Ron Rivera says QBs make the difference in the NFC East

Before the 2021 season ends, Ron Rivera made it clear that Washington is in the market for a new quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick was there He was injured in the season openerAnd backup Taylor Heinicke, a fan favorite, was particularly underwhelming in an offense where coordinator Scott Turner relied on the run.

“The third season is when you take another step,” Rivera said in January. “And, hopefully, we’ve done things at other positions that get us guys ready to roll. … That’s the big thing we have to decide.

Plug and play was Washington’s approach. Generals Traded for Carson Wentz In March, they built a roster that could protect him and hoped to provide plenty of playmakers. They don’t think the transition will be without hiccups, but Wentz believes he can succeed as a veteran — and that he won’t need extra time to adjust to the NFL as a rookie.

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But now, five games The Carson Wentz Experience, the Chiefs are 1-4 and on the verge of a breakout as the NFC East passes them by. The blame doesn’t fall entirely on Wentz’s shoulders, but solutions to the generals’ problems seem more elusive than ever.

“Be more consistent,” Rivera offered Monday. “One thing we can’t do is take penalties — silly penalties. … We’ve got to keep working on it. It’s interesting because when you put all the pieces together that you want and you get them for that period, it starts to happen. So we’ve got to keep working hard.”

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Washington’s fourth straight loss A 21-17 buzzkill A two-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the final 19 seconds was a window into the Commanders’ conundrum. In the spurts, Wentz is the quarterback they need, with his deep passing ability Big plays. But he and the team built around him have found new ways to lose each of the last four weeks — self-inflicted ways.

“The frustrating part is, ‘OK, that’s what we did last week; we can’t do that.’ And when it’s new, that’s frustrating,” Rivera said. “We fixed it and now we have something. That contradiction is what gets you.

Rivera’s frustration after the loss to the Titans was palpable and seemed to intensify Monday as he raised questions about his team’s condition.

“We played well enough to win,” he said. “We didn’t play consistently. … You give up two big plays and then you miss two opportunities. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s the truth.

A self-described optimist, Rivera rarely shows his anger publicly. But finally in early 2020, his first season in charge, he became very upset with his team’s performance. Washington started 1-3 before Rivera decided to bench young quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

He said at the time that the move was necessary for the development of the rest of the team — and it panned out. The NFC East was the dregs of the NFL that year, and two things helped Washington’s late push into the playoffs: Alex Smith’s horrific leg injury and the division’s poor play. Washington (7-9) became the fifth team to go into the playoffs with a undefeated record.

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But the Generals find themselves in the same predicament two years later, with no clear answer at quarterback and a roster overwhelmed by its own mistakes. At the moment, the NFC East is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, which puts Washington in even more of a hole. The Giants and Cowboys are 4-1, and the Eagles are 5-0 as the NFL’s only undefeated team.

“The quarterback,” Rivera said when asked why Washington’s division rivals are winning.

“The truth is, it’s a quarterback-driven league,” he added. “And if you look at teams that have been able to sustain success, they’ve been able to build it around a certain quarter.”

Eagles fit the bill. They benched Wentz and then traded him to build around Jalen Hurts, now one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

However, the Cowboys have won four straight games with Cooper Rush — an undrafted player they signed in 2017. cut In 2020 – Filling in for the injured Dak Prescott.

“But they started with Dak, they built around Dak, and the offense built around Dak,” Rivera argued. “Their backup is a guy who is very committed to what they do.”

Could Doug Prescott’s injury have helped the Dallas Cowboys offense?

In New York, the Giants worked for years to build around Daniel Jones. Last season, they were the worst team in the NFC East. Now, despite several injuries, they are enjoying success under first-year coach Brian Dabol. On Sunday, they upset the Green Bay Packers in London.

“I don’t have any regrets about our quarterback,” Rivera said of Wentz. who appeared on the injury report Monday with right shoulder problem. “I think our quarterback has done some good things. He’s had a couple of days where he’s struggled. … [But] The way he acted [Sunday], which shows what he is capable of. We chose him because we trusted him.

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In March, Rivera said several times that Wentz was needed — but the latest report refers to the commanders At first he tried to trade To Jimmy Garoppolo of San Francisco. He said Wentz fits what the team is trying to do and he could be the long-term answer at quarterback.

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“He has to work with those pieces. It’s like walking into a new job,” Rivera said Monday. “The work is already there. … You walk in, you’re the new guy. You have to learn them all, right? You have to learn to work with everyone, learn to do your job with everyone.

But as the generals spiral, Rivera’s rebuilding time is running out. The Year 3 leap has yet to happen, and if Washington suffers another loss in Chicago on Thursday night, any hope for one might be good.

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