Commanders' Rivera accidentally crushes Wentz's play


I think sports fans sometimes misunderstand how difficult it is to give press conferences multiple times per week for months on end the way NFL head coaches do. At some point you're bound to stick your foot in your mouth and say something you didn't mean to say, or a way that doesn't accurately convey your message.

On Monday, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera had one of those moments.

The day after Washington's fourth loss in five weeks, a crushing defeat with multiple chances to win the game at the goal line in the final minute that instead ended in a Carson Wentz interception:

Wentz was actually productive on Sunday, but as we've seen time and time again he tried to do far too much in a big moment and wound up hurting his team. The first two plays of that series were near-interceptions as well, and it just felt like a matter of time until he threw a pick or made a mistake.

Which might be why Rivera, when asked why his team is 1-4 while the rest of the NFC East is succeeding, decided to point a pretty obvious finger.

Here's the interaction:

"REPORTER: The Giants, they're off to a faster start. The Eagles, the Cowboys. They've all kind of been rebuilding too the last couple years, and it feels like they're kind of farther ahead. Why do you think the teams in the division are farther ahead at this point?

"RIVERA: Quarterback."

Well DANG, Ron, tell us how you really feel!

Now, look: I think I know what Rivera was actually going for here. He's had instability at quarterback since he arrived in Washington while the other three division teams have had (more or less) stability. He just worded it extremely poorly.

But if you interpret as him griping about Wentz, it's... hard to disagree. While Daniel Jones isn't exactly a world-beater, he's usually able to play within himself if that's what his coach is asking for: don't make some huge mistake, manage the game, keep things moving forward. In Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts you have two quarterbacks who are (or in Hurts' case at least seem to be) dynamic, franchise-level playmakers. And even Cooper Rush is showing signs of a legit starter-level QB.

Wentz, meanwhile, looks like the same player he's been for four or five years: someone who repeatedly puts himself and his team in bad positions with poor decision making and a general lack of situational awareness.

After a back and forth with the reporter about Prescott's availability and Rush's skill level, Rivera continued:

"RIVERA: The truth is, this is a quarterback-driven league. The teams that have been able to sustain success, they've been able to build it around a specific quarterback.

"REPORTER: You chose the quarterback here, though, so do you have any regrets about that?

"RIVERA: No, I've got no regrets about the quarterback. I think our quarterback has done some good things. There's been a couple games he's struggled. You look at his numbers from yesterday, he was okay. His numbers he's had throughout the year, there have been times he was very solid. And then we had the unfortunate Philadelphia game and he struggled a little bit in the Dallas game, but the way he performed yesterday it shows what he's capable of. We chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed towards him."

That's kind of better, even though Rivera largely sounded frustrated with what he's seen from Wentz through five games.

I would be shocked if Wentz is the starter by the end of the season. The Commanders have Sam Howell waiting to show what he's got, and they need to know if they can build around Howell or if they should be thinking quarterback come draft time in April.

What a mess.

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