By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
Ron Rivera believes “It’s all about your messaging,” yet the message was mixed throughout their first six weeks.
“We don’t have the pieces, but we’re making progress.”
The goal for this season remains confusing. The first year head coach of the Washington Football Team admits the team is a work-in-progress and they are trying to create a new culture of winning. However, the chance to win the NFC East, arguably the worst division, remains viable, despite their 1-5 record.
“The division is sitting right there,” Rivera said during Monday’s zoom call with local media. “I think you go for it because it’s there.”
After last week’s loss to the winless New York Giants, who were playing without their best player, it may have become prudent to pump the brakes on the prospects for a special season. Either the season is about changing the culture or winning a division. This roster doesn’t have the ability to do both.
“It’s about the message and I think my message has been consistent,” Rivera said. “Our young players have to learn to work together and put themselves in a position to win.”
Rivera’s strength and calm during the offseason controversy that preceded his tenure created a sense that things were changing. However, the vacillating between transparency and reality are now obvious. Dwayne Haskins was expected to compete and win the starting QB job by performing well against a tougher schedule to open the season or he would be replaced. Apparently, the audition before his new coach wasn’t satisfactory and he’s been replaced by a player that was in the moving van with him.
Three of Haskins losses were to Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore who have a combined record of 12-5. Meanwhile Kyle Allen, who came with Rivera from Carolina, takes over during a much easier stretch of games. Allen started the loss to the Rams (4-2) before he was knocked out of the game. He followed with last weekend’s loss to the Giants (1-5) and face the (2-4) Cowboys this Sunday before the bye week, then a rematch with the Giants at FedEx Field. All winnable games, which could keep them in the division race.
Haskins has basically been deactivated indefinitely and replaced by Allen, who did drive them on a late game that would have won the game had it not been for a Dustin Hopkins missed field goal in the first half. Cosmetically, the game did look better than it did when the Baltimore Ravens took them behind the woodshed for a beatdown the week before. Allen seemed to have better command of the offense; he was more efficient at running offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s system.
However, it was his fumble that led to the Giants’ winning score. No matter how good the performance was by Rivera’s standards, it still ended with a loss. The Washington Football Team has still lost five consecutive games and his assistants haven’t put this young team in position to win. Everyone, except Haskins, seems to be getting an extended learning curve since there wasn’t a conventional offseason while Rivera is using a plausible chance to win a bad division as the reason to potentially ruin a young quarterback’s chance to compete for the starting job anymore.