Ron Rivera is headed into his second season at the helm of the Washington Football Team at a steady, sustainable pace, and he's not about to start sprinting for anyone.
Ignore the fact Washington made the playoffs in 2020. Look past its stout defense littered with high draft picks along its front. Washington isn't going to expedite its extended plans just to find a way through some figurative title window. This regime is in it for the long haul.
"We're not desperate," Rivera told reporters of his team's offseason approach Wednesday. "There's no immediate need to have to, got to, must... What we're looking to do is build a sustainable winning culture and we want to put the football team together the right way.
"A lot of good things happened last year. We did something a little unexpected, which I acknowledge. But at the same time, just because of that, I really don't think you throw the plan away and you start reaching and doing things that you don't need to do right now. I think what you do is you continue to put the pieces of the puzzle in place and hopefully build it the right way and put it all together the way you need it to be."
It'll be a methodical build, then, for the Football Team, starting at the game's most important position. After being forced to turn to Alex Smith last season and watching him post a 5-1 record as a starter, Washington cut him loose, shifting its focus to the remaining signal-callers on the roster: Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke (and Steven Montez, if we're being generous). The former followed Rivera to the nation's capital from Charlotte, while the latter earned his place in the hearts of Washington fans with his gutsy, late-season performances in relief of the injured Smith.
Neither screams franchise quarterback, but Rivera also doesn't seem to be too worried about his club's situation under center.
"I don't feel any pressure about certain things to be upfront about that," Rivera said. "The biggest thing is the pressure is applied by you, you alone, as far as I'm concerned. To me, what we have to do is we have to make what we feel is the best pick and that's really it. There's a lot more that goes into it, too, because you've got to make sure you have the people around him. We're going to go through this very judiciously, and we'll see. But you know, we have time. We really do.
"We have an opportunity to grow it the right way in all three phases. And so, if the quote-unquote franchise guy isn't out there, we're going to go with guys that we believe give us a chance to win. That's really what you do. Do you want to be able to say this is our franchise quarterback? Well, yeah, you'd love to, but you don't know that until the quarterback starts playing, or quarterbacks.
"Once that happens, then you'll know. And so, we just got to continue to go through this, study the players and get the one we feel can become that player. We'll see what happens."
Rivera's team has free agency, which opens next week, and next month's draft to evaluate and potentially address the position. The draft's quarterback class includes a few passers with tantalizing potential beyond the presumed No. 1 pick, Trevor Lawrence. But because Washington reached the postseason, it isn't exactly situated in a great spot (19th) to take a franchise quarterback.
There's always room to move up, or move players around. The potential for offseason madness -- or relative silence, if Washington's research dictates it -- is what makes this period interesting.
It might also make all the difference for the Football Team.