Ron Rivera exceeded all expectations in his first year as head coach of the Washington Football Team in 2020.
Not only did Rivera lead Washington to the NFC East title, despite a 7-9 record, but he also did it while battling cancer. What Rivera did behind the scenes and for the culture in Washington should have made him a runaway choice for NFL coach of the year.
After last season, Rivera now has a career record of 83-72-1 as a head coach. He is 3-5 in the playoffs.
Sports Illustrated recently ranked all head coaches from 1-32, and Rivera fell right in the middle at No. 16.
Rivera’s second act has been an encouraging one so far. While on-field success doesn’t come close to repairing an organization’s overall health, Rivera has brought a sheen of professionalism to Washington that it hasn’t had since the Mike Shanahan era. Rivera has the clout to get rid of bad picks, a front office loaded with seasoned veterans who have a strong track record of personnel experience and a roster that, while developing at the skill positions, has some of the better bones in the NFL. Washington could easily win the division again this season on the shoulders of Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defensive line that will torture opposing quarterbacks. Rivera has twice won the NFL’s head coach of the year award and while it rarely happens a third time, he would be an interesting bet given that we expect the NFC East to recover and largely view Washington as a middle-tier club because of their plan to roll with a journeyman veteran at QB.
Rivera did bring a “sheen of professionalism” to Washington. It had been years — long before Shanahan — since that professionalism existed in Washington. In defense of Shanahan, he still had to contend with owner Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen. Rivera has the clout to make all decisions.
Do I believe Rivera should be higher on this list? Yes. He is a two-time NFL coach of the year and now has a strong roster that some believe is a quarterback away from doing major damage in the playoffs. Rivera signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead Washington’s offense in 2021.
If Rivera leads Washington to another NFC East title in 2021, these rankings could look a lot different at this time next year.
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