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Interview: Washington Football Coach Ron Rivera

Every week All-Pro Reels will bring you day by day coverage of the Washington Football team through the eyes, ears and lenses of our content creators.

Washington Football Team (1-3)

vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

October 11, 2020 - FedExField - 1:00 PM

ASHBURN, VA -- October 8, 2020

On DE Chase Young’s limited participation in practice:

“His movement was good. He moved around, did some good things. We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning.”

On QB Alex Smith backing up QB Kyle Allen:

“Because we’re working Alex back into it. Alex hasn’t gotten a lot of snaps in the last few weeks as the third guy. So, the obvious progression to me is to go with the guy that’s been getting snaps.”

On QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s work ethic:

“No, there’s no reason to comment on that. We talked all about that yesterday. Actually, the nice thing to do would be to talk about the game on Sunday. Again, enough is enough. I thought we hashed that out pretty good yesterday.”

On evaluating the NFC East:

“It’s one of those years I’m surprised. I look at the schedule by quarters and say: ‘Gosh, if we can be in this position here going into the second quarter, this is what we’re looking at. Now if we’re in this position going into the third quarter, this is what I’d love to have.’ Again, being in this situation is a little bit of a surprise. Because of it, I made the decision that I did. Like I said, we’re going forward now guys.”

On if this divisional situation has happened to him a lot in the past:

“No. It has not happened a lot in the past. The last time it happened like this was 2014.”

On the quarterback rotation:

“This will be a game-by-game situation. I think Kyle goes in and he’ll do the things he can and do the best he can and we’ll go from there. Again, as I said, this quarter is an interesting four-game stretch.”

On how the defense can improve:

“I think one of the things that we have to be better at is our third-down situation. I think we’ve been very average on third down. We can improve and be better. You’ve got to be better at first and second down, too, but our third down really isn’t as good as I think [defensive coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] would like it to be.”

On facing Rams DT Aaron Donald:

“Well, you’ve got to approach basically what they do and then who’s there. The thing about Aaron Donald is he’s special. You’ve got to be able to account for him.” On preparing for Donald: “Well, you have to account for wherever he is.”

On Smith’s progression:

“I’ve been impressed with it. Again, knowing that he’s been cleared to play and then watching him working, especially the last couple weeks, has been outstanding. I just have no trepidation having him come in and play if that’s what happens.”

On RB Antonio Gibson’s growth process:

“It’s a steep curve. It’s a big curve, excuse me. [Running backs coach] Randy Jordan who’s played in this league and understands and gets it—I think Randy’s one of those perfect fits for coaching a young guy. I think Antonio will learn a lot from him. Really it’s just learning to do what comes naturally to him, and that’s run. He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s a heck of a football player with the ball in his hands, which we’ve seen. It’s just a matter of learning and understanding when he’s got the ball behind the line of scrimmage, how to press a hole, how to hit a hole in a certain direction, how to plant off that and how to anticipate certain things opening up. Those are the things that Randy’s trying to teach him and trying to get him to have a feel for.”

On using a golf cart during practice:

“Well, just having it out there gives me a chance to stay off my feet and take a little bit of a break at times.”

On what he wants to see from the defense against the Rams:

“I think the biggest thing is really be good on first and second down and getting them into third-and-long where their play action passing becomes ineffective. We’ve got to stop the run initially. We’ve got to be really good with their misdirection passing game. They run a lot of sideway actions to get you going one direction then the quarterback comes out the other edge. We really have to be good with shutting the run down then containing the quarterback and keeping him between the tackles.”

On Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell’s offense:

“Well, I think when you look at it it’s really the things that they’re doing that they’ve done. There might be a wrinkle or two in it, but this really is about the things that they’ve done in the past.”

On Allen being an underdog throughout his career:

“Kyle is a little bit of an underdog. The thing about him is he’s very smart, a very headsy football player. He’s got good athleticism. He’s got a good arm—not quite the arm that some have, but he makes good decisions. He’s a game manager. He has the ability for the big strike. He’s got a good vision. The thing that he does is if he takes what’s given to him and manages the game, he can be very, very efficient.”

On bringing Allen to Carolina:

“Again, I knew of him. I knew a little bit of his background. When we signed him as an undrafted free agent, we got a little bit more of a chance to look at it. The thing that stuck out in my mind about him was without a lot of reps, he knew what was happening. That was ideal because young guys typically don’t get a lot of reps. I was really impressed with the way he played in the 2018 preseason finale against Pittsburgh. Again, didn’t get a lot of reps, and played three quarters of that game and was very efficient. We kept him around. We let him go for what was a guy that had a little bit more of a pedigree, and realized this guy was nothing close to what we had in terms of the backup Kyle could be for us. We brought Kyle back. Low and behold, he plays a little bit against Atlanta and the next week he starts against New Orleans and we end up winning that game. He played very, very well. Then fast forward into 2019, Cam Newton gets hurt so we IR Cam and he starts for us, starts for me and wins six games. He’s one of those very efficient guys that if he can stay within himself and do the things he’s capable of and go through his progressions, he can move the ball systematically for you. He’s got that kind of ability. He’s kind of a game manager with some big-play ability.”

On what he learned about Allen’s mentality:

“Things like that don’t faze him. He’s always steady. He’s always the same guy. He’s very smart, very headsy, very well-prepared. He’s tough as nails. He doesn’t say much. He just goes about his business. He’s very professional.”

On Allen’s leadership:

“Again, I thought he was very efficient in practice. I thought that the guys got behind him. He’s not a ‘rah-rah’ guy as much as he’s: ‘Come on, let’s go get them, let’s go do these things.’ He’s not quite Alex Smith in terms of that type of stuff. But, he’s a lead-by-example guy, he’s a guy that will mix it up a little bit if he has to.”

On the quarterback room:

“Every time I’ve been in the quarterback room they’ve all been in it together. My biggest experience, obviously, is back in Carolina when Cam Newton was around, just watching how he interacted with the other guys. It’s no different than any other room, and I mean that. They sit around, they watch tape, they talk about what they see, they talk about how the game plan rolls, they talk about how the game plan fits. They talk about, hey, somebody might have an idea and ask somebody what they think about that. The dynamic is really they’re just like any other position group, I believe.”

On what the quarterback competition would have looked like with a full offseason:

“I think all three of those guys would’ve embraced it. That’s the hard part about it. I made a conscious decision that I was going to give Dwayne every opportunity. For seven weeks, he took every snap with the ones into four weeks into the regular season as well. I was trying to see if we could create something, and at the same time with an eye on going forward, I didn’t expect the circumstances to be this way going into the second quarter of the season. It’s interesting, but I would’ve loved to see the competition. I would’ve loved to see the opportunity between all three guys. But unfortunately we didn’t have those circumstances.”

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