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Five Things To Know About New Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera


Rivera, 57, is a former NFL linebacker who spent the past nine seasons as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. During his tenure, he led the Panthers to four playoff appearances, three NFC South division titles and an appearance in Super 50 after going 15-1 during the 2015 regular season.

A detailed rundown of Rivera's NFL coaching career and accomplishments can be found, HERE. Below are five more things fans should know about the Redskins' lead man.

1. Rivera is a Redskins' first defensive-minded head coach since 2001.

After playing nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, Rivera began his NFL coaching career there a few years later as a defensive quality control coach. From there, he spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles (linebackers coach), Bears (defensive coordinator) and then-San Diego Chargers (linebackers coach and defensive coordinator). His first head coaching gig came with the Panthers in 2011.

Rivera will be the Redskins' first defensive-minded head coach since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer led the franchise to an 8-8 record in his lone season. Richie Petitbon also had a defensive background, but he too lasted just one year (1993).

To find the last defensive-minded coach who stayed in Washington for multiple seasons, you have to go all the way back to George Allen, who led the Redskins to five playoff appearances and an overall record of 67-30-1 from 1971-1977.

2. Hall of Famer John Madden greatly influenced Rivera and his coaching style.

According to a 2016 Bleacher Report story, Rivera first met Hall of Fame coach John Madden as a 15-year-old in 1977.

The interaction was the start of a burgeoning relationship between the two, which continued into Rivera's NFL playing career -- he spoke with Madden, who was a broadcaster at the time, during production meetings -- and into his coaching tenure, when Rivera and Madden started meeting yearly in 2013.

A lot of Rivera's coaching philosophies have been influenced by Madden. Rivera adopted Madden's famous rules from when he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders: be on time, pay attention and play like hell. Rivera delegates authority but does not settle for anything less than his standard. He allows players to be themselves -- within certain parameters -- adapts to his team's strengths and uses his instincts when making in-game decisions.

Redskins fans can expect Rivera to implement similar principles with his newest franchise.

3. He earned the nickname "Riverboat Ron" for his aggressive offensive play calling.

"Riverboat Ron" has become the de facto nickname for Rivera. It's even used by Rivera himself, as his Twitter handle is @RiverboatRonHC.

The phenomenon began in Week 3 of the 2013 season. Up until that point, Rivera's tenure in Carolina was marked by conservative decision-making. Just the week before against Buffalo, Rivera faced a fourth-and-one from the Bills' 21-yard line with the Panthers leading 20-17 with less than two minutes to play. A conversion would have sealed the victory. Instead, Rivera opted for a field goal that put his team ahead by six. The Bills then marched down the field for the winning touchdowns.

But in Week 3 against the New York Giants, the Panthers went for it on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line and scored a touchdown. It was the first of 12 fourth-and-ones since the Bills game, with Rivera going for it nine times and converting eight. After starting the season 0-2, the Panthers won 12 of their next 14 games to win the first of three division titles and make the postseason for the first time since 2008.

"I finally figured out what I had been doing was going by the book, taking the points on fourth down -- and it wasn't working," Rivera said according to Sports on Earth's Dan Pompei.

"Riverboat Ron" refers to riverboat casino gamblers, who are known for taking risks. Rivera prefers to call himself a "calculated risk taker."

4. Rivera, the coach and the person, is highly respected around the NFL.

For insight on how Rivera is publicly perceived, consider the actions of the franchise that parted ways with him during the middle of this past season.

The Panthers gave Rivera a sincere and grand farewell, complete with thank yous, best wishes, stories, videos and a final press conference. He received an outpouring of support from Panthers players on social media.

Standing in the locker room for Panthers locker cleanout on Monday, Olsen again praised Rivera, this time in response to the rumors he would become the next coach of the Washington Redskins.

"Have some pieces in place. Need to get a little structure. Need to get a little organization. And Ron's the guy for that type of job," Olsen told The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Person. "You could put him in a lot of different circumstances and he'll do a good job.

Defensive end Gerald McCoy, who played for the Panthers this season after spending his first nine in Tampa, gave the current Redskins a preview of who they'd be playing for.

"One of the best things to ever happen in your career is about to happen," McCoy said. "One of the greatest men I've ever been around. One of the greatest coaches I've been around."

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman can relate to Olsen and McCoy. He played for Rivera in Carolina from 2012-2015 and said he's someone who gets the best out of people. When asked how the culture would change under Rivera, Norman said, "Everything as you see it today would be different. I'll say that."

"He gets the best out of players," Norman elaborated. "Not just the players, but men. He builds men and guys that also build character, not just for football, but in life. I think that's the first thing you want to see in anybody -- they actually care about you instead of the game itself. That's what builds that family and that bond; guys can't break that."

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins said Monday that he had a sit-down meeting with Rivera during the pre-draft process. "He's a good dude. I have heard a lot of good things about him. We will see what happens."

5. Rivera is "ready to roll" into his newest coaching endeavor.

It had been less than a month between head coaching jobs, and Rivera was already getting antsy.

"Even though I'm out of it, I still pop up every day at 4:45 am. -- I just can't help it," Rivera told's Michael Silver last week. He'd look at the teams who already had or were expecting to have coaching vacancies, compile a coaching list and reflect and revise his philosophies. He work on "producing books in terms of getting ready for the interviews."

The wait is now over. The Redskins have their head coach, and Rivera has a new home. He's "ready to roll."

"It's funny because people asked me, 'Are you gonna take some time off?'" Rivera told Silver. "I said, 'I took four weeks.' Then I'm gonna get right back to it. And honestly, I can't wait."

***CORRECTION: This story incorrectly stated that Ron Rivera was the 29th head coach in Washington Redskins history. He is the 30th coach. This story has been updated to reflect this change.***

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