Embarrassing Night in Washington
The stage was set for Ron Rivera and the Washington Commanders to put the rest of the league on notice. Not only that they had finally found a QB in Sam Howell, or that the first round filled defense was ready to take the next step, but that they were going to be a force in the NFC and a tough team to beat in January. Turns out it was just another embarrassing night in Washington.
It took three plays for the Commanders to fall on their face and only two quarters for them to embarrass themselves completely like a kid who pees his pants at his own birthday party. I was one of those naïve fans who thought this year would be different and bought tickets to the prime time Josh Harris Commanders coronation party. However, Things were murky before we even stepped foot into the stadium. News came out that Hall of Fame legend Dick Butkus had passed away earlier that day and I quickly realized that not only was this a terrible development for the Commanders, but the amount of Bears fans filing into the stadium was now incredibly apparent and were going to be a problem for any kind of home field advantage Washington thought they had.
I’ve been to enough Dan Snyder Washington games to know what its like to watch the other teams fans fill up Fed-Ex Field and surround you in your seat making you feel like you’ve been somehow air-dropped behind enemy lines. You sit there rationalizing the play on the field to the people around you like you’re running a PR firm, and laughing away insults about draft picks, free agent signings, and terrible coaching decisions. This was supposed to be different.
Yes they got blown out by Buffalo two weeks ago, but they hung around with the Eagles and gave everyone in the DC area illusions of grandeur about where this team was headed. Everyone seemed to forget one thing. This is a Ron Rivera team. Aim for the middle and probably miss seems to be his coaching philosophy and five weeks into his fourth season as head coach the team is stuck in the mud.
Whether it’s the decision to put first round rookie CB Emmanuel Forbes on an island by himself to get torched, or continually electing not to go for it on 4th down in critical situations, Rivera has proved time and time again that the game has passed him by. While coaches like Rams Sean McVay, 49ers Kyle Shanahan, or Eagles Nick Sirianni are being as aggressive as possible and putting their teams in a position to win week in and week out, the Commanders are stuck with a dinosaur who thinks kicking a field goal to go from a two possession game to a slightly closer two possession game is giving his team the best chance to win.
Josh Harris and Co. have been the owners for five weeks and after Thursday nights debacle, its safe to say the honeymoon is over. Harris needs to put this entire team on notice that the old ways are not going to fly anymore, that an embarrassing night in Washington is unacceptable, or this fan base is going to turn on him the same way they did with Snyder. His first move should be cutting ties with the last remnants of the old regime and showing Rivera the door.