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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 -- December 2, 2020

On the postponement of the Steelers game:

“It hasn’t changed much as far as our approach. We’re going to approach it as if we’re getting ready for Pittsburgh. We’re going to focus in on the things we need to do to give ourselves the opportunity to win a football game. I told the guys they’ve got to stay fluid and just got to be ready to handle anything that changes and anything that moves. Let’s not make a big deal about it. Again, the focus is really to play the game.”

On preparing for a short week between the Steelers and 49ers games:

“No, we won’t worry about that game until we get to that week.”

On the interior of the defensive line:

“I think we’re still learning and growing. I do like what we’re getting from them. They’re physical up front. They’re learning to get vertical and into that crease. They’re learning how to play through it. There’s a little bit more to it than just being a big body up front. Those guys—[DT] Daron [Payne], [DT] Jonathan [Allen], [DT] Timmy [Settle]—I think those guys really give us something special. They’re a good group. They do miss [DT] Matt Ioannidis. When we have everybody up there up front, I think we are pretty formidable.”

On teaching the majority of the defensive line new technique:

“It’s very different. This is a group of guys that were taught to two-gap, to really take a guy right down the middle. We’re trying to teach these guys to play in a crease. We’re trying to get these guys used to play doubles and trying to hold or split those doubles. It’s an important aspect to this defense, and I think as these guys continue to work at it and get better and better, I think our defense will get better and better.”

On G Brandon Scherff:

“I really like what we’re getting from him. I think he’s done a great job. He really has. It doesn’t matter who he lines up next to, he’s a great communicator. I think that’s as important as it gets. He does a great job. He and [C] Chase Roullier are really good together in terms of their combinations. Watching them with [T] Morgan [Moses] has been really cool. He’s helped [T] David Sharpe really nicely. He’s helped David out a lot. I think when you have a guy like that it really doesn’t matter who you put next to him. He’s going to be able to communicate and get things worked out, and that’s what he’s shown us.”

On playing in a hostile environment on the road:

“Going into a hostile environment, really it’s about if you keep your focus on the game and not worry about the environment more so than anything else. People get caught up in those notions, and sometimes they worry way too much. One of the things I’ve always felt is that sometimes when you get ready for an opponent, coaches spend way too much time worrying about how great the opponent is. Hell, before you know it you scare the crap out of your team. So, again, the focus is really about them, about yourself, as opposed to worrying about the opponent too much. Yeah, you attack what the opponent does and then you go from there. Whether you’re going into a hostile environment or not, let’s keep the focus on playing the game, showing up and playing the game.”

On his relationship with Vice President of Personnel Kyle Smith:

“I think it’s pretty good. We work through the things that we need to work through, and that’s probably the biggest thing. If something comes up, we’ll communicate it. If not, there’s not much else to communicate. We’ll just continue to work on the things we’re working on as far as being out there practicing with the guys and we’re getting ready for our next game. Kyle and his guys are watching tape and getting ready for free agency and the draft.”

On Smith’s role moving forward:

“I think he’s done a nice job for us. Again, as we continue to go forward, I think the big thing more so than anything else is we’ve got to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

On scouting WR Terry McLaurin out of college in Carolina:

“We looked at Terry. We did. He was somebody that we did like. He was on our board. If we had the opportunity, we would’ve taken him right after Washington took him, to be honest. Taking him here was very beneficial for us now. I believe we had pretty much the same type of grade that this organization had on him.”

On where McLaurin has made strides:

“Oh yeah, on his route running. That was always one of the things. One of the things that you saw with Terry was Terry ran routes, but the one thing you saw him do, though, was he ran a lot of the jet sweep stuff. You always wondered what kind of true route runner he was, and that was always one of the concerns. If he were coming out now, he’s definitely a first-round pick.”

On the Steelers-Ravens Wednesday afternoon game:

“I will watch it. Every now and then when you watch something on TV, you get something. The announcers say something that makes sense, something they’ve heard or something they’ve seen. So, that’s why you always try to go back and watch the TV copy, especially in a big game. By that I mean a Monday night, a Thursday night, a Wednesday afternoon. You listen for something, and something always comes through.”

On the salary cap being lower next year:

“It’s going to be interesting. It really is. The teams that don’t have cap space are going to have to find it or let some players go. Those that don’t have cap space are going to have to make some good decisions because there are going to be a lot of guys that are going to be available.”

On if the team will watch the Steelers-Ravens game:

“Players will be focused in on their meetings. It’s kind of a part of the situation we’re in now because we have to meet virtually. We can’t bring them in right away and get done right away so they can go home and watch it right away. They’ll probably end up having to watch it tomorrow, or later tonight if it’s replayed.”

On if he is concerned about his players with rising COVID-19 cases throughout the league:

“Well, what’s going to happen is those guys will continue to test and we’ll see. Am I concerned? Absolutely I’m concerned. Again, it’s what’s happening. We’ve just got to pay attention. We’ve got to pay attention to the protocols. We’ve got to do everything that we’re supposed to be doing. Hopefully, the testing is good enough so it protects us all. We’ve got to hope that or we’re not going to be able to play games and you guys aren’t going to be able to show the games and you guys won’t have anything to talk about.”

On DT Jonathan Allen’s charitable efforts with children in foster care:

“From what I’ve gotten to know about Jonathan, he’s a very sincere guy and a very hardworking guy. I didn’t know about his work with foster care, but I think that’s outstanding. I really do. The opportunity to give back to the community is very important. I’ve always said that the one thing that we’ve got to do as players is making sure we give back to the communities that are supporting us and cheering for us. I think that’s truly important.”

On testing QB Alex Smith in the upcoming games:

“Yeah, everything’s a test. Every week is a test. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not just a test for him, it’s a test for us. It’s a test for our football team, and we’ll find out.”

On the importance of an opponent’s last game when studying tape:

“It’s really important. What’s going to be important also is the style of defense that plays, too. Baltimore plays a different style of defense compared to our style, so I’m not sure how much of that tape will be good for our defense and vice versa in terms of our offense. It really depends on what kind of offense Baltimore rolls out there because, again, if there are no similarities, you’re really just watching the individuals that are playing opposed to the schemes. It would be really very valuable if they were playing Baltimore’s offense and it was very similar to us and their defense is very similar to us.”

On if there was a moment he realized what he had with RB Antonio Gibson:

“Gosh, I don’t know if we can really say we exactly know what we have. I think we know what we are potentially getting. That’s what’s exciting is the possibilities. There have been a lot of great moments so far already where you say: ‘Wow, that’s pretty good.’ At the same time, to say we know what the finished product is going to be right now is a little premature. Is the potential there? Most certainly. Has he shown us things that get you excited? Absolutely. Again, I’ll continue to say this, right now I compare his running style to Arian Foster. I like who the young man can be for us. I like the way he runs the ball. He’s got good body lean when he runs. He’s got the step to speed to burst and he’s got good vision. He’s learning to be the kind of runner that we hope he can be for us. His skillset of catching the ball in the backfield we really haven’t gotten to, either.”

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