It’s been a week since we’ve heard from Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera. He spoke on Nov. 1 and then kept a low profile during the bye week. He is scheduled to talk to reporters again Monday.
Let me start by saying I think Rivera is great in his press conferences. He treats reporters with respect. He never seems to lose his cool. I believe he, at the very least, tries to give them something they can use.
But Rivera loves asking himself some Ron Rivera questions — and then answering them.
This is not a criticism of Rivera. Again, I think he tries to give thoughtful answers. But I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a coach ask so many questions in his answers to media questions in order to answer those questions. Got it?
This is just from the Nov. 1 press conference. Rivera asked 17 questions of himself. The whole press conference consisted of 23 questions from different reporters for Rivera.
Here is an example: The coach was asked where he thought the offense would be. What followed were six rapid-fire questions in one answer:
“Will it help to get Logan (Thomas) back?
“Will it help to have Curtis (Samuel) on the field?
“Will it help with Dyami (Brown) back there?
“Do I like what we’re getting from the running backs?”
At this point, Rivera took a break from the self-cross-examination to inject a quick answer.
“I like what we get from the running backs, we run hard, the guys create things when they get the ball in their hands.”
Back to the questions: “Can Curtis be explosive?” Another answer: “Absolutely. But again, we don’t know.”
Another Rivera question: “In getting Logan back, how does that help us in the red zone?” Another Rivera answer: “Yes. Those are all questions that we’re going to have answers for as we get out of this week and get into next week.”
Six Rivera questions for Rivera, in response to just one question from a reporter. And after all that, it turns out we have to wait until this week to get the answers.
Later, when asked when he will start the process of evaluating the eight games, that answer required only three Rivera questions:
“Whether it’d be on offense, defense, or special teams, then you look at, OK, what have they done to be productive?
“Or why aren’t they as productive?
“What’s holding them back?”
Finally, the answer: “You’ve got to answer those questions and then it’s OK, the types of things that we’ve done have been very successful against what our opponent is giving us.”
Then came a question about new placekicker Chris Blewitt’s mechanics. Let’s face it, there are a lot of questions about Blewitt, the most important being, “What the heck is he doing here?”
Here was Rivera’s response to the question about mechanics — and a bit more: “You look out there and you say, OK, well who else is out there?”
His answer: “Well, that’s the hard part.”
But Rivera had another question about Blewitt: “Is this something we believe we can?”
The answer: “Yeah, we believe it because when he went out and if you compare the way he struck the first one compared to when he struck the 52-yarder, that was impressive and the ball went into the net too.”
Someone then asked Rivera how he can keep the fan base engaged (engaged? This fan base isn’t even dating this team anymore).
It would have been great if Rivera had answered, “How about if I depants Dan Snyder on the 50-yard line at halftime? That might do it for one Sunday.”
His questions — four of them, actually — in response to the question, though, were good ones.
“The one thing right now that really is probably the hardest thing for us to figure out is, do we have a franchise quarterback right now?”
Followed by: “Is that guy on our roster?” And: “Or is that guy going to be in free agency?” And yet one more: “Is that guy going to be in the draft next year?”
Those last few are the biggest questions facing this franchise — save for, you know, “How do you get rid of the worst owner in the NFL?”
This was Rivera’s answer to the quarterback questions — there is no answer: “So, we’ve got to continue to work with what we have, continue to try and grow with what we have and try and develop who we have because if we do have what we’re looking for and we can plug in a guy or that guy does develop on our roster, then we’re going to be fine.”
Final question of the press conference for Rivera — how would he explain the month of October? Which might have been a question referring to the DEA investigation into the team’s two top trainers. Or about the leaked Bruce Allen emails that got Raiders coach Jon Gruden fired. Maybe the reporter was asking about the congressional inquiries into the NFL and Washington Football’s coverup of the Beth Wilkinson investigation into sexual harassment in the organization. Or the Washington Post story on the hush money payoff attempts for victims of that harassment. The botched Sean Taylor tribute. All of the above.
Any one of those would have been an excellent Ron Rivera question to ask Ron Rivera.
The coach answered that question about October — a month of “chaos” and “distractions,” he said — with another Rivera question that was brilliant in its simplicity: “Is it hard?” Answering his own question again, he said: “Yeah, it is. But at the end of the day, it really does come down to once we get to Sunday, it should be all about football.”
It should. But there are always too many questions about this football team — including the ones from Rivera.
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.