Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback and Redskins legend Darrell Green always has something positive to say about his former team.
The Redskins are well into the 2020 offseason, and Green is known for looking on the bright side of things around this time of year. That dates all the way back to 2017 when the team lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to free agency, saying the team had built a level of stability "that will carry them through."
Almost three years later, Green again spoke confidently about the franchise at the 2020 NFL Honors. But this time, his optimism reached new heights.
This is the best situation the Redskins have been in since the 1991 Super Bowl season, Green declared, and it's all thanks to new head coach Ron Rivera and his vision.
"I believe in him," Green told Redskins.com staff writer Kyle Stackpole ahead of the award ceremony on Feb.1. "I like the man. He talked about [being successful] on the field and off the field, and we need that in Washington, D.C."
The Redskins immediately shifted their focus towards the future by hiring Rivera as their 30th head coach on New Year’s Day. That had been the plan for weeks, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder was regularly meeting with Rivera since he was first relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Ironically enough, Green and Rivera have a brief history together. Green's son, Jared, tried out for the Panthers in Rivera's second year with the team, and since then Green has always liked how the head coach handles himself and leads his players.
So, without any invitation or previous provocation, Green attended Rivera's introductory press conference to hear about where he plans to take the team in this new era."
"He said a lot of things that I was doing backflips about," Green said.
Rivera spoke about establishing a “player-centered culture” with a “coach-centered approach and only doing things that benefit the team. He told some of the players in attendance to "do it the way we ask" so the success will be theirs.
But Rivera also spoke of molding players to be great on and off the field, and that is what stuck out the most to Green.
"That's what is needed," Green said. "We need our team to be successful on the field. We need our men to be great off the field, and I don't think you can throw that away. I think that's important."
Green thinks that Rivera "fits the bill" as the kind of coach the Redskins need right now.
"I think the time is now," Green said. "I'm pulling for him, and I seriously believe it."
Green said Rivera brings an "old-school" strategy to the team, which he believes will work. That approach will, as he put it, "step on some toes," but he thinks that kind of pressure is a good thing, because then Rivera and his staff will figure who deserves to be on the roster.
"The big key is not that it creates ruffles," he said. "How will we respond to those ruffles? So there is some stuff still to do. But we've got to step on some toes first and shake some people up first across the board."
There are plenty of pieces on offense and defense for Rivera to work with. The team has four first-round picks on the defensive front seven in Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat. On offense, there's quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff and receiver Terry McLaurin.
"There's a good nucleus, but we don't know everything yet. I don't think [Rivera] knows everything yet," Green said. "But I think with him giving us stability and a strategy, I still go back and say this is the best I think we've been. I didn't say we're there; I said we're in the best situation to get going."
By "there," Green means being in a position to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy like the Redskins did in Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXVI in 1988 and 1992, respectively. Green was on both of those teams during his 20-year career in the burgundy and gold, so he knows what it's like to finish the season on top.
With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and plenty of young, talented players already on the roster, Green thinks the Redskins are in a good spot to start on that path. And with Rivera as their head coach, he has high expectations for his former team.
"The time is now," Green reiterated before saying, "Hopefully I won't be saying that again."