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Five takeaways from Josh Harris' end of season press conference

01082024 Harris End of Season Presser KC49357

Washington Commanders Managing Partner Josh Harris addressed the media earlier today about parting ways with Ron Rivera as the head coach, the future of the franchise and more. Here are five takeaways from the press conference, presented by Maryland Lottery.

1. Why Harris chose Bob Myers and Rick Spielman?

Not long after it was initially reported that Rivera had been relieved of his duties, Harris released a statement announcing that he intends to lead a search committee dedicated to finding the right person to lead the franchise. The list includes members of the ownership group like Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Mitch Rales and David Blitzer, but Harris also named former general managers Bob Myers and Rick Spielman.

The reasoning: Myers and Spielman are proven winners with decades of experience in building successful franchises.

Myers, who first joined the Golden State Warriors as an assistant general manager in 2011, was promoted to the general manager role after only a year on the job. He went on to build one of the best rosters in the NBA, winning four championships behind Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in addition to finding players to support and elevate them. Myers won NBA Executive of the Year in 2015 and 2017 for how he shaped the Warriors' roster with acquisitions like Kevin Durant, David West and Javale McGee.

"Bob Myers is a winner," Harris said. "Who wouldn't want him on your team trying to help your franchise? He knows how to identify talent. He knows how to build winning franchises, winning cultures."

As for Spielman, Harris said the former Minnesota Vikings general manager brings "a wealth of knowledge." Spielman has worked for four franchises and been a general manager for two. With the Vikings, Spielman drafted several cornerstones that held up the football team for several years. He brought in electrifying offensive talents like Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, but he also drafted role players like Toby Gerhart and Kyle Rudolph that rounded out the roster.

"He was Executive of the Year with the Vikings...and kind of brings that football knowledge that you need when you're interviewing candidates."

2. A thorough, but rapid process.

Harris, the ownership group and the search committee aren't taking the path to finding a new head coach and head of football operations lightly. These are important positions, Harris said, and he wants to make sure they are given the proper amount of time and attention.

Harris also knows there isn't much time to waste. The Senior Bowl, the unofficial "start" of the draft process, begins in less than a month, and there's plenty of draft capital and cap space to work with to craft a new roster. Free agency and the draft are months away but approaching quickly.

So, Harris wants to have a "thorough, but rapid" process in the weeks to come.

"Obviously, we need the next leadership here, because we've got a lot of work to do," Harris said.

That work has already begun in earnest. Reports have emerged of the Commanders requesting interviews for several candidates for the head coach and head of football operations roles. The best candidates usually have alternatives, Harris said, but he also believes the Commanders are an attractive destination.

"From my point of view, we are coming out of this poised for a great future," Harris said. "We've got a lot of draft capital, a lot of cap space, and I'm lucky enough to be supported by an amazing ownership group.

"This is probably one of the most important jobs I have as a Managing Partner. It's important that I do this personally and we get this right and we bring in the right leadership."

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders during their Week 18 game against the Dallas Cowboys. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

3. He wants a head of football operations in place before making final head coach decisions.

Although both hiring processes for head coach and head of football operations will happen concurrently, Harris has a vision for how he would like things to unfold. He would like to have a head of football operations in place before naming a head coach.

Once that head of football operations is in place, Harris plans to "listen very hard to what that person wants to do."

"I think those two things have to work together," Harris said of the positions.

That doesn't mean that Harris would give the job of finding a new head coach to the head of football operations once that person is hired. He wants to be involved in the process and hold them accountable. At the same time, that's part of what Harris will hire that person to do. He expects the new head of football operations to bring a list of candidates they would want to work with to build a new roster. 

Either way, Harris wants the two positions to be separate but working towards a common goal.

"There are certainly individuals that control everything," Harris said. "I think it's increasingly hard. So, my orientation is not to do that, but on the other hand, I'm gonna really be somewhat flexible on talent."

4. He wants to take the right steps toward creating a championship franchise.

Harris made his intentions clear from the moment he stepped up to the podium for the first time last July. He wants to turn the Commanders into a championship franchise, and he's willing to take the necessary steps to get there.

He also knows that takes time.

"Obviously, if we could write the script, it would be a quick turnaround," Harris said. "But on the other hand, you have to make long term decisions and do things one percent at a time, one athlete at a time. Sometimes, they take longer."

That goes back to Harris and the ownership group's goal of creating an elite franchise. Several teams have had temporary success, but organizations like the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers are in Super Bowl contention because they take their time to make the right decisions.

"I find that when you do things quickly, sometimes you set yourself back," Harris said. "And so, my orientation is to make the right decisions and let the timeframe take its own course. I mean, obviously, I want a winning franchise quickly, but on the other hand, for me it's about making the right decisions."

So, while Harris knows how short the time frame is for him to find answers, fans can take solace that he isn't going to do anything rash. He's going to collect the information, evaluate it and choose what he thinks is best for the organization. That might take longer, but the reward at the end is worth it.

5. A message to the fan base.

The 2023 season was hard on everyone, and that includes the ownership group. Harris said "we're right there with the fans in terms of sweating every loss," and as someone who grew up loving the team, he knows how frustrating it can be for fans to watch Washington struggle on the field.

So, Harris took some time to thank the fans, and promise that improvement is coming.

"You guys showed up in droves, you believed in us," Harris said. "We sold out every game, even with a four-win season. Now granted, there were a few visiting fans there, but that's on us, we're not in the playoffs. So, thank you for showing up."

And despite how the season ended, Harris sees a path towards the ultimate goal of being one of the league's best organizations.

"The future is bright, we have a lot of cap space, we have a great ownership group, we're very committed to winning for this city, and look forward to showing you, in addition to telling you, over the next series of years."

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