Pete Hailey presents a Ron Rivera theory to The Junkies


EB was out on Thursday, so the Junkies filled his seat for part of the 8 a.m. hour with old friend Pete Hailey, who of course covers the Commanders for NBC Sports Washington, and when the Junks presented the idea that 2023 is a “do or die” campaign for Ron Rivera in a “roster building” year, well, Pete had a theory that, pun intended as you’ll see, may not hold much water.

“I heard the theory that it’s about selling himself to a new owner, and this is the life raft he’s clinging to, but I don’t know if an owner is going to come in and be that sensitive to subtle football details,” Hailey said. “A new owner will look at win-loss record, and not care about Kam Curl getting better or offensive line depth; it’s going to be whether or not you win 11 games!”

In the end, indeed, a new owner mantra is likely to be “you are what your record says you are.”

“If you win 11 games, cool, you can stick around, and if not, why am I going to keep you and I’m going to blow everyone out,” Hailey said. “I think Ron is desperate for a sales pitch, but the only pitch that matters is what the record is in January. I don’t anticipate that record will be good enough, and I think Ron will be gone after this season.”

Hailey “doesn’t get” Rivera’s strategy of selective loquaciousness, so to speak, or how he goes back and forth on certain issues, especially in the pressure cooker that is D.C.

“I don’t know if it was because Carolina was a different market and he wasn’t nitpicked as much, but you’d think after four years he’d realize they’re going to hang on everything he says and cross-reference it,” Hailey said. “I get he’s been in a tough spot, and this might be a dragon that’s impossible to slay, but I don’t think he’s helped himself in a lot of ways.”

And when it comes to that roster-building, Rivera did inherit a tough spot, but has had three years to try to fix it – and here we are with Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022, as QB1, or QB1A, or whatever his title is now, leading the roster.

“I don’t think he’s a super-outgoing quarterback, but he’s a guy who takes it super seriously. I don’t think he’s going to goof around, because I’m sure he’s aware of the opportunity that he has,” Hailey said. “I think he’ll do his best to attack it, and on the field, there are tools to use, and it could be an appealing fit in Eric Bieniemy’s offense – but I also think the decision-makers are revising their take on Sam Howell and pretending they love him so, so much.”

The Junkies think it’s a little bit of “propaganda” how the Commanders are doing that, but as Hailey says, last year, “they clearly weren’t preparing him to play, hoping he didn’t have to.”

Check out Hailey’s entire visit with The Junkies above for more on the Commanders!

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