ASHBURN, Va. -- It's been four days since the Washington Redskins fell in Dallas, dropping their final record for the 2019 season to 3-13, and yet the team auditorium at Redskins Park was packed to the brim, bursting with optimism as Ron Rivera spoke glowingly about his newest opportunity.
The 30th head coach in franchise history did not come to Washington for the money. If that were the case, he would have waited for more NFL teams to come calling -- there would have been several -- and mulled over his lucrative options.
Rivera joined the Redskins because he believes they could soon become a consistent winner, and Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder chose Rivera because he's confident he's the man to spearhead this organizational revival.
"What the Redskins have needed is a culture change, someone that can bring a winning culture to our organization," Snyder said in his opening marks of Rivera's introductory press conference on Thursday. "It starts and ends with our head coach. When looking for that man, I looked for a class act. That's how you describe [head] coach [Ron] Rivera."
Snyder came to Rivera with the idea of creating a coach-oriented approach, similar to those implemented by consistent winners such as the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks, among others. It was one of the biggest selling points for Rivera, as it showed the franchise's commitment to him and his singular vision: to win a Super Bowl.
But for this partnership to work, Rivera told Snyder, they needed to operate under a "player-centered culture."
"I'll do what I can to help these young men become not just the players we want, but the men in the community we need," Rivera said. "These are the guys that can help change things. Not just on the football field, but in this world, and I really do believe that."
Rivera's decision to take the head coaching job, which the team officially announced Wednesday, came after several discussions with Snyder. The two met in Snyder's home for what Rivera said was "about 35 hours" during the process, dissecting every facet of an organization they're hell-bent with turning around.
But above all, Rivera said things will begin and end with the simple concept of discipline. It's all he's ever known coming from a military family, and he intends to belabor that principle in Washington. It will be the driving force in every aspect of the operation.
In filling out his coaching staff, Rivera is bypassing "big names" for "great teachers." Of the players, he's looking for tough competitors who trust the instruction they're given. And on the player personnel side, he wants skilled talent elevators with unique perspectives. Together, Rivera believes they can quickly build a contender.
"I told [Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder] I didn't want to go through a five-year rebuilding process, because quite honestly, I don't have the patience," Rivera said. "And from what I read, neither does he, so we understand that."
With current Redskins and alumni seated in the first row, Rivera spoke about the raw talent and veteran leadership this roster possesses. He analyzed six Redskins game this season, compiling notes on every player who took even a snap during those contests, in addition to watching the final four matchups on television. He saw the growth of quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the youthful exuberance of an underwhelming defense.
Rivera is one of the most respected defensive minds in the NFL, having played linebacker for nine seasons with the Chicago Bears to go along with more than 20 years of coaching experience. His first hire in Washington was defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, an established winner who's bolstered nearly unit he's encountered.
Rivera is also familiar with grooming young quarterbacks. In Carolina, where he spent the past nine seasons as head coach, he was one of the biggest advocates for selecting Cam Newton first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. A Rookie of the Year award followed, as did an NFL MVP and a Super Bowl appearance during the 2015 season.
In Washington he'll inherit Haskins, who he believes can become a "franchise-style quarterback."
"It's a process, though. I'm not going to say it's going to happen over night. Several years ago we drafted [Cam Newton] as the No. 1 pick and we had a plan. What we're trying to do right now is to develop that plan for [Haskins'] development as we go forward."
As a lengthy press conference drew to a close, Rivera fielded a difficult but understandable question. Other coaches have stood at the same podium as Rivera, preaching a multitude of ways to turn the Redskins into a consistent winner again. For the most part, those coaches have not lived up to expectations.
So, what does Rivera believe makes him different? What makes him comfortable that he'll be able to see his vision for the franchise all the way through?
"Well, nobody really knows," Rivera admitted, "but I'll tell you this: I believe in me and I'll bet on me."
And if the past week is any indication, the Washington Redskins believe in Rivera, too.
***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.***