Ron Rivera sounds fed up with the Commanders being an ‘easy target’

Ron Rivera is fed up with Commanders being an 'easy target' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

One day after Martin Mayhew politely pushed back on the idea that the Commanders are not a desirable team for outside players to want to join, Ron Rivera aggressively tackled that notion.

“I think it’s a lot better than people are portraying it, I’ll tell you that right now,” Rivera said Tuesday during a press conference with reporters at the annual league meetings in Florida. “We consciously, going into free agency, try to make people understand: Why not come to us?”

Rivera then went on to answer a myriad other questions before being confronted with more inquiries about the perception of the franchise. If “it’s a lot better” than the team’s doubters posit, then why haven’t the Commanders attracted more high-profile additions this offseason?

That’s when the coach’s passion ramped up.

“How many of those guys did we go after?” he said. “That’s the thing.”

“We’re an easy target, I get it,” Rivera continued. “But quite honestly, I’m tired of it. I really am. But the only way to fix that is win. And that’s the truth. That really is the truth.”

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The Russell Wilson trade that sent him to Denver just days after Washington attempted to scoop the quarterback gave new life to the thought that the organization is one premier players want to dodge. While Rivera and Co. have done well to secure mid-tier contributors like JD McKissic and Andrew Norwell this time around, and spent serious resources on Curtis Samuel and William Jackson III last year, there has been a lack of true star acquisitions under his watch.

Rivera, however, maintains that he’s positioning the Commanders as a squad that’s worth joining and once they can win at a more sustainable level, there will be even more helping coming in.

“Why shouldn’t I do the things that I do to try and promote who we are?” he said. “I really do believe in us. I really do believe in where we are. I believe in this fan base.”

Rivera’s animated responses are definitely understandable, because most of the negative feelings about Washington stem from a long stretch when he wasn’t on the payroll. Though back-to-back seven-win campaigns are not satisfactory, they also are not the primary issues people identify when criticizing the Commanders.

The widespread allegations about the toxic workplace that’s developed under Dan Snyder, for example, are extremely troubling — and that environment came to be long before Rivera’s tenure as coach.

Then there’s FedEx Field, which is a mess of a stadium — and it’s not like Rivera was the one who built it.

And Rivera’s 14-19 record — as underwhelming as it looks — isn’t nearly as ugly as some of his predecessors; instead, he’s just the latest leader to stumble on Washington’s sidelines. 

Now, would Rivera benefit from being more accountable? Certainly. After all, he accepted the job because it was a coach-centric gig, and with great power comes great responsibility (and blame).

But to be fair to Rivera, his stint started in January 2020, meaning he can only affect change from then until he moves on. He’s also not the one in charge of ticket sales or designing new jerseys — that’s why Jason Wright was hired as president. 

Ultimately, Rivera’s domain is what occurs on the field, which is how he’d like to be judged.

“Can we get away from [what] doesn’t involve the football aspect of it?” Rivera said. “I get it, people want to continue to pull you back into this and we’re trying to get away from it.

“We have a chance for, basically, a rebirth. We have a new name, we’ve got different players that we’re trying to bring in and have them be part of what we’re doing… I respect what happened over here, I understand how serious it is, but at the end of the day, my job is about football.”

Rivera’s fed up with the Commanders’ “easy target” status, and as he acknowledged, winning more would do a lot to erase that label. No, he’s not necessarily at fault for that target’s existence, but he could become one of the principle reasons for its erasure. Going off of his Tuesday media session, he’s desperate to do that soon.

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