The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
Chase Young was practically skipping off the field after the Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles when he uttered the words that reverberated across social media.
"Tom Brady, I'm coming," Young said before heading into the tunnel. "I want Tom! I want Tom!"
Young's words will certainly be "bulletin board material" for the Bucs, head coach Ron Rivera said Monday after the game, but that is who Young is. That kind of proclamation makes Rivera cringe, but he knows it does not come from a place of arrogance. In fact, it stems from Young's love for the game, and those are the types of players Rivera wants on his team.
"I want guys that love playing professional football on this team, not guys that love being professional football players," Rivera said. "Do you feel the difference? Can you feel the difference about wanting to play the game, loving playing the game, and not just showing up in the uniform and looking good? That's what I want."
Believe it or not, Rivera has had a few moments where he has been star struck. There was Joe Montana -- a four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer -- and Brett Favre, who Rivera played against in his final season with the Chicago Bears in 1992. He even had that moment meeting linebacker Ray Lewis for the first time as a coach.
"There are just some over-the-top guys as far as being iconic to me, and I've always thought that was cool that I either got to play with those guys or I played against those guys," Rivera said.
So Rivera understands when Young gets excited to play Brady or introduces himself to Ben Roethlisberger during the warmups before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only does it show they admire some of the all-time great players, but it also tells him they want to emulate them.
"Who wouldn't want to be like Tom Brady and or Ben Roethlisberger, because those guys are champions," Rivera said. "You see guys like that and you say, 'Man, what makes those guys so special?' And that's what's cool about it."
Washington is fortunate enough to have a player who possesses some of those qualities in Alex Smith. Many of his teammates received a better look at his two-year recovery than most, and Rivera overheard players talking about how Smith's love for the game fueled his comeback.
"That, to me, is a tangible thing that the guys can learn from. If you don't learn from it, maybe you don't deserve to be here. This is an opportunity that you're not just given. You earn it. You're not entitled to it. You have to earn it. You really do. For him to work his way back, that, to me, tells the whole story."
Smith has had a much different career than Brady, but Rivera has noticed some similarities in how the two approach the game. Like Brady, Smith plays with confidence and swagger, and that has been infectious for the rest of the team.
"That's what we're working toward and striving for is to have that kind of continuity and kind of success and build that kind of confidence," Rivera said. "As I said earlier, if you think about what's happened for us the last four times Alex has started for us, we've won. You see the guys play with that kind of confidence and kind of comfort level on the field. That's what you want to create is that kind of consistency, that confidence and that swagger."
It is not going to be all excitement for Young when finally gets on the field with Brady. He knows exactly the type of player Brady has become over his 21-year career. Young said at the NFL Scouting Combine that Brady was one quarterback he wanted to sack in his career, and now he has that chance.
"It's Tom," Young told the media after the game. "One of the best to ever do it. They say the best to ever do it. So, we gotta focus up, we gotta lock back in. ...It's go time. It's that time."
-- A possible quarterback rotation against the Buccaneers: Rivera wants to play the quarterback that will give Washington the best chance to win against the Buccaneers. So far, that has been Smith, who is 5-1 as the starting signal-caller. But Smith has been dealing with a calf injury since Washington's game against the San Francisco 49ers, and he could still feel some tightness against the Eagles.
Rivera admitted after the game that he considered putting backup Taylor Heinicke in at one point, but Smith was doing enough to get the win. With an aggressive defense coming to FedExField on Saturday and Smith still recovering from his injury, all options are on the table, and that includes rotating between both quarterbacks.
"I wouldn't worry about it because our game plan is what our game plan is. That's what it's been. That's the biggest thing is that going into a game, you have one game plan. Now, you may call certain things for a few quarterbacks as opposed to a specific quarterback. That might be one thing you do. But to have two separate game plans, you're asking for way too much from your team. That's why it's important, in my opinion, to have quarterbacks that have been in your system and know your system."
-- Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio have aligning philosophies: Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had intertwined playing careers dating back to their college days at California and USC, respectively. They had never been on the same coaching staff until Rivera came to Washington, and that bond formed after the two had a conversation after Rivera was hired. It was apparent to Rivera that Del Rio loved football, and they agreed on every philosophy the other had. That made Rivera's decision to hire him as Washington's defensive coordinator an easy one, and it has paid off with the defense being ranked second in total yards allowed this season.
"Going forward, I expect him to continue to be great. He's a guy that is a pro. That I think is important as well. It's also great to have a guy that you can bounce ideas off of. That's another thing that's been great. He'll either suggest something and we'll talk about it or I'll go up to him and I'll say: 'Hey, I was thinking about this. What do you think?' And he'll either agree or disagree and he'll give me reasons why. A lot of times people will say: 'Whatever you want to do, Coach.' Jack will say: 'No, how about this Coach? You're right about this. I don't like this because of this.' At least I'll have somebody with some input and somebody with some insight."
-- "Yes, you can coach in the NFL": Washington's Wild Card game will not only be historic because it will be the first time FedExField will host a playoff game since 2015; it will also be the first time female coaches will be on both sidelines in a playoff game. Aside from Jennifer King, who helps coach Washington's running backs, Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar will be in the game as well. Rivera hopes young girls will be inspired watching Saturday's game.
"Yes, you can coach in the NFL. I think that's really cool. This game, it's a tremendous game. It should be open to everybody in terms of opportunities to play, opportunities to coach or opportunities to lead the organization. I think that's an important message that the league is putting out there. I think it really is."
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