Ron Rivera says struggling Washington Football Team is a 'work in progress'

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Ron Rivera says Washington is still a 'work in progress' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Despite only winning seven games last season, the Washington Football Team was expected to take a step forward in 2021.

The defense that was elite to close the 2021 campaign was poised to improve with the addition of Williams Jackson III and first-round linebacker Jamin Davis, while the offense looked ready to take a step forward with better quarterback depth and more weapons at wide receiver like Curtis Samuel and rookie Dyami Brown. 

But three games in, and Washington hasn't lived up to any of those aforementioned expectations. Injuries and a tough schedule have had something to do with it, but even at 1-2, the team's record has been better than its performance

"This team is a work in progress, OK?" Ron Rivera told the Sports Junkies Tuesday. "By no means did we arrive after last season and that's the thing we all have to understand. We're not going to show up and be who we were last year. We have to continue to work. We have to continue to grow. We got to understand that we have to play disciplined football."

Perhaps the silver lining for Washington entering Week 4 is that its struggles don't appear to be a talent issue. They have plenty of capable playmakers on both sides of the ball, but the execution hasn't been there. Chase Young still doesn't have a sack this season, the defense can't get off the field on third down, and the offense can't convert any third downs either (32nd in NFL).

The key for Rivera is taking what happened last week, learning from the mistakes and moving on to the next game. And if he can't get his players to do that, he's ready to accept responsibility. 

"If after watching tape yesterday as a team, and our players haven't gotten it, we've got a lot of work to do," Rivera said. "I would like to believe that yesterday's tape, a big opportunity to review, how bad we played as a team and coaches as a group, then there's something wrong. That'll disappoint me even more. I believe this was a good message for us, it's a good opportunity to learn and grow from it. And if we don't, that's on my ass. That's on me. I'm the head coach and I'll be responsible to that."

The good news is it's still early in the season and the NFC East is a forgiving division when it comes to early season slumps. Just last season, Washington started 2-7 and won the division. They probably won't be able to get away with that again, but it goes to show how different the conversation could be in a month or two. 

"After this week, there's still 13 games," Rivera said. "And then as far as I'm concerned, it's just one at a time. It's one at a time. When you start focusing and worrying about what you have to do, what you got to do, what you must do, you have a lot of stress on yourself. It's about what you want to do. You got to go out there and you got to want to play hard. You've got to go out and you've got to want to win. That's the way we have to approach things."