Even at 2-6, Ron Rivera explains his reasons for optimism originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It's undeniable that Washington has struggled this season. The Football Team is 2-6 at the season's halfway point and set to start their third quarterback of the year this Sunday in Detroit.
Despite all of that, Washington head coach Ron Rivera maintains optimism for his team in the long haul.
I don’t get discouraged because when I look at the roster — and I can go over it with you right now — you can see how many young guys are playing. Guys that have one, two, three years of NFL experience and that’s it. I believe the number’s right in between 25 to 28 players that we’re playing that have first, second and third-year experience. That’s important, why? Because going forward, those guys will have game experience, legitimate game experience, under their belt and that’s going to make them better.
Rivera's got a point.
Outside of the quarterback position, Washington is letting young guys play all over the field. While everyone talks about No. 2 overall pick Chase Young's work on the defensive line, fellow rookies Antonio Gibson and Kam Curl are getting a ton of game experience. Draft picks from the former regime are getting plenty of work - guys like Geron Christian and Cole Holcomb and Jimmy Moreland. The Football Team got a breakout game from undrafted wideout Cam Sims, and other undrafted wideouts Isaiah Wright and Steven Sims have gotten plenty of opportunities.
In some ways that is crucial for a team to build for its future. And regardless of the NFC East race, Washington is still focused on the future.
That became obvious during the trade deadline. If Washington really wanted to chase a division title the team could have added a few veterans for the stretch run, try to steal an extra win to get into the postseason. Rivera didn't do that, which is more telling than any explanation at a press conference podium.
Remember the first rule of the late, great Rich Tandler: Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do.
Rivera is focused on building this Washington team for the long haul, constructing a playoff contender year after year, not intermittent, random success.
Playing young guys is a step in that direction, an evaluation of what players can help and what positions need more work.
"When I sit here and look at these names I go: ‘Wow, these are some young guys that are playing. These are guys that don’t have a lot of NFL experience going out there right now and gaining that NFL experience that’s going to help us.’ I really believe that," Rivera said. "Like I said, though, maybe I’m a little bit overly-optimistic."
The head coach might be a little too optimistic on the impact of his young players, but deep down, Rivera knows the truth.
He signed up for a rebuild, and while the state of the NFC East requires the team to try to win the division, Rivera's true goals are down the road.