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Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera Wants to Build A 'Player-Centered Culture' With A 'Coach-Centered Approach'


ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder has spent the past month evaluating success in the NFL, namely why some teams win and some do not.

He looked at teams like the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks -- teams that have molded reputations as some of the best organizations in the league -- and came to one common factor: they all have a coach-centered approach.

When Snyder approached Ron Rivera about the possibility of being the Redskins' new head coach, he said he believed that was the way for success, and while Rivera said he appreciated the thought that the head coach matters, he would only accept the job under one condition: the Redskins would need a player-centered culture to complement the approach.

Weeks later, Rivera was officially introduced as the Redskins’ next head coach with the goal of building a foundation based on those two principles.

"My responsibility is to get the most out of the players," Rivera said in his introductory press conference. "To work with them, teach them, mentor them. If I have to do it one by one, I will most certainly do it. I've done it in the past, and I'll do it again."

There were a couple of jokes and a few laughs throughout Rivera's first time in front of the Washington media at Redskins Park, but the message was clear from start to finish: Rivera wants to build a winning team. He sees the potential of the roster, but he knows there is only one way to turn that potential into results, and that is by coaches leading players to craft success.

The reason why having a coach-centered approach is so important is because the team will operate on the same page with the goal of moving forward.

"We want everyone focusing on what their job is," Rivera said. "I have a saying: 'We need 11 guys doing one thing at a time, not one guy trying to do all 11.' Do your job, we'll have success. I promise you that."

Rivera said "things will begin and end with one simple principle: discipline." His father, Eugenio Rivera, served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, so the things that come with discipline -- structure and order -- are the only ways he knows to build a new Redskins culture.

"It's expected from Day 1," Rivera said. "Every player, every coach, every person who works for this organization, they'll know it [from] Day 1. You're not going to play for this team, you're not going to work for this team if you don't have the discipline and commitment to give us everything you have."

To get the best out of his players, Rivera believes they need to know that the coaches support them. That's the way it was when Rivera was playing for the Chicago Bears as a linebacker and coaching with the Carolina Panthers. And the process worked, too; the Bears won Super Bowl XX in 1985, while the Panthers had four postseason appearances and three division titles under his tenure.

"He gets the best out of players, simple as that," said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, who played for Rivera from 2012-2015. "Not just the players, but men. He builds men and guys that also build character."

So, one of Rivera's first messages to the players who were in attendance, like Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Jonathan Allen, was simple: "Do it the way we teach you."

"Do it the way we ask," Rivera said. "You do it that way, the success will be yours. If you don't, it's gonna be yours, but it's not gonna be right. Why? Because if you fail, it's on you. Do it our way, do it the right way, and if we fail, it's on me."

For Peterson, Rivera's words rang true.

"It felt good. That's what you want from a head coach, expressing that it's on the players," Peterson said. "Coaches put you in the right situation, but at the end of the day, players have to execute and have the mindset."

Going along with the same coach-centered approach, Rivera wants to build a coaching staff that is "truly dedicated to the players" who are also teachers (he emphasized the word "teachers"). He has already started that by hiring defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was also in attendance during the press conference. Like Rivera, Del Rio has a strong reputation around the league as being a "player's coach," which Rivera knows he will bring to his new position.

"I know who Jack [Del Rio] is as a player," Rivera said. "We competed against each other collegiately and professionally, and I've got tremendous respect for who he's been."

The process of filling the coaching staff is just beginning, Rivera said, but he promises that whoever the coaches will be are ones who are dedicated to teaching players the right way.

Rivera's main goal is to build a consistent winning organization and to win a Super Bowl. He knows it isn't always advisable to say that, but that's how he feels. He wants to put it all out there on his first day, because that will be the expectation from now on.

But to do that, there needed to be a shift in the team's culture. Snyder said as much in his opening statement. It starts and ends with the head coach, Snyder added, and a culture change required a "class act" to take that position.

He believes Rivera to be that "class act." And with Rivera leading the approach with a player-centered culture in mind, Snyder knows he will lead the Redskins back to being a winning team.

"It's all about winning," Snyder said. "Ron Rivera knows how to win as a player, as a coach and as the new head coach of the Redskins. One thing that's very, very important is we're going to have one voice, and only one voice alone, and that's the coach's."

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