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Ron Rivera says he’s focused on QB development, not his own future

Although the Washington Commanders are 4-6 under new ownership and have just seven games left to make the playoffs, coach Ron Rivera said he hasn’t given much thought about his own future and that his priority was to develop quarterback Sam Howell. .

“I mean, I understand the situation and the circumstances, but I’m not going to waver on anything,” Rivera said Friday. “I will stick to what I talked about in the spring, which was the growth and development of the quarterback and the offensive unit. … My big disappointment is we didn’t play as good defense as we needed to. Does this jeopardize my job security? It could. I mean, I have no idea what (owner) Mr. (Josh) Harris is going to do. So all I can do is focus on every game every week and stay on that game.

“I did the same thing in Carolina, and the truth is that’s the nature of the game,” he continued, reflecting on the end of his nine-year tenure with the Panthers in 2019, a season after David Tepper. bought the team. “I understand. So if it happens, it happens. If I stay, I stay. In the meantime, I’ll just keep working.

Harris, a private equity investor and owner of several professional sports franchises, completed its $6.05 billion purchase of Commanders in July, a few days before the start of training camp. His intention was to use his first season to observe and analyze the team’s football and business operations before making a decision regarding his personnel and necessary changes.

But he’s never guaranteed a long-term future for anyone, and given the team’s disappointing play of late, it’s plausible that both sides of the deal could undergo changes after the season.

Rivera said he is “confident and comfortable” in his abilities as head coach and noted that his tenure in Washington has been fraught with challenges off the field, including multiple investigations by the federal government and the NFL over the team’s former ownership and location. Rivera was also diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and underwent chemotherapy and proton radiation treatments that sapped him physically and mentally for most of his first two seasons.

“S—, I’ve been through enough,” Rivera said. “The last three and a half years have not been easy. Anyone who thinks this was easy, to hell with it. And I’m going to be honest with you, because that’s how I’ve felt for the last three years. That’s a lot, we’ve done a lot.

But he noted that Washington’s defensive struggles, especially in recent weeks, have been disappointing. The team’s pass rush has fallen flat, and two and a half weeks ago he swapped defensive ends and former first-round picks Montez Sweat and Chase Young to the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.

Wanted: Game-changing plays thanks to Commanders’ defensive tackles

“Last week we didn’t have the pressure on the quarterback that I would have liked to have,” Rivera said. “(Seahawks quarterback) Geno (Smith) was struggling. It would have been nice to be able to put more pressure on the quarterback. That would have helped us. That probably would have given us an even better opportunity to win. But, again, I’m going to work with what we have, deal with what we have and continue to stick to what I said.

But when asked if he considered making a change to his defensive staff in hopes of sparking improvement, much like Buffalo hoped on offense when it fired coordinator Ken Dorsey earlier this week, Rivera said he never thought about it.

“No because, I mean, in this current situation and circumstances, to me, there’s more than one reason (for the team’s record),” Rivera said. “And I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus or blame anyone. I want to finish this season. I want to finish the season with as many victories as possible. I want to make the playoffs. We have seven games left and we will see what happens. But I’m not going anywhere in terms of changing what I do or my approach. We started this and I think we have an opportunity to do some good things and, again, continue to grow.

Rivera said he continues to have multiple conversations with Harris and his ownership group about the direction of the team and day-to-day decisions on the field, from game decisions and personnel.

“Mr. Harris has been great, he really has,” Rivera said. “And it’s just, you know, he’s playing close to the vest, as he should. That’s his prerogative as as an owner. He will make the decisions that he feels are best for the future. So we’ll see what happens.

He added: “What feels good is, at the end of the day, the questions that need to be asked are: Is the culture better and have we found the quarterback? That’s all I can control. I can control what I can and that’s how I see it. But our guys will be there, our guys will play hard. We will play until the end, like we did last year, and see what happens at the end.

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