OPINION: Ron Rivera’s outburst latest sign Commanders can’t win under Dan Snyder


The Washington Commanders beat the Chicago Bears, but at the post-game press conference, it was the victorious head coach who shouted, swore, apologized, and then left the podium in a huff.

Ron Rivera got mad because even after he took an underperforming squad with a ramshackle offensive line, a banged-up quarterback, and a poor-tackling defense to a 12-7 road win to snap a four-game losing streak, he had to go face the harsh reality of his organization after the game.

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Rivera is the NFL coaching version of Sisyphus: Even when he wins, he loses.

Distractions can sink football teams. And Rivera’s outburst signals a football team and head coach struggling to keep the noise from disrupting the performance.

But, surely, Rivera, now in year three, knew this was the job he was taking. Before he joined he knew the franchise needed a completely new culture. He knew the longtime team president had to go. He knew how his predecessors had failed. And he knew not many people around the league wanted to take this opportunity.

Rivera knew all this because he knew the man who was courting him. He knew taking this job after getting dumped by Carolina would mean becoming the head coach of Daniel Snyder’s football team.

And that’s where all of Rivera’s problems originate. Because no matter who is coaching, who is making the decisions on personnel, or who serves as team president, that is all the franchise will ever be until a sale. The name has changed twice, but this is still Daniel Snyder’s football team.

And after taking this job, Rivera knew he would have to be the public face of it all. He would be the lone face of authority in the organization who – as part of his duties – must march in front of the media and answer questions after every story, after every mistake, and after every scandal comes to light.

Rivera knew all this and still took the job. Perhaps he had the ego to think he could fix the situation or at least overcome it. Or, maybe, he is just a guy who loves to coach football and took a well-paid job to do that, but he was the one who took it.

So, Rivera has to answer questions about the distractions caused by the actions of the owner. And his rookie running back has to conduct a postgame interview after scoring his first career touchdown in his first career start while fans chant “Sell the team! Sell the team!”

Rivera is allowed to complain about the noise and to say that what is important to him are “the guys in the room” and talk about the new culture he’s been trying to establish. “I'm trying to get beyond all this stuff that's on the outside, that's noise,” Rivera told the media late Thursday.

The 2022 Commanders are "a group of young men that deserve better," as he said. But the players in the locker room aren't the only group who deserve better.

The fans – the ones who wore bags over their heads, who still show up to a crumbling stadium only to be outnumbered at home games, and even the ones who simply walked away – deserve better. And the victims – former and current employees, cheerleaders, and members of the media – deserve better, too.

It was another Rivera press conference, another big headline around the NFL. It isn’t his fault, but it is his job. The one he decided to take: To repair the culture, to coach the team, and to be the shield for a man who will not speak publicly or be held accountable sat high above, watching his team scrap to a primetime win.

There are problems and there are symptoms. Rivera's outburst is about the latter. But his frustration underlines how succeeding at his job is impossible under the current circumstances.

Once again, the rock is again at the bottom of the hill. And Rivera seems tired of having to push it uphill each week. But that's life when you are the head coach of Daniel Snyder's football team.

Follow @BenKrimmel and @Team980 for the latest.

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