Ron Rivera seeks to instill player-centric approach

Ron Rivera didn't take a sabbatical after being fired from the Carolina Panthers, and instead jumped right back into the coaching fray, taking over a Washington Redskins team in turmoil.

In his introductory press conference Thursday, Rivera said he has the support of owner Dan Snyder to instill a player-first disciplinary approach to an organization long adrift.

"So why did I choose the Redskins? ... I can tell you right now it's not the money," Rivera said. "If I wanted the money, I'd still be out there right now trying to pit a couple teams against each other. I took this job for one simple season: because Dan Snyder came to me with a very interesting perspective. The reasons why some teams win and some teams don't. He told me the common factor in that transitional success for] teams like [Patriots, the Seahawks, the Chiefs, some of the other ones -- was the decision to take and make a coach-centered approach. Not an owner-centered approach or a team president or a GM but a coach-centered approach.

"I told Mr. Snyder that I appreciate the fact that he believes the head coach matters. I told him I would be honored but under one condition: it would have to be a player-centered culture, something I truly do believe in. My response is to get the most out of the players, to work with them, to teach them, mentor them. If I have to do it one-by-one I will most certainly will do it. I've done it in the past and I'll do it again. I'll do what I can to help these young men become not just the players we want but the men in the community we need. These are the guys who can help change things not just on the football field but in this world. I really do believe that. I was fortunate to have that in Carolina and I'll work to have it here in Washington."

In nine seasons in Carolina, Rivera compiled a 76-63-1 record, was named NFL coach of the year twice and made one Super Bowl trip (a loss in Super Bowl 50 to Denver).

Known as a player's coach, Rivera was lavished with a heaping of praise from former players after being fired from the Panthers this season, which underscores the respect he brings to Washington.

The main goal for the 57-year-old coach is simple:

"Win the Super Bowl," he said. "The only reason why you become a head coach in this league, in my opinion is to win. That's the bottom line. If you go for any other reason, you're wrong. And that's what I want to do. I'm not just saying that because I'm at a press conference. I say it because I truly believe it. I've been very fortunate; football's been a big part of my life. This is going to be my 34th year in the league. I've seen a lot, done a lot and one thing that I have had is the success to be on a Super Bowl championship team. I'd love to give these guys that opportunity so they know what it feels like, what the experience is when you're standing on the podium -- that's what we want to work toward. I want to work toward that going forward. And I want our fans to know that's what we're working for. I understand they're disgruntled, I understand they're upset and they deserve to be. ... So we've got to start winning."

The Redskins haven't done much winning of late, finishing third or fourth in the NFC East each of the past four seasons, and coming off a three-win campaign in 2019.

The key to Washington's future hinges on quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who struggled out of the gate but showed promise down the stretch before suffering an injury that cut his season short. Haskins owns a huge arm but took a boatload of sacks and needs to work on his footwork and reading defenses heading into his second season.

Rivera, who helped nurture Cam Newton in Carolina, believes Haskins has the makings of a franchise QB.

"I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback. I do," he said. "It's a process, though. I'm not going to say it's going to happen overnight, but I've been fortunate that several years ago, we drafted a guy as the No. 1 pick and we had planned. What we're trying to do right now is develop that plan for his development as we go forward. Also I think there's a couple of good veteran quarterbacks that obviously get some opportunities to play as well. We won't know until we get ready to open up in September. So until then, everything is just a process. It's a working process. We can't get ahead. We've got to stay to the plan and make sure we're preparing ourselves properly."

Rivera's first job is instilling a culture in Washington that has been absent for years under previous administrations.

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