What to make of these comments from Ron Rivera on Washington's linebackers

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Peter Hailey
·3 min read
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What to make of these comments from Rivera on Washington's LBs originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Ron Rivera made an interesting comment about Washington's linebackers in a Thursday press conference that could mean it's time to re-evaluate the notion that the position is one of the team's most pressing needs, which is a narrative that's developed over the past few months.

“I like the position we have right now in terms of the guys," Rivera told reporters. "We would like to replace the [Kevin Pierre-Louis] loss more so than anything else. Having said that, I do like what Jon Bostic brings to the table. I do like Cole Holcomb.

"Again, last year you guys know I was critical early on," the coach continued. "Then as the season progressed and you saw those guys coming together and get it, you walk away feeling pretty good about their performance."

Based off those words, Rivera doesn't sound desperate to overhaul that part of the roster's depth chart; as nice of a role player as Pierre-Louis was, if that's Rivera's biggest goal when it comes to addressing the middle of his defense, it should be a relatively easy one to accomplish.

That calm approach toward linebacker is evident in how Washington has handled free agency, too. Though veterans like KJ Wright, Eric Wilson and BJ Goodson remain available, Rivera and the front office have chosen to stand pat. They did re-sign Jared Norris and also bring in David Mayo, but those two are low-profile backups. 

Plus, it is worth remembering that all 11 players on Jack Del Rio's side of the ball had to grow accustomed to a scheme switch. Rivera and Del Rio initially weren't thrilled with how the members of the second-level performed in terms of plugging gaps and reacting to what the defensive line did in front of them, but the overall unit picked it up during the playoff push, and the linebackers were a part of that effort.

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"As we go forward, do we have the depth?" Rivera said Thursday. "That’s the thing we’re looking at."

Again, that doesn't necessarily come across as a man in charge who's searching high and low for reinforcements at the place he once patrolled.

But, to be fair, he did ultimately conclude with this open-ended statement.

"We’ll talk about where we are," Rivera said. "That could be a position that we may grab a player or two before the draft."

Even after making splashy moves involving William Jackson III and Curtis Samuel, and applying the franchise tag to Brandon Scherff, Washington still has enough cap space to ink someone like Wright, Wilson or Goodson. And that doesn't even take into account their first- and second-round picks later in April, where they could end up with a lauded prospect.

When zooming out to review all of Rivera's Zoom session with the media, the above quotes didn't pop as much as his take on Ryan Fitzpatrick entering camp as the top quarterback or why he's so enthralled by Jackson as a corner.

Even so, his thoughts might've offered a hint that the expected reconstruction at linebacker will turn out to be more of a slight touching up. Or, on the other hand, he could be going for a total misdirection and preparing to pluck a pro contributor soon as well as a potential difference-maker in the draft.

How's that for insight?