Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera just wrapped up his Monday press conference reacting to the team's 45-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Here are some notes and quotes from his availability with the media.
-- Rivera stressed all week that he wanted to pare down some of the concepts the defense was trying to run, giving players simpler responsibilities. For the most part, Rivera believes that they were able to do that, although there were obviously some missed assignments and lapses in communication. To fix those problems, Rivera wants to take a closer look at them to make sure he's putting the players in the best position to succeed.
-- The Commanders emphasized the desire to create more opportunities for their wide receivers, but so far, they have fallen short of that goal. According to ESPN's John Keim, the Commanders rank last in receptions resulting in gains of at least 40 yards. They're the only team in the NFL with zero.
"There's some things that we can do better," Rivera said. "Protection hasn't always been what we needed, and part of it as well is Sam [Howell] growing and developing in his decision-making and just having the chance to make the play."
-- Percy Butler is one of the players who has gotten more opportunities in the second half of the season. He's played 100% of the defensive snaps in all but three games since Week 6 and had five tackles to go with one pass breakup against the Dolphins. There have been some positive plays, but there have also been some moments, like giving up touchdowns against the Cowboys and Dolphins, that show much he still needs to improve.
"He's done a nice job," Rivera said. "He's showing some flashes of ability, but again, it's a learning process for a young player."
-- But Butler isn't the only young player that Washington's staff will have its eye on for the last four games.
"We've got three first-year players playing defensive end for us," Rivera said. "With [Andre Jones Jr.] and [Jalen Harris], those are...young guys that are out there and they're playing as hard as they can and trying to do what they can and it is a little bit of an evaluation for all those young guys."
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders during their Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
-- Players are certainly frustrated this time of year. The team is 4-9 with an ever-shrinking possibility of making the playoffs. It's on Rivera and the staff to help them get through this period, and the first thing they can do is tell them that they aren't alone in feeling the frustration.
"There's a lot of people out there that are working hard, trying to get better," Rivera said. "It is difficult. It is hard, but you also have to look at the circumstances that we are in … It's not been easy. It's been hard. It's gonna be hard. That's just the way it is. And eventually, if things continue to work, and people get better, then you see the improvement."
-- Rivera also had some praise for interim defensive backs coach Cristian Garcia.
"I think Cristian is a good, young coach. I really do. I think he's got an opportunity to grow, and in time, I think he will be a coordinator in this league. I really believe that."
-- Terry McLaurin is never one to openly complain about his use in the offense, but he has been frustrated at times. Yesterday's game was the latest example of that, as he got zero catches for just the second time in his career on three targets. Rivera said McLaurin has spoken to offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy about his usage in the offense, and the head coach appreciates how he has handled it.
"That's the way you handle it," Rivera said. "You go in, and you talk directly. It's been big of him to come in and fight the frustration and talk about it."
-- Finally, Rivera shared this thought about the team's growth and development.
"You can only say so much about development and growth. You can only say so much about the process. There's a certain point in time...when you say, 'Now's the time. Let's go.' The process is now, and the time is now."