Ron Rivera says no one was 'pointing fingers' when down 17 to Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
For the first 20 or so minutes of the Washington Football Team's season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, it looked as if Sunday would be no different from many of the Burgundy and Gold's games over the past few years.
Washington found themselves down 17-0 in the second quarter, looking as if they were going to be on the receiving end of a blowout. Then all of a sudden, the Football Team quickly flipped the script, scoring 27 unanswered points to begin the Ron Rivera era with a 10-point victory.
So, how was Washington able to stay the course and turn it around, despite being down 17? Rivera spoke with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay on Monday and said that the comeback was possible because no one was pointing fingers at one another.
"I didn't see anybody bickering, I don't see anybody pointing fingers looking at who to blame," Rivera said. "I saw guys trying to figure out what was going on, how can we correct it and what can we do to make a play."
For much of the first half, Washington's offense struggled to get into a rhythm. At one point, Rivera reached out to offensive coordinator Scott Turner, asking him to simplify the offense so second-year QB Dwayne Haskins could get comfortable.
Turner did just that, and Washington was able to find the end zone just before the halftime break to keep themselves in the ballgame.
"I got on the phone and I talked to Scott [Turner], I said 'Let's get a rhythm. Let's get the quarterback some easy throws. Let's make some decisions easy for him,'" Rivera said. "I said, 'Remember, we don't have a 17-point play. So let's take it one play at a time.'"
On the other side of the ball, through the first quarter and a half, Washington's defense had been playing decently. Yet, a few penalties allowed Philadelphia to extend drives, and Eagles QB Carson Wentz was able to take advantage of a few miscommunications in the Washington secondary.
"We'd get a couple good plays then have a couple of bad plays," Rivera said. "We'd make a big play then jump offsides. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot."
Rivera approached defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and encouraged him to continue to do what he was doing, confident that the mishaps would correct themselves.
"I turned to Jack, and Jack had made a couple of great calls, and I said 'I love what you're doing, man. Stick with it,'" Rivera said. "Jack went right back at it."
The head coach has full trust in his two coordinators and believes the open communication between all of them will help them be successful this season.
"Those are the types of things that are just about communication, communicating as to what I see and what I feel," Rivera said.
When the team came back out after halftime, it was an entirely different group of players. Washington's defense was dominant in the second half. The offense fed off of the defense's success, and Washington ended up putting together one of their most impressive victories in years.
Washington certainly doesn't want to come out flat next week in Arizona the way they did against Philly. The Cardinals have an impressive victory in Week 1 themselves, knocking off the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on the road.
However, there's plenty to build off from Washington's come-from-behind victory on Sunday that should give Rivera and his staff plenty of optimism for the rest of the year.
"I think we're heading in the right direction," Rivera said. "That's for doggone sure."