Washington Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder started 2020 off on a weird note.
Snyder addressed the media at the introductory press conference for new head coach Ron Rivera and wished everyone a “Happy Thanksgiving” on Thursday.
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“Good afternoon. First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. Today is the beginning of a great new year for the Redskins’ organization and its fans,” Snyder said.
It wasn’t clear whether Snyder didn’t know what day it was or if his statement was an inside joke. The Washington Post said that Snyder didn’t speak when the team introduced Mike Shanahan or Jay Gruden.
Rivera, who was let go by the Carolina Panthers in the middle of the 2019 season, vowed to bring success to the Redskins’ organization. Washington has not made the playoffs since the 2015 season. They have had three straight losing seasons, as well.
“I told Mr. Snyder that I appreciate the fact that he believes the head coach matters,” Rivera said. “I told him I would be honored, but under one condition: It had to be a player-centered culture, something I truly do believe in.”
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Rivera said the team will be about discipline.
“I come from a military family where discipline, it isn’t taught; it’s lived. It’s expected from Day One,: he said. “I have a philosophy that every player, every coach, everyone who works for this organization, they’ll know it from Day One. You’re not going to play for this team, you’re not going to work for this team if you don’t have the discipline and commitment to give us everything you have. No exceptions, no excuses.”
Rivera had been the Panthers’ coach since the 2011 season. He was the leader of the team when the Panthers put together their best season in franchise history in 2015. Carolina went 15-1 that year and made the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance with Cam Newton winning the NFL MVP award.
However, the Panthers went 6-10 the following season and only made the playoffs once between 2016 and 2019. Rivera was fired in the middle of the 2019 season and replaced by Perry Fewell, who was named interim head coach.
Rivera takes over a Washington team that is in flux.
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Washington fired team president Bruce Allen on Monday and will have to put someone in that position who is comfortable with Rivera being named the head coach.
The Redskins are coming off four straight seasons of missing the playoffs and the 2019 season was one of the worst in recent memory. Washington finished last in the division for the first time since 2014 with a 3-13 record and had a -169 point differential — the first time being in triple digits in that stat category since the 2014 season.
Rivera, a sound defensive mind, will have to figure out how to turn the Redskins back into a defensive force. Washington finished 27th in points and yards allowed. On offense, the team finished 32nd in points scored and 31st in yards gained.
Rivera will have Dwayne Haskins to work with at quarterback, though his rookie season wasn’t as impressive as the team probably hoped. But positives came from rookie wide receivers Terry McLaurin, who had 58 catches for 919 yards and seven touchdowns, and Steven Sims, who had 16 catches for 190 yards and four touchdowns in the final three games of the season.
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Washington is also lined up perfectly to select Chase Young in the 2020 draft to try and amplify the pass rush next to Matthew Ioannidis and Montez Sweat. Washington will also look to build on Landon Collins’ first season in burgundy and gold. He had 117 total tackles and two forced fumbles in 15 games.