Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media via conference call following the team's 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Here are some notes and quotes from his conversation with reporters.
-- There were certainly some mistakes from Taylor Heinicke during the game, but for the most part, Rivera thought that the signal-caller played well and had some opportunities. The mistakes he made, however, were daggers to the Commanders' chances of pulling off the upset, and there was none bigger than the fourth-quarter interception. He overthrew Logan Thomas, who was open on the play, but he also had Dax Milne open on a pivot route that would have resulted in a positive gain.
Those are the kinds of shots that come with Heinicke as the starting quarterback, Rivera said, although he would he like for his quarterback to take what is in front of him as opposed to trying for a big play.
-- Any fan who watched Sunday's game would have noticed that Benjamin St-Juste spent a lot of time lined up against Justin Jefferson. That was by design, Rivera confirmed, and while Jefferson is one of the top receivers in the league -- he finished with 113 yards and a touchdown -- St-Juste held his own.
"I thought he fought and battled his butt off and did the best he could and the truth of matters," Rivera said of St-Juste. "We feel pretty comfortable and pretty good about him."
-- Washington also made the decision to start cornerback Danny Johnson over Rachad Wildgoose, and that decision turned out to be the right one. The move to mix things up came from the fact that Wildgoose had "a tough game" against the Colts, Rivera said, and the staff thought it was a good chance to see how Johnson would handle the opportunity.
He grabbed an interception in the closing seconds of the second half, so it is safe to say he handled it well.
"Danny's a guy that continues to battle and earns opportunities, and he's been practicing really well," Rivera said.
-- Rivera was asked whether Johnson and guard Trai Turner would be the starters at their respective positions going forward. That will be determined by the final grades once the film has been fully dissected, but Rivera does have an idea on which way he is leaning on that decision.
"I got an opportunity to watch the tape this morning, got up early and went in real early so I can get all that out of the way," Rivera said. "I'm going to listen to the coaches, and we'll go from there."
-- Rivera also provided an assessment of where the team is at heading into the final eight games of the season. There are some things he likes; the team is playing physically, particularly when it comes to running the ball. Heinicke is "feast or famine," he said, but he does provide a spark. There has also been some growth on defense and special teams. For now, Rivera wants the Commanders to focus on one game at a time, starting against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.
-- Carson Wentz is progressing well, Rivera said. He has managed to keep himself in "football shape" while he recovers from his hand surgery and has been doing some drills and techniques on the field while he recovers. Rivera did not say when he would be activated off Injured Reserve, although he is guaranteed to miss the next week against the Eagles.
-- Here is a look at how the week will unfold ahead of the primetime matchup: Wednesday will feature a walkthrough that is closed off to the media. From there, the Commanders will go through their regular work schedule, wrap up practice on Saturday and travel to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
-- Finally, Rivera did have some small context for Chase Young. The extra day of rest could help him be ready to play against the Eagles, but it will ultimately come down to his conditioning throughout the week.