Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media on Monday ahead of the team's preparations for their Week 5 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. Here are some notes and quotes from his press conference.
-- Rivera started off with some unfortunate injury news: Darrick Forrest (shoulder) and Jeremy Reaves (knee) will be placed on Injured Reserve at some point this season. It's a hefty blow to both the Commanders' defense and special teams units, as Forrest is a starter and Reaves was a First Team All-Pro special teams player a year ago. Rivera added that the team will make multiple roster changes to replace both players.
"We drafted Percy for a reason. We got Quan for a reason, and this is why. So now it's the next man up mentality and we just gotta go forward and get ready."
-- Rivera said replacing Reaves is "a big blow for us."
"Obviously we have some guys on practice squad that we're going to look at and we will be elevating. A couple of those guys are guys that are special teams guys as well. They're defensive backs that give us options."
-- Washington has gotten off to slow starts for the past three seasons. The team is 2-3 right now, but it is entering a critical stretch with multiple opportunities to avoid the woes of previous years. Rivera said the last few days have been a good chance for the staff to "dive into several things." They studied and evaluated several aspects of both sides of the ball, and they have come to some resolutions that they feel comfortable with. He has confidence that the changes will work, because all the problems they've had in the past are fixable.
-- "Friday was a long day," Rivera said of the time the staff spent evaluating the state of the team, but the time spent was beneficial because they were able to look at specific aspects of the team and pair that with some of the analytics that are at their disposal.
-- There is no shortage of frustration from the entire team over how the last three weeks unfolded. With that said, no one is pointing fingers, and Rivera said that "we need to see more from everybody."
"We really feel like we can play better. We can coach better. We can all do everything better. We really think this is a collective thing. We're all culpable for the things that have happened in the last five weeks."
-- For Rivera, the biggest surprise so far has been the missed opportunities that the team has failed to execute on both sides of the ball.
"We could have done some things better, things that would have sustained drives on offense and things that would have gotten us off the field immediately on defense."
-- Rivera said the Commanders have been put in situations where they've had to put more on Sam Howell’s plate than originally intended. That's expediting his development -- Rivera even said that he is a little bit ahead of where they thought he would be -- but it's still not something they want to do to a young quarterback.
"We want to be balanced, we want to be able to run, use play action and drop back passing. We want to be able to use those phases of offense as opposed to getting stuck and saying, 'Okay, we gotta try and do this and try and do this to give yourself a chance to win.'"
-- Despite having to do more than intended, there are several things that Rivera has liked about Howell's development.
"You do like what he's done and that's one of the things that you really appreciate. You see who he is, you see his grit, you see his toughness, you see his decision making. Those are all good. Those are things that hopefully we get this thing going in the right direction, that'll benefit as we continue the season. It's a long, long year. We got 12 more games left to play and we're going to approach them one game at a time and focus in on playing the best we can each game."