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Multiple Teams Express Interest in Ron Rivera as Two-Time Head Coach States No Plans to Retire

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Ron Rivera‘s second coaching stint did not go as well as his first. Washington did not finish over .500 in any of his four seasons, and the well-liked HC once again found himself on the outs after a new owner took over.

The former Panthers HC became one of the easiest firings to predict in many years, with Josh Harris allowing him to fire DC Jack Del Rio and coach out the season. Unlike Frank Reich, who is likely to retire, Rivera wants to coach again. After spending the past 13 seasons as a head coach, Rivera said he has options for 2024.

An HC path does not appear to exist for Rivera, but the 62-year-old coach said (via ESPN.com’s John Keim) he has “several opportunities” but is determining the right one. Rivera confirmed he has spoken with multiple teams, but with seven clubs still searching for head coaches, it is still early in terms of staff openings. No HC or coordinator interview requests have come in for Rivera yet, but plenty of opportunities will soon open up. A senior defensive assistant-type role also could be in the cards.

Before Rivera became a head coach, he spent time as a defensive coordinator. He attracted HC interest after overseeing the Chargers’ defense from 2008-10; the ’10 unit ranked first overall. An ex-Bears linebacker, Rivera worked as Lovie Smith‘s DC from 2004-06, finishing out his second Chicago tenure in Super Bowl XLI. Rivera has been an NFL coach since 1997, beginning his run as a position coach in Andy Reid‘s first Eagles season (1999). Ex-Rivera coordinators Sean McDermott and Steve Wilks reside in prominent positions as well, forming potential landing spots.

Rivera received considerable power in Washington. The team gave him personnel authority to start his tenure, not hiring a GM for a year after its HC hire. Del Rio called defensive signals throughout his tenure, however, leaving Rivera as a CEO coach. Washington has since proceeded to prioritize its president of football operations position, which went to Adam Peters. Rivera prefers the GM-centric model Harris and Co. have launched.

I would’ve loved a different model just because, in hindsight, now you really see how much more time you spend on personnel and as a coach, that’s not necessarily what you want to do,” Rivera said, via Keim. “What I really enjoyed more than anything else the last five weeks was just being right in the middle of everything. Now your only focus is just that one thing. That’s what you do; you want to teach.”

Regarding the Commanders’ on-field approach, Rivera second-guessed his Sam Howell strategy. The Commanders heaped praise upon the 2022 fifth-round pick during the ’23 offseason, starting it last January. Rivera proceeded this way despite the North Carolina alum effectively redshirting as a rookie before playing in the season finale. While Rivera still views Howell as a starter-caliber QB, he regrets anointing him early. That made it rather easy to predict the winner of the faux competition that formed between Howell and free agent pickup Jacoby Brissett.

I took a big gamble. I put a lot on Sam, and I probably shouldn’t have put as much pressure on him, and I think that was probably one of the mistakes I made this year,” Rivera said. “He didn’t deserve to have that put on him. He’s a good young quarterback, has some talent and some ability and I think that’s something I should have backed off on.

I should have kept emphasizing he was going to be the guy that got the first opportunity … just phrasing it that way would’ve taken a lot of pressure off of him, just kind of that he hadn’t been anointed.”

Howell’s starter season produced Washington’s first wire-to-wire QB starter since Kirk Cousins in 2017, but a lengthy losing streak secured the 4-13 Commanders the No. 2 overall pick. It should be expected the team will look closely into this year’s QB class, with mock drafts already sending Howell’s Tar Heels successor — Drake Maye — to the nation’s capital.

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