Ron Rivera made a lot of mistakes as the NFL head coach for the first time he hopes not to repeat this time around.
Rivera also did enough good things from the start with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 which he is trying to replicate now with Washington.
The new Redskins coach has made some big changes in free agency, but so far he’s focused more on incremental additions and subtractions to change the culture within the organization and build for the future.
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“We added pieces to the puzzle that we thought we needed: the guys who are going to enter, the guys who are hungry, they are going to compete,” said Rivera. “We feel good with the young people and we feel good with some of the veterans. We think it’s a good mix right now. “
Rivera found linebacker Thomas Davis to give the locker room an example of how to play and behave. He signed safety Sean Davis, cornerback Ronald Darby, ball carrier J.D. Mckissic and tight end Logan Thomas as players with something to prove.
They all got offers for one or two years.
“Many of them come and say, ‘Give me the opportunity to compete, prove myself, and then we’ll see,’ which I think is great,” said Rivera. “I love the fact that the guys are betting on themselves and going to come and prove that they belong and that they deserve an extended contract. This is what we are trying to do, it is (find) that suits us. And many of these guys were up for the challenge. “
Rivera also released the Montae Nicholson after two disturbing out-of-scope incidents in the past two years. He traded the disgruntled cornerback Quinton Dunbar in Seattle and may soon make a similar move with left forward Trent Williams.
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The 58-year-old, who guided the Panthers to the playoffs in his third season and the Super Bowl in his fifth, knows that Washington will not become a contender overnight. The first steps are to lay the positive foundation after the Redskins’ three-season losing streak.
“What we need is for everyone to come and understand what the vision is and that they must adhere to what the vision will be,” said Rivera. “Once they do that, it gives us a chance to succeed. “
Thomas Davis is on board after eight years with Rivera in Caroline. Practice has been a point of contention among Redskins players in recent seasons, and the 37-year-old expects that to change under Rivera.
“You have to make practice more difficult than playing,” said Davis. “This is something we have done under Coach Rivera for a long time, and it is illustrated. In Carolina we had very good teams, especially very good defenses because we got together, we worked hard, we knew we had good coaches and we joined the system. “
It will be a whole new defense system under the coordination of coordinator Jack Del Rio and attack with Scott Turner at the head of the series. But Rivera’s presence was a major factor in the decision of the free agents to sign with Washington.
“I respect the head coach and just think things could change here,” said Darby.
Rivera is delighted that so many new additions have asked the league to play for him and his assistants. McKissic, who should be Washington’s third defenseman due to his hobby and time as a receiver, spoke to Rivera himself and respected his honesty.
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In addition to locker room chemistry, McKissic said buying in the program distinguishes a winning team.
“(What) coaches put in front of you – do you really believe what they are saying to you and really love your coach,” he said.
Rivera immediately gains this confidence and he loves the team that he and his team are starting to build.
“I like the young core of players this team has added in the last three recoveries,” said Rivera. “I would like to add a little more to this core, then put them on the football field and see what happens. “