Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media after practice on Nov. 17. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On RB Antonio Gibson's injury:
"There was optimism earlier in the week. It's responded but slowly and so we really won't have a feel for it until the game day. We'll try to get him out there on the field and see how he feels. A little bit like what we had to do with [WR] Curtis [Samuel] the last couple times."
On if Gibson can't play who will fill in for him:
"Yeah, [RB] Chris Rodriguez will assume that and then [RB] Derrick Gore will pop up and assume, assume Chris's situation."
On if DE James Smith-William's injury is a one-week situation:
"I hope it's a one week thing. I mean, he's progressed well, as has [FB] Alex Armah. So, you know, we're hoping to get those guys back out, especially for the short week next week. You know, there's no telling what's gonna happen, obviously in the game with the other guys."
On if at the defensive end position, it is the next man up mentality with the injuries:
"Next man up. That's all you can do."
On what he has seen from DE Andre Jones Jr.:
"Well, practice, a lot of things you've seen has been the explosiveness. I mean, that's one of the things that he features is his ability to get off the ball and be explosive. Got quick twitch. In the two games that he's played, he's made three plays. Took a couple of balls, got pressure on a quarterback, assisted in a couple of tackles so in a limited time, you've seen some things that tell you, well, this young man's grown, let's see what he can do this week."
On what the offense can learn from their second half performance against the Seahawks defense:
"Well, I think a big part of it's actually getting the ball out of [QB] Sam [Howell]'s hands quicker. You know, limiting his read process of how many, the progression that he had to go through so he can get it out quicker, stuff like that. That was one of the things that we were able to do and do well. And then again, it was certain protection things that we did also that we adjusted to in, at halftime. That really I think helped the guys. Sam got a little bit more involved in the protections as well, in changing some of the calls. I don't know if you guys noticed that, but you saw him step into line and help with IDing stuff. So those were things that we learned in the first half that we used in the second half, and then get a chance to take a step back and look at it again. These are the new things that they've talked about doing before."
On if by limiting QB Sam Howell's read process is calling different plays or changing how he reads plays:
"It's basically calling different plays."
On if Howell stepping up to the line of scrimmage to change plays is something he expected:
"Oh yeah, that's something that fits. That is a sign of growth because, you know, as he learned and picked it up and now all of a sudden you see something and say this is better for what we're gonna do. That's been really good."
On if RB Brian Robinson has the ability to be a three down running back:
"Yes. The other thing that's going to be helping him too is just his blitz pickups stepping up and blocking, his ability to chip and understanding when you're chipping those ends, what it means and how it impacts your route running as well. Instead of just trying to get out as quick as you can, now it's, hey, I'm taking a quick look, I'm scanning. I say, I got to go over, give the complete chip, and just get into the route. What it does too, it throws off the defenders in terms of their coverage. The guy's got to cover you or he's got to match you and you're late to come out, he's already gone. Shoot, now you've become a very viable target. So, he's learning and understanding all those things within the scheme of what we're doing."
On when he saw Howell's improvement on staying on his first read too long:
"I'm trying to remember the game. You saw some of it, some games where his progression was very smooth and then other games you did see the tendency to hold onto it. In the Giants game in the second half, you really saw him understanding just how quickly, how important it was to move quickly. To be specific about it, I'd have to go back and look at it again, but I just know that there were instances where you would see it in the game then you'd see revert. And that's just staring a guy down a little too long."
On if he's been more consistent with his improvement on his first read:
"Very much so and sometimes you almost want to hang just a little bit longer because he has gone quickly a couple of times especially recently that you'd like to say, hey, just one more tick, or, hey, go ahead and slide the other way. That gives you an extra second because you feel that pressure to your right. Just slide a little sooner and you can hold it a second, it'll take longer."
On how RB Christopher Rodriguez has handled blitz pickups:
"He's been really good. I mean, I will say this, it's one of the things that as groups go or position groupings go, it starts to come together, you see them all pick it up at the same time and it's just a matter of timing. And that's probably the biggest thing, you know, the biggest element that we've needed was just the timing, so you start to see those positive trends."
On TE Cole Turner being inactive the past few weeks:
"We know he's a good pass catching tight end. With [FB] Alex [Armah], he gives us a little bit more of a guy that would help us block inside in particular some of that inside running which we've used a few more in the last few weeks with Alex."
On how much he thinks about his own future:
"Honestly, I really don't. I understand the situation of circumstances, but I'm not going to waver on anything. I'm going to stick to what I talked about in the spring and that was the growth and development of the quarterback and the offensive unit. I think with what we're doing and how we're doing things, it's kind of the progression of how it would be. My biggest disappointment has been we haven't played as well on defense as we needed to. Does that make my job security shaky? It could. I have no idea what [Washington Commanders Managing Partner] Mr. [Josh] Harris is going to do. So all I can do is just focus in on each game, each week, and just stay on that game. I did the same thing in Carolina [Panthers], and the truth is, this is the nature of the game. I get it. So, if it happens, it happens. If I stay, I stay and so until then, I will just continue to work. I know what my goals are. I know what my vision is. But I'm not going to shake and wave on [QB] Sam, [Howell] or this offense or what we do. It's unfortunate right now that we haven't played as well as we needed to on defense to give ourselves a few more opportunities to win. The last couple weeks, I think we've kind of played kind of complementary football, especially in the New England [Patriots] game. There were some things that we had to do, and we bowed up and made some plays on defense and offense. We scored when we needed to. So those were good things. Last week, we didn't get pressure on the quarterback I would like to have had. [Seattle Seahawks QB] Geno [Smith] was struggling. It would've been good to be able to put some more pressure on that quarterback. It would've helped us, probably would've given us an opportunity, even a better opportunity to win. But again, I'm going to work with what we have, deal with what we have, and just continue to stick to what I've said in this right."
On if he uses his past experience in Carolina now and if he has considered firing coaches on his staff:
"No, because in this situation, this circumstance right now, there's more than just one reason. I'm not looking to throw anybody under the bus or blame anybody. I want to get through this season. I want to get through this season with as many wins as we can have. I want to get in the playoffs. We have seven games left to play and we'll see what happens. But I'm not going anywhere in terms of changing what I'm doing or changing my approach. We started this and I think we have an opportunity to do some good things. And again, just continue with the growth."
On how much he talks with ownership:
"I think the biggest thing more so anything else, is we continue to have the conversations. We have great conversations. We talk about players, we talk about schemes, we talk about how the games unfold, we talk about going forward with the games coming up. It's been great. I mean, [Managing Partner Josh] Mr. Harris has been terrific. He really has. He's playing everything close to the vest as he should and it's his prerogative as the owner to make decisions that he feels that are best in the future. So, we'll see what happens. We'll just continue to work and play hard and see how it unfolds. Like I said, I'll control what I can and that's what goes on out there on the football field."
On how to motivate players being outside the playoff picture:
"If you look at them one at a time. There's a great little saying and you might be too young to remember it, it's, 'On any given Sunday.' On any given Sunday means any team in the NFL can beat any other team. You know why? On that Sunday, you don't have to be the best team. You just have to be the team that plays the best, that's who wins. I'll be honest with you, I didn't really figure that out until 2014. I read a great book and in the book it's one of the things that talked about, talked about the moment, being in the moment, if you're in that moment, you play your best and it's better than the team that's better than you, you're going to win. That's the way we have to approach it, that's the way we have to look at it. So that's why I talk about the emphasis being one game at a time. Just stay focused on that one game at a time. That's why the mentality has to be one game at a time. I really believe that."