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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.

ASHBURN, VA -- November 11, 2020

On if he thought about facing former Washington RB Adrian Peterson again:

“You always think about that. No matter who you release, you always wonder if you’ll face him again. Again, everybody understands where we went with it because we had an opportunity to watch our young running backs develop and play. We’ve seen 41, [RB] J.D. McKissic, step into his role as we’ve seen [RB] Peyton Barber. Again, this move was really orchestrated in terms of finding out what we have in terms of our other young backs.”

On facing Peterson: “I’m never excited about playing against a future Hall of Famer, that’s for doggone sure.”

On Barber’s role on offense:

“Well, again, you look at the development of what we’ve got in front of him—[RB Antonio Gibson] AG. Antonio’s done a nice job in terms of his development, and probably has taken some reps that would’ve gone to him if Antonio hasn’t developed as he has. Secondly, you have to give J.D. McKissic some credit for this as well because he’s really developed nicely. It’s not against anything Peyton hasn’t done, we’ve just got a couple of guys that are a different kind of football player, a different kind of back.”

On QB Steven Montez’s development:

“I think it’s done very well. It’s kind of been fun to watch him. He’s a young quarterback. He’s got some athleticism to him. He’s got a very strong arm. He has the ability to make all kinds of throws. He’s got to work on his touch. He’s got a 90 mile-an-hour fast ball and an 89 mile-an-hour fast ball. There’s not a lot of difference in the way that he throws the ball, and he’s got to learn how to do that to help him. He’s very smart, bright. He spends the time studying and doing the things that you want young quarterbacks to do in terms of developing good habits. He’s kind of followed [QB] Kyle [Allen] and [QB] Alex [Smith] around a lot. I think a little bit is rubbing off on him. It’s been good to watch him. We felt we had to protect him just in case something happened to one of our two guys that are practicing now. You have a guy that’s ready to go. We’ll see what happens, but that was really just a security move more than it was anything else.”

On considering bringing in another quarterback:

“I’m comfortable with Montez being the third guy if needed right now. If that need changes, we’ll see most certainly. But right now, we feel pretty confident and comfortable with the two guys that are up right now with both Alex and [QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] Going forward, if need be, we might have to do something. Right now, we’re pretty confident with the three guys we have.”

On if he holds his breath when Smith is in:

“I don’t know. I didn’t think about it last week as much as I did the first week, so we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes this week. But, yeah, I guess in the back of your mind you do think about it.”

On Smith’s ability to escape:

“I saw pretty much some good mobility. Again, you’d like to see him get rid of the ball a little bit quicker when he does get out of the pocket, that’s for sure.”

On T Cornelius Lucas:

“I think he’s done a great job. I do. Right now, with [T] Geron [Christian Sr.] banged up, Cornelius is going to continue to play. We’ll address everything as we go forward. He’s done a nice job, he really has. Big, long arms, smart, understands the game and has got good athleticism at the left tackle position for you.”

On RB Bryce Love at practice today:

“You see the quickness is still there. It was good to see him out on the practice field running around. You saw his quickness; you saw his burst. He showed some good hands out of the backfield as well. It was good to see him out there.”

On Love’s role moving forward:

“Yeah, you most certainly do see a role for him. Again, it’s one of those things where you have to go back to his college days and look what they did when he was at Stanford as a running back. They ran him up inside. They ran him outside because of his quickness and speed. They didn’t use him in the passing game as much, which was a little bit of a surprise because he’s got good hands and he’s got some return ability as far as a kickoff returner. It’ll be interesting to watch him develop and grow. It’s good to have him back on the football field.”

On where the linebackers need to improve:

“The biggest thing is to get them to understand where their role is and how to play their role. I think our linebackers are still kind of feeling their way around. Personally, I think that they’ve got to get past that. That’s how I feel about it and that’s just the way I see it.”

On what he wants to see from the linebackers:

“I’d like for them to play better and be more productive.”

On how this week of practice will help Smith:

“Let’s really look at how he played. To me, the common consensus is he played pretty well with the exception of the last two interceptions. Those were plays that he tried to force as opposed to trying to take what he would’ve gotten if they had been normal downs. Again, he played pretty doggone well. Now, I think knowing the practice reps that he’s going to get, knowing the opportunity to not just look at it on paper—look at it on film—and to get the practice reps, yeah, the common consensus is he should play better. But, how much better going forward? Again, over 200 yards of passing offense, two touchdown passes, I believe. I’m not sure if judging him on those last two interceptions was fair.”

On determining if a franchise quarterback is on the roster:

“Well, it’s like this—when I was in Carolina, we drafted Cam Newton and Cam started. He started to grow and develop, and you started to get very comfortable that this was going to be the guy. You just kept working with him, kept working with him, kept seeing his growth, kept seeing his growth, kept seeing his growth. You saw him do the things that it took. I think, again, as we go forward with our quarterbacks, we have to see growth. We have to see improvement. We have to see consistency, in my opinion. Again, I’m just looking back on trying to recall the things that drove us in that direction with Cam Newton. That’s probably the thing that I’m looking at more so than anything else. I sit down with our quarterback coach and our offensive coordinator and we talk about our quarterbacks and I listen to them describe the things that they’re doing, the things that they’re not doing. It kind of leaves certain thoughts in my mind as we’re going forward.”

On what makes for a franchise quarterback:

“Well, I think looking at the guys that I’ve been around my entire career. Again, the first real time with Donovan McNabb and watching us make the commitment to him, watching Andy Reid develop him and having him grow and see him become that guy. They got him to a Super Bowl. Then going to Chicago and watching guys that were on the cusp of being one, I never really thought we had a guy that was going to go over the top. Then going to San Diego and watching a guy like Philip [Rivers] who played consistent, who had a certain style, a certain way of doing things that seemed to permeate through this teammates on the offensive side and even catch up on some of the defensive guys, you saw that. Then going to Carolina and seeing how Cam grew and developed and always seemed to have an upward trend in his development, you could see his growth and his consistency in his play. It took a while. But, to me, there was always that upward trend. You just felt that this guy had that ability and what it took to be the next guy.”

On how offensive coordinator Scott Turner utilizes running backs:

“I know this, afterward when I’ve talked to a couple coaches that we’ve played, one thing they’ve talked about is the multi-dimension aspect that we have with our backs. They really talked about AG and J.D. in terms of their abilities and their ability to run inside, run outside, and their ability to catch the football.”

On a franchise quarterback developing a mentality:

“It’s going to take a little bit of time. I wasn’t with Philip Rivers in his first couple years. I was there I think in his third year. As I said, it took time. If you watched Cam, in his third year it really took off. As we go through this process right now, we’re going to watch our guys and we’re going to see if our guys are developing and see what’s going to happen. We’ve got time right now. We’ll see.”

On LB Thomas Davis Sr. not practicing today:

“Today was one of those days. It was a little cool and wintery. We were inside on the turf. It was one of those things where you have to watch out for one of your older veteran guys.”

On his message to veterans on Veterans Day:

“Just that I want them all to know that they’re appreciated by us. I appreciate the many veterans that I have as friends. I wanted to wish as many as I could a happy Veterans Day. I haven’t talked to my dad yet. I probably will a little bit later this afternoon when things settle down. It’s a very special day. I did do the ‘V salute’ to my father that the USAA does. I think it’s kind of a neat program, so it was an opportunity to send out that message. I think this is a day that we can’t ever forget. We’ve got to make sure that we honor these folks.”

On if the lack of fans contributes to road teams winning more this year:

“That could be it. Again, the home field advantage isn’t what it used to be when you don’t have 75 or 80,000 people screaming at you. It does take on a whole different atmosphere. Whether that’s it or not, that seems to be one of the good reasons why.”

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