha moments.”

The story took a different turn than Rivera intended on Tuesday when he said players were “a little concerned” about Bieniemy’s level of intensity in regard to his coaching style.

“As I’ve said many times since I’ve hired Eric, I love the overall message that he gave to the team his first day, and that was basically we’ve got to learn to be comfortable when we’re uncomfortable,” Rivera said. “And I think what’s happened is for those guys on that side of the ball, things are uncomfortable. There’s been a lot of change, and the entire way of doing things has changed on the offensive side. Change is hard, and I’ve always encouraged our players to have great dialogue and build relationships with our staff.”

Bieniemy, 53, spent five seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and won two Super Bowls before coach Andy Reid allowed him to exit for a play-calling role with Rivera and the Commanders. Rivera and Reid are close friends.

–Field Level Media