Why Rivera won't view missing playoffs as 'a blown opportunity' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
A defeat on Sunday would mean that Washington will finish the regular season on a three-game losing streak and, more notably, out of the playoffs. Should that result occur, fans will be devastated and players will miss out on some valuable January experience.
But if you think Ron Rivera will be discouraged if his team falters in Philadelphia, you're wrong. The coach undoubtedly wants to beat the Eagles and advance past Week 17, yet if his first campaign with the club concludes late Sunday night, he'll still enter his second with a majorly upbeat approach.
"Why would I look at it as a blown opportunity?" he said on Thursday during a thought-out answer on the topic. "Nobody expected us to have this opportunity.
"This, to me, is house money. That’s the way I’m going to look at it. I want our guys to understand we came a long way. We did. Despite everything that happened in 2020, this football team has come a long way."
That type of thinking may be difficult for some to immediately engage in if Washington finishes at 6-10 as opposed to 7-9 and hosting an opponent on Wild Card weekend. Do try it for a second, though.
In a broad sense, there have been noticeable steps in crucial areas, and those steps won't vanish with a negative outcome. The Burgundy and Gold have displayed a resilience that simply didn't exist in 2019, the defense has, finally, mostly matched its performance with its potential and Rivera appears to have the power he was promised when he first assumed the job.
Take it from an individual level, too, and note all the growth that's unfolded along the roster. Kam Curl isn't an unknown, Day 3 pick; he's a steal of a safety. The Antonio Gibson Project is coming along quite nicely. Montez Sweat has more than come through on his first-round status. JD McKissic and Logan Thomas have revealed themselves as tremendous free agent finds. Chase Young sure seems to be somewhat effective in his duties.
There are still numerous issues that must be figured out, including the fact that Washington is once more without a long-term candidate to fill that position that asks for footballs to be thrown well and leadership to be exuded. Terry McLaurin could use some assistance out wide, meanwhile, and the defense would benefit from more dynamic linebackers.
Rivera also allowed that he'd be "disappointed" if this type of season transpired further into his tenure. In no way does he crave for this to be the peak of what he does with the organization.
Even so, Rivera is resolute that his rebuild has started the way it should've, and that the ensuing phases will be even better.
"Is it exciting?" he said. "Yes. Hell yes, it really is."
He's certainly biased when it comes to that assessment — but it's also certainly true that there are reasons to harbor some newfound hope in Washington's future.