Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media on Monday, Sept. 26. Here is a full transcript of his press conference.
On how QB Sam Howell performed and how his footwork has looked over the past three games:
"Yeah, for the most part it is. I think the biggest thing is just, again, sometimes he gets a little indecisive. He gets through his progression and he's a little bit of a hiccup and sometimes he's just got to trust it and go ahead and go with it and other times just get rid of the ball."
On if those situations occur due to confusion or trying to make a big play:
"I think a combination of either trying to make a big play or seeing too much."
On what they found was wrong in their gameplan:
"I thought there were some really good things. I really did. And again, sometimes it comes down to when we use them, when's the best time to use them, stuff like that. Then sometimes it is about execution and getting it done. It's a collaborative thing. It's not all on one person, one individual. That's why there's 11 guys on the field."
On what the leash is for Howell as a starter:
"Well, right now we are 2-1. Sam's won three games in four starts. So, we'll just continue to go from there and see how things go. We kept Sam in because we felt the only way he's going to grow and get better is to play. That's why we did what we did."
On if he sees Howell making the same mistakes:
"I think the biggest thing we're seeing is again, there's a point where sometimes you see too much. You go back and you may see a flash and all of a sudden you think, okay, I'm going to put it in there. And he does. Other times he sees a flash that says, oh, he's too close. Then now he tries to go somewhere else and it's a little too late. Again, he's just got to continue to learn and grow and get through this. This is a guy that's started and played four games."
On having a set time when Howell should pass the ball:
"You'd like him to reach the ball before he gets hit. Sure. I'm being serious. Whether that's in your mindset saying, okay, there is a two and a half second clock, which we all know and understand and believe in, but at the same time because of his agility and abilities, sometimes he can extend the play and which we've seen and we've seen him do it successfully. But we've also seen it where there's that little hesitation, it's cost him a little bit. So again, we wanted to continue to go with the clock in his head, but at the same time, we don't want him to miss opportunities if they're there. Upfront we'd like to hold our blocks a little bit longer if we can."
On if the rest of the division having a bad week plays into his mindset:
"Oh yeah, believe me, I'm hoping for tonight too to finish the week off. So that would be good for all of us. Just being honest. I mean, again it is but that's not the reason why we do the things that we do. It's always kind of a relief to find those things out. But what you would like to do more so than anything else is again, continue to work and have him grow because we know the faster he gets to where we think he can be, the better we're going to be as a football team. This is our third game of the season. We're two and one right now, and we have an opportunity to make some corrections from this game. Everybody hates to lose. I hate to lose. [Expletive],I hate losing. Excuse me, sorry. But I do, and the truth of the matter is, the only good thing out of losing is that you can learn from it. And that's what we intend to do, to learn what our mistakes were, learn what the things that we didn't do right, get those things corrected and move forward. That's what we're going to do. I mean, we're not going to stay indoors because the sky is falling. We're going to show up, we're going to work hard, we're going to get it corrected. This is a good football team, good young football team that needs to learn and understand you're going to make mistakes. You're going to get your butt kicked. How you respond, that tells everybody whether you're worth a crap or not. So I expect these guys to show up tomorrow. We're going to correct them, we're going to correct ourselves tonight as we go through it as a coaching staff, which we've done partly right now. And then we'll show up and we're going to get it right. We are."
On if he thinks leaning more on the run should have been more of a strategy point against Buffalo:
"Well, hindsight is 20/20 okay. And there were some things that we did do well in the run game. But we do what we did mostly because it's collaborative. We talk about it on the headsets, we talk about it when we come to the sideline. And again, the one thing we do talk about is just trying to get the opportunity for Sam. That game was close all the way up to a certain point in the fourth quarter, and at any point it would've come together. Who knows? And again, it's hindsight now."
On throwing the ball a lot because of the deficit or getting Howell experience:
"I think it's a combination of both. Sometimes we got into the deficit where we did throw the ball, but it is about him too as well. Because again, the sooner we really feel he develops and grows, the more opportunities we're going to get. I do look at this like this is a very young player. Granted, I know he's a second-year player, but this is his fourth game. And so with that, there is some leniency with that. There is a little bit of growing pains that we're going to have to deal with. Is there a point, I don't know because it's so important that he develops and grows for us and so we're going to see. But we're going to give every opportunity right now and right now we're riding with them."
On not getting much from the punt return game:
"I don't know if that's as much about helping Sam as much as just helping the football team. But on both of those returns, the unfortunate thing is that there were very good kicks. You wish you had a little bit more hang time on them. We had a gunner getting down there close into place and then we got out of our lanes. So more so anything else, if we can get just a little bit more hang time, that ball's fair caught or that ball's a little shorter. Quite honestly, he just kicked the ball too."
On if Howell holding onto his first read too much if a product of seeing too much or his development:
"I think it's part of his development. I think, you know, as you go through it, a lot of it has to play, has a lot to do with the play call and that's one of the things that as we go through it, you gotta see what you need to see and then make your decision and move on to the next one or deliver the wall."
On what he saw from the offensive line especially the interior:
"Well, I thought those guys fought and tried to do their jobs, but I do think that there's a couple things that gotta give them [Buffalo Bills] credit too. Some of the scheme things that they did, some of the technique things that they use might've caught us a little bit off balance. We gotta make sure we communicate it as it's happening. I think those are some of the things too but you know, remember there's two teams out on the field."
On if he has talked with RB Antonio Gibson about the fumbling and if they still go right back to him:
"Well, I think in this case, more than anything else, you go right back to him. That I mean, if people say, oh, you know, that had something to do with the way he carries the ball, well you can't fault a guy for trying either. You know he spun, tried to get back inside and tried to spin again and that's when he got hit. At that point, you also gotta say discretion is a better part of value. Just take it and go to the ground and you know, we will live with another play. But he was trying and that to me, you know, I'm not gonna fault a guy for trying hard."
On the pass rush not being as effective as it has been in the first two weeks:
"I think [Buffalo Bills QB] Josh Allen got into our guy's head a little bit after that first couple series. I mean, tucking the ball and running because basically first of all, coverage was good, but they'd gotten to him and forced him out of the pocket and a guy with that kind of ability can stretch a play, get outside. There's a frustration that comes with it too when you feel like you should be making a sack, you should be making a play. It gets to guys, it does. It's just like when you're playing against the team that throws a ball quick all the time on three and five step drops, you know you're close but you're not getting there and if you can get a lead and have a good lead going into the fourth quarter, you can pin your ears back and get after somebody and you know, that's kind of what happened to us."
On if he is surprised that WR Jahan Dotson hasn't had significant production so far:
"I just think it's about opportunities when the balls are thrown and when he has had the ball thrown his direction, he's been catching the ball and making plays."
On if there is a reason why Dotson hasn't been getting has many targets:
"A lot of it has to do with also reading the progressions and all that."