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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 [10]

VS Los Angeles Rams [30]

ASHBURN, VA -- October 12, 2020

On his conversation with QB Kyle Allen after yesterday’s game:

“We had a good conversation about that. I told him: ‘As long as you’re feeling well’—I know he was pretty sore, he’ll be even more sore today—but, ‘As long as you’re feeling well and ready to roll on Wednesday, he’s our starter.’”

On the defensive breakdown on the Rams 56-yard touchdown:

”Well, we were in our Cover 2 coverage and [S] Landon [Collins] was the half defender. [CB] Kendall [Fuller] was the flat defender. He was supposed to jam and widen him. He did widen him. It looked like Landon had a bad angle. It looked like he did break, but I thought his break was flat. I’d like to see him climb a little bit more on that break. That’s what it looked like to me.”

On speaking with QB Alex Smith:

“I did. I had an opportunity afterward, I spent a little bit of time with him in the locker room. He felt good. I was pleased. I was excited for him. He went out and had a good time. It would’ve been a lot better if we could’ve protected a little bit more. But, I thought he handled it well. I thought he made some good decisions. He made quick decisions, he got the ball out of his hands. It was tough. You’re playing from behind, and the other team knows it. They change their approach, and that’s tough. I thought he handled it very well. We’ll see how he is. I bet he’s going to be sore, but it’ll be a good kind of sore.”

On if G Brandon Scherff will practice this week:

“We’ll see. I think he had a good couple of days last week. We’ll see how he is today, tomorrow and Wednesday and we’ll make a determination as we get into the week.”

On if he saw the offense make a jump after the quarterback change this week:

“I thought I saw it. I thought the scoring drive that Kyle led us on was good. I thought he made good decisions. He delivered a good ball for the most part. Unfortunately, the next time we got another drive going he got knocked out of the game. But, again, it’s what we’re looking for. He managed it well. We’ll see how things go if he’s healthy and ready to roll Wednesday and see how it goes this week.”

On why he kept Smith in the game:

“Because I think Alex is a more than capable quarterback. I really do. Again, it was a very difficult set of circumstances to be put into. To be playing from behind when you’re playing a very aggressive, good defense, especially led by [Rams DT] Aaron Donald—to me, that’s the tough part. I don’t know how much different it would’ve been if I had gone back to Kyle. But, I didn’t want to see Kyle take another shot like that. Again, that’s why I made the decision to go the direction that I did.”

On if Allen will start this week:

“As of now, yes. Unless I’m told anything different come Wednesday morning, that’s the way I look at it.”

On establishing the run game:

“It’s difficult when you, again, get behind. We had some struggles on the defensive side. If you look at the flow of the game and look at the way the game was, it’s hard to establish the run when you can’t get a foothold going when you’re behind. It’s difficult, and that’s exactly what happened in my opinion. I don’t disagree with the way the game was called for us. We struggled because of the situation.”

On judging Smith’s ability to escape in the rain:

“Yeah, I thought it was because you saw some pretty good movement. You saw him get away a couple times, get into position. It was hard. Again, go back to—I just got done watching the tape, too—you watch the things that they did and the situation we were in, it’s very difficult to have success in that type of situation.”

On seeing Smith take hits and escaping hits:

“I think they’re both things that were good to see. I didn’t want to see it, but they were good things to see.”

On QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s future:

“I see him doing what he did on Friday. I know Wednesday and Thursday were difficult days for him. I get that. But, Friday he came in, was attentive in the meetings, did a nice job coming out to practice, did his mimicking in terms of standing back and watching, going through some of his actions, watching the plays. That’s what I expect, for him to continue to learn and grow. As we continue to get into this and we get further down the road, who knows what’s going to happen? But, that’s what the expectation is. It’s no different from the expectation of any other player, and that’s to be in the meetings, learning, studying, being at practice, learning and studying, participating. That’s what I expect of all of our players.”

On the team’s mindset:

“Disappointed. But, let’s look at who we lost to. Everybody that we lost to has a winning record. We’re playing good football teams. That’s the big thing, and that’s what we’re working to be is one of those kinds of teams. I think there’s huge disappointment because we had some opportunities. Defensively, there were some third downs that we didn’t stop them on. The players know that. Offensively, we had some plays where we didn’t quite make it and we didn’t convert. That’s the disappointment. We didn’t play up front as well as we would’ve liked to offensively. There are some things that we have to work on, we have to get shored up, and we have to get better at. Again, the disappointment is that we didn’t play better. That to me is a positive because the players know that.”

On the free safety position:

“Well, I’ll have to sit down and talk with the defensive coaches and see how they feel and the direction they want to go with that.”

On Smith completing his comeback:

“I think it’s a pretty cool thing, I really do. I’m happy for him that he had the opportunity to go out there and do it. I’m also glad to see that he’s capable of doing it because he gives us another viable option at quarterback. For anybody that’s struggling with anything in life, that’s a great example. You look at a guy like Alex and you look at what he’s gone through the last couple years, not just for him but for his family. I thought that was really cool to see his wife and kids cheering the way they did. I wish we could’ve given them more to cheer about. I wish we could’ve played better as a football team.”

On where the defense needs to improve on third down:

“Again, to me it’s when you have something, when you have a job to do, do your job. Understand what your job is. That seems to be a little bit of a problem right now, that some guys don’t understand how to play with leverage. By that, we mean knowing where your help is. If your help is inside, then you should play your guy outside the end. If your help is outside, then you should play your guy inside to out. Sometimes it looks like we’re not where we need to be, and that’s the frustrating part because I see that’s something that the coaches are working on, something that the players are practicing, but we’ve got to take what we’re being taught, what we’re doing and transfer that from the practice field to the game field and go out and execute. From our perspective as coaches, we’ve got to take a look at what we’re calling and say: ‘OK, is what we’re doing the best thing? Are we giving them an opportunity to be successful?’ We have to look at it, too, and say: ‘Maybe we can’t do those things. Maybe we need to do something different.’ That’s all part of the evaluation that we will go through. We’ll self-scout. We’ll look at those things and say: ‘You know what, maybe we’re better off with those things.’ We’ve got some work to do, obviously. It’s not going to be easy. I didn’t expect this coming in. But, again, we’ve got three more games left in this quarter. These three games are games that I think we have to take the approach that we can win. We have to play them one at a time and see what happens.”

On competition in the secondary:

“I’d like to see a little bit more of that. I don’t mind the competition because I think it makes everybody better. But, I do want to see consistency in our play. We’ve done some really good things, we’ve made some plays, but we don’t sustain success. We get them into a third-and-long and we have a chance to come downhill and make a break on the ball—and it was a terrific break—but unfortunately we got there early and we got a penalty and it was first down. If we get there early, we should make a play on the ball. If we make a play on the ball, they’re punting. Again, those are the kinds of things we have to be better at because we have to sustain the success. You stop them on first down, you get them into second-and-long, now all of a sudden it’s third-and-long, we don’t convert—that’s not sustained success. That’s not consistency. We’ve got to get better at that on both sides of the ball.”

On positive plays from Allen:

“You can say the scramble for the touchdown was one of those plays. But, I’m trying to remember exactly the play—he stood tall in the pocket and delivered a really good throw through the middle for a conversion. That’s what you’re looking for. That’s what you want. He did a good job with that. Again, to me, you could say the scramble for the touchdown because he saw man coverage, he saw the defenders had their backs turned, and he knew it was an opportunity to tuck the ball and run. That was a good decision on his part.”

On punting on fourth-and-1:

“It was a long fourth-and-1. If it had been a little bit inside, we could’ve gone for it. It was right around the 40- yard line. I did think about it. That’s why I asked them to measure it, so I could see it. It was a little bit longer than I appreciated. I did go for it on another fourth-and-1, and obviously it was incomplete. So, it’s those situations where you look at it and, I don’t know. It was a little bit longer than I would’ve appreciated.”

On if Allen got checked for a concussion:

“From my understanding, they actually did check him just to make sure, just to be careful.”

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