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4 reasons Ron Rivera is the right hire as Washington’s next coach

Yes, team owner Daniel Snyder looks to be making smart decisions for once.

Soon-to-be Washington coach Ron Rivera, wearing sunglasses and pointing with his left index finger, superimposed on a red, white, and blue background
Ron Rivera, who was fired by the Panthers in December, didn’t last long on the coaching market.

Black Monday is upon us in the NFL. The Browns and Giants have fired their coaches. The Cowboys should be moving on from Jason Garrett soon, and the Jaguars might be in the market for a new leader as well. And one team that already had an opening is poised to make a hire.

Washington, which fired Jay Gruden in October, have officially hired former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. I know ya’ll are probably wondering the same thing: Did Washington actually do the right thing for once?

Team owner Dan Snyder, who’s been in charge of this dumpster fire for over 20 years now, is making good decisions for the first time in years. First, he fired longtime president Bruce Allen, which was step one in fixing some of the dysfunction in the building. The team is also making changes to the training staff, which is optimal after the Trent Williams situation.

These decisions point the franchise in the right direction. All that was needed was the right hire for head coach — and that’s Rivera.

4 reasons Rivera is a good fit for Washington

As a Washington fan of mine texted me, “I can’t believe we are doing the right thing.” Me neither. And I’m equally as shocked Rivera would take this role, but here’s why I think it’ll work.

1. Rivera will have a good working relationship with the front office

I’m assuming he’s taking this job because he will be allowed to choose his player personnel department. I know there is worry when a head coach gets to choose his own front office personnel, but Ron Rivera told Mike Silver he doesn’t want full control. He just wants to control who plays on Sunday.

“I don’t want personnel control,” Rivera said. “I just want to be able to pick which 46 are active for game day, and have a collaborative relationship (with a general manager) — and, if there’s a conflict, be able at least to go to the owner and state my case.”

This setup can work, as we have seen recently in San Francisco and Buffalo. Having a competent head coach choose his own general manager can be helpful for team building. There needs to be a synergy between the front office and the coaching staff, and that is lacking in many buildings. Too often the front office chooses players who don’t fit in the system, and in this case, it seems like Washington will allow a partnership that will work between Rivera and whoever else is hired.

2. Rivera can bring a winning culture to the team

Rivera is an excellent fit for any team, but particularly a team that doesn’t have an identity, like this one. He’s a former player who understand the relationship between a coach and a player. He’s tough on his players but respectful. They enjoy playing for him and he’s able to get the most from them.

I know he only had three winning seasons in Carolina, but it’s not as bad as it looked. He took over a putrid 2-14 squad in early 2011. The Panthers drafted Cam Newton and as expected, they took their rookie bumps and bruises and went 6-10 The following season, the Panthers rose to 7-9 as they continued to churn the roster and work with Newton. In 2013, it came together and the Panthers went 12-4. In 2014, the Panthers again made the playoffs and then 2015 brought the Panthers a Super Bowl berth. As we’ve seen with plenty of NFC teams after a Super Bowl loss, 2016 was a down season. The Panthers returned to form the following season to earn a wild card berth at 11-5, before losing to the Saints for the third time that season.

Heading into 2018, expectations were high and they got off a roaring start. The Panthers went 6-2 before Newton injured his shoulder and the season fell apart. Cam only played two games this season before the Panthers put him on ice. So outside of the first two rebuilding seasons, and the last two with an injured Newton (and other parts of the roster), Rivera led the Panthers to the playoffs four out of five seasons, and reached a Super Bowl once.

That ability to turn things around is needed in Washington, which hasn’t made the postseason since 2015 and hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2005 season.

3. Rivera will make the right coordinator hires to help his players succeed

There are things that will help Rivera in Washington that we don’t discuss enough. Rivera brought in offensive coordinators who designed an offense that perfectly fit Cam Newton’s skillset. We’ve given the proper credit to John Harbaugh for going all-in on a nontraditional offense that fit Lamar Jackson’s skillset. It feels like Rivera doesn’t get enough credit for doing the same with Newton.

That’s also a great example of Rivera being flexible and adaptable, instead of being rigid. Now he will be tasked with helping to develop young quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who is going to be the future of the team. I trust Rivera to hire the right people to make this happen.

4. Rivera is a good PR man

The last thing that flies under the radar for Rivera is what he mentioned on his way out in Carolina. He was often the public relations arm for the team. The owner never spoke and like most general managers, Marty Hurney and Dave Gettleman, didn’t speak often. Anytime there was controversy, Rivera handled it seamlessly. It never appeared to bother the team and they continued to play well and hard under him.

Plain and simple, Ron Rivera will be the adult in the facility in Ashburn, which is exactly what Washington needs. I believe this will be a successful partnership.