Ron Rivera is entering his second season as Washington Football Team head coach, and he's determined to apply the lessons he learned during his first year. In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Rivera discussed one specific thing he wants to do better this time around: handling quarterbacks during training camp.
A year ago, Rivera zeroed in on Dwayne Haskins. Even though he didn't name Haskins as the starter until mid-August, it was clear which way Rivera was leaning. He declined to hold an open competition for the job and had Haskins work exclusively with the starters.
That didn't work out well for Rivera or the team. Haskins did good work during training camp, but none of that appeared during the regular season and he was benched after four games. Rivera told ESPN he now sees how he could have handled training camp better.
"The mistake I made was that my approach was wrong," Rivera told ESPN on Thursday. "I should have made as big a competition as possible, and that's on me. I wanted to try and find a guy. I thought [Haskins] was ready to take a step and take every opportunity. I try to build that rapport he needed with his teammates, and that would have been something we may have been able to see sooner and could have done something different, perhaps."
Rivera said that focusing solely on Haskins didn't give the team a full picture of what needed to be worked on, especially since there were no preseason games due to COVID-19. He told ESPN that he wishes he'd rotated in other quarterbacks, and he won't make the same mistake again.
"I think it would have given us a better idea as to what we had to focus on," Rivera said. "What we had to hone up, how we need to approach it with our players and position guys. I think that's the thing we missed was not having an understanding and feel."
Learning lessons from last summer
Even though he has Ryan Fitzpatrick, a dependable and reliable starter, Rivera believes a QB competition between Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen will benefit the team as a whole.
"It's going to be a good competition," Rivera told ESPN. "I look forward to it. It's going to push our football team and make our football team better. I just feel that going into this knowing we have a proven guy there that has the ability to lead us, but again, we have a guy in Taylor that shows us he can do it. They are going to compete, they are going to push, and I'm looking forward to it."
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