Remember when Ron Rivera says the 3rd year is when you should take another step?

Throughout the offseason, Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said he expected his team to take a leap forward in 2022. Rivera noted that his team took a step forward in the third year when he was in Carolina.

After a 1-4 start this season, though, many weren’t convinced and believed Rivera was in over his head. His coaching staff was criticized, and some wondered if the constant off-field issues out of his control had worn Rivera down.

Not Rivera. He believed and stuck with his process. And most importantly, his team believed in him.

The Commanders are now 7-5 after Sunday’s 19-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons. It’s Washington’s sixth win in its last seven games. Washington currently holds the NFC’s final playoff spot with five games remaining.

After Washington’s win over Atlanta, Rivera was asked about the scrutiny he received earlier in the season.

“No. No, that’s my job, and the truth of the matter is the reason I didn’t waiver was because I’ve been through this before,” Rivera said. “This is mirroring what we went through in Carolina, and I’m sorry to bring it up, but that’s what happened. In year three, it came together, and that’s kind of what you hope for, is that you get to a certain point, everything comes together, and it started to come together. The guys are playing the way that we believe that they are capable, that we’re trying to get across, that this is what they can do, this is what they can be, you know. They can go out and beat the best team in the league, you know, when we beat Philadelphia at the time, and then we can play a tough, scrappy team like this and be able to survive it.”

In Rivera’s first three seasons in Carolina, he won six, seven and 12 games, respectively. With the Commanders, Rivera won seven games in each of his first two seasons. He now has Washington at seven wins with five games remaining.

A lot can happen in the final five games, but make no mistake, the Commanders are a much better team. Sure, the quarterback remains unsettled for the long term. However, Taylor Heinicke is minimizing mistakes, and the Commanders are leaning on a stout defense and a strong running game. It’s a recipe for success.

Washington has built a good roster. It’s not a perfect roster, but that’s what the offseason is for. Some of Rivera’s offseason moves have panned out, while others have not. That’s all a part of team building.

If Rivera can lead Washington to wins in at least three of its final five games, he should absolutely be considered for NFL coach of the year. Where this team was after Week 5 as compared to now, is a complete turnaround.

And the head coach deserves plenty of credit.

 

 

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire