What Ron Rivera cares about when evaluating players who become available

What Ron Rivera looks at when evaluating available players originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Washington fans are — and this is a heavy understatement — a passionate bunch, so much so that they often try to advocate for the team to look at certain players when those players are released or made available via a trade by their current franchise. The latest example of this is with Jaylon Smith, a former Pro Bowler that the Cowboys just released.

Ron Rivera, the man who’s actually in charge of the organization’s personnel decisions, spoke on Wednesday about what he emphasizes when evaluating guys who could be acquired and also how the overall process works. 

“You look at the way they handled themselves in terms of getting a lined up for plays, how they communicate with the people around them,” Rivera told reporters during a press conference. “That’s always an indicator. If somebody’s always pushing them over or moving them up or moving them back, that’s an indicator that he hasn’t quite got it.”

Placing a priority on understanding responsibilities and having football IQ makes sense, because in these situations, an in-season pickup will be asked to learn very quickly. There’s no training camp or exhibition contests, after all, so it’s paramount that an addition is savvy enough to fit in as soon as possible. If he can’t, then the transaction will be a waste.

“You do look for those types of things,” Rivera said. “Will he adapt? Will he grow? Will he get your verbiage?”

The head coach also delved into the inner workings of the organization and discussed who does what when a name of interest is suddenly attainable.

“When those players do come up, our pro department right off the bat starts pulling up their reports,” he said. “They start looking at tape and then they’ll pass those on to me, they’ll pass them on to (General Manager) Martin (Mayhew), they’ll pass them on to (Executive Vice President of Football/Player Personnel) Marty (Hurney) and (Senior Vice President of Football Administration) Rob (Rogers). Each one of us will take a look at things.”

Rivera, Mayhew and Hurney collectively watch the film, which is often put together by Director of Pro Personnel Chris Polian. Sometimes, Polian will point that trio to a specific game of that player’s or he’ll offer up multiple tapes. Rogers, meanwhile, is in charge of the financial aspect and what a potential contract might entail.   

“I really like our chain of how things happen,” Rivera said. “We’ll all talk about it.”

Ultimately, though, this is Rivera’s show, so he’s the one who’ll make the final call after collaborating with those that he trusts. And going off of his Wednesday quotes, that call will only come if he knows that the person on the other side of it will be prepared to contribute soon after his arrival.

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