4/7/2020: Ron Rivera

Skins Quotes: 4/7/2020: Ron Rivera

April 7, 2020

Head Coach Ron Rivera

Opening statement:

“Just real quick, guys. Before we get started, I just want to make sure that everybody understands that we send our best wishes to Bobby Mitchell’s family. He was a guy that was a tremendous force in this league. Pretty much a trendsetter and pretty much a guy that really helped break boundaries. He was one of those iconic players. Just so everybody knows, we’re sending our prayers and thoughts to his family.”

On T Trent Williams:
“For the most part guys, it’s one of those situations where we’ve started the process, and during this process, we’ve had several conversations with both Trent and his agent. Being respectful in this situation, we’re not going to really get into details about that for the most part. We are still trying to do that. And again, we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen at the end of the line. He is a player under contract. He is a Washington Redskin, and we’re going to leave it at that and just see how things unfold.”

On trading CB Quinton Dunbar and releasing S Montae Nicholson:
“I think the biggest part in the Quinton Dunbar decision really was after having met with him and having conversations, I just felt that as the situation progressed, he was looking for something that we weren’t prepared to give and that was a new contract. He had a year left on his contract. We didn’t know him and just felt that because of that situation and circumstances – his agent and his attitude just didn’t seem to change. We just felt that we were going to move in another direction, so we decided to move on. We felt good about the fact that we got what he was valued. Fair value for a college free agent player that came out and had played well. He played a limited number of snaps, unfortunately, because the injuries he’s had the last couple years. But that’s why we felt good about the value we got. We believe he’s a quality football player and wanted him to be here. Again, as I said not knowing players, not knowing how they fit or how they’re going to fit into your system. That’s kind of a tough thing to restructure somebody’s contract and give them a new deal. We just felt it was time to move on. Montae, in light of the situations that came up the past couple years, we felt a fresh start for him and for us was probably the best thing to do.”

On the team’s free agency approach:
“What we were looking to do was fill needs. You look at the things and the guys that we have, and I can show you simple examples: Bringing in a guy like [LB] Thomas Davis. I felt like there was a need for a guy that understands the culture that I wanted to develop up here. Thomas fit that, but Thomas is also very productive. I know him personally because he was on my football team in Carolina for eight seasons. I watched him last year with the Chargers. I thought he did an excellent job, still plays at a very high level. I thought he’d come in and help out with a little bit of that veteran leadership on the defensive side. They are a very young group of guys. But more so, more importantly for me is a guy that can help share my ideas, what my belief in culture is, and I think that can help get the message across. I can go down the list of guys. I’ve got my list here just so you guys can see where we are. We felt [LB] Jon Bostic was a guy we wanted to bring him back because he’s a guy that helped lead the defense. He was the MIKE linebacker for these guys for the most part. I believe he has the kind of tools to help lead that group. He’s a very popular player amongst his teammates, so there’s a guy that’s going to add some continued leadership. We went out and got [CB] Kendall Fuller back. Here’s a guy that has position flex in terms of he can play the outside corner position. You can bring him inside. He can come in and play the nickel or play the matchup game. If you get into a situation or dire restraints, he can play free safety for you. We feel good about him as a corner and as a nickel for us as well. We think he’s got some very good value for us as far as we’re concerned. Sean Davis is a guy that we liked at free safety. We think he’s a guy that’s going to come in, compete to be the starter. He’s a guy that we think can match very well with the guys that we have in the secondary already. We feel very strongly about him. And then, you know, we added some other pieces to the puzzle that we just felt that we needed, guys that were going to come in, that were hungry, that were going to compete. One of the things that we tried to do when I was in Carolina, we looked at guys and I.D. guys that were on the cusp of becoming a solid starters. Not a flash in the pan type guy that you’re hoping for, but a guy who’s done it steadily over a couple of years. We I.D. a few of those guys and we went out and brought those guys in and had them become a part of our football team. We feel good about the young guys. We feel good about some of the veteran guys. We think it’s a good mix right now. Again, as we develop and grow, it’s not going to happen overnight. That’s one of the things that we feel we have more time to be patient and develop these guys.”

On his level of concern for not being in the building now and for the remainder of the Draft process:
“Well I’ll be honest with you, nine years ago, I went through the same thing with the lockout in terms of not getting to work with guys. It was a whole different set of circumstances in this world right now and we have a whole new normal. But just having gone through it at one point and time and just kind of saying, ‘OK, at least the one thing we’re going to be able to do once we get the clearance from the League and from the NFLPA, we’ll be able to start working with our players virtually and then we’ll go from there.’ I’m not too concerned because I’ve kind of gone through this and just knowing that the best thing we can do is be able to work with our guys virtually to make sure we make contact with them as soon as we are and just follow all the rules as to what our time frame is going to be with each player and the positions and the groups. The biggest thing is to just be ready when the time comes to get back on the field with them. If it’s some time in late May or June or heck, not until training camp and whenever that is. I’m not overly concerned because I’ve gone through it. I just think the most important thing is to be prepared and be ready and get a jump on it when you get the opportunity. As far as the Draft is concerned, it’s interesting. I was watching the CBS Morning Show and it’s just kind of neat to watch how they’re doing it. I was thinking to myself this morning, ‘You know what, that’s kind of the way we’re going to have to approach it is the way that they’re doing it.’ They’re going in and out and they’re talking to the different reporters doing their different things and then going back to the main folks and they’re doing their talking. I kind of imagine that’s what we’re trying to hope to have as far as that’s concerned. If that’s what we can do and kind of show everybody that you can function within the guidelines being set by the CDC and the federal government and the state government in terms of being safe, then great. Hopefully we can do that.”

On WR Amari Cooper and TE Austin Hooper:
“Amari was someone that we chased very hard all the way up to the very end. He decided to return to Dallas. We were in it and we were talking about the substantial money. But at the end of the day, he made a decision he felt was best for him and we respect it. That’s a tough one. We would’ve loved to have him as part of what we’re trying to do. We believe he would’ve been a great veteran presence in the room, especially for those young guys that played last year and had success with this football team. We would’ve felt good about having a veteran guy like that who’s had success in this league as part of what you’re trying to do. The Austin Hooper thing is we really weren’t in it as much as it’s been portrayed by a lot of people. The truth of the matter is he set the market as far as tight ends were concerned, and that’s something we most certainly weren’t prepared to do. We wanted to get into it, but again, once that money climbed very high and very quickly for him and good for him, we decided to move on.”

On signing players with injury histories like S Sean Davis and CB Ronald Darby:
“Well I think the biggest thing is these are guys that had success, limited success in terms of being healthy and being on the field. But when they have been on the field, they’ve been very good and that’s the thing that we like. We think Sean’s a guy that’s on the cusp. He’s a guy that’s probably ready to take the next step. We had a guy named Mike Mitchell when I was in Carolina. He was a guy we found in Oakland and we signed him, brought him in and had him be a part of our team and low and behold, he blew it up. He had a great year and ended up signing a big contract going to Pittsburgh. That’s kind of what we’re hoping for with a guy like Sean is the kind of guy that wants to come in and be a part of what you’re trying to do and can grow into it and hopefully get him resigned and get him taken care of as we go forward. Ronald Darby is a guy I like in terms of he’s got a good skillset. He’s very quick. He’s got a quick twitch. He plays with vision. Some of the things that we want to do are going to give him an opportunity to have success because he is going to play through the receiver to the quarterback with vision. His anticipation is tremendous. He’s a guy that we’re really excited about just because of the success he’s had. Granted, he’s had an injury history, but we’d like to be able to hopefully keep him on the field as much as possible because we just think he creates real positive matchups for us. We like what we’ve done in terms of bringing him in and bringing [Kendall] Fuller in as guys that can match up and move with guys that we currently have on the roster as well. We feel good about that group.”

On doing research for the Draft without attending Pro Days:
“That’s where you’re going to rely on your scouts. Those guys that have been watching the last three years. You will rely heavily on their opinions. I have a lot of trust and belief in what [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] and our college scouts have been doing. I had a chance to be around those guys when we were at the Combine. I really loved the way that they handled things. I listened to them talk about the players currently that are on the board. We’re actually going to get started tomorrow with our positional coach readings in terms of they’ll be reading what they now saw on the tape. Now, we’ll rely on the coaches’ point-of-view, their perspective of how these players play, what their skillsets are and whether or not we believe they’ll fit into our systems. It’s not just about being a great football player, but you’ve also got to be a guy that is part of the fit because a lot of times, all you go off of is their numbers not off of their football ability, whether or not their football ability will transfer into fitting into your system or style of play. You’ve got to be really smart and diligent about that. We feel good about that. We’re going to find out just how good we are in terms of being able to evaluate, whether it’s from the college scouts perspective or from the positional coach perspective. It’s a little bit of going back to the way it used to be done. So, we’re challenged with that. Like I said, I’m excited. I really do think Kyle Smith has done a tremendous job the last few drafts, just looking at the young talent he’s brought in.”

On a competition between QBs Kyle Allen and Dwayne Haskins Jr.:
“I think it will be a good competition I really do, mostly because having been around Kyle for two seasons I’ve kind of watched him interact with the quarterbacks that were in the room. You know he was in the room with a very strong personality in Cam Newton and Kyle handled himself tremendously. And we had Taylor Heinicke and he was Taylor’s understudy. I just know what kind of person he is, and just feel that he’s the kind of guy that’s going to go into this, he’s not threatened by anything. What he’s really concerned about is doing the best job he can and if he ends up starting and being the guy, great, he’ll be fired up about it. And if he’s not, he’s in the backup role, he’ll be fired up about that as well. I mean he’s the right kind of person for that room and that’s what I felt really strongly about and that’s why we were able to make the deal with Carolina to bring him in. He’s got that real good sense about him, that being part of something is better than being an individual.”

On the tight end position:
“Well I think there’s a lot to explore. It’s one of those things that in the system you love to have a guy with Greg Olsen type of ability, who is a primary ball catcher, a guy that goes out and finds the hole, finds the crease, can separate when the ball is in the air at the right time, and that’s one of the things that Greg Olsen did very, very well for us. You know Logan Thomas is a guy that we see some glimpses of that type of athletic ability. Pete Hoener our tight end coach felt very strongly about this guy’s abilities, mostly because he thought he was a very smart and savvy football player, he’s a tremendous athlete. And he’s just learning and getting the position right now. Remember he is a converted quarterback, a guy that has a skillset that is a little unique because of his understanding of the way offenses work. We brought in Richard Rodgers, a guy that has had success when he was in Green Bay playing with Aaron Rodgers. I got to know Aaron a little bit and one thing Aaron always thought that this was the kind of guy who was a safety valve, a go to guy, that just knew how to get himself open in position and I can also say every time we played against Green Bay, Richard had a good game. He’s another guy that we just feel that can come in and compete and be a part of what we’re trying to do. This offense is a multi-personnel offense, we’re not going to just sit there in eleven personnel, three wide-receivers or ten wide-receivers, we’re going to go back and forth. We’re going to go with one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends type of offense, so having multiple tight ends on your roster is going to be very beneficial to you so these guys we all believe are going to fit. We like the guys that were here to begin with. And again, we look forward to getting them ready.”

On the potential of targeting a tight end in the draft:
“Well it is a position we like. Can we target them? Yeah we could, but we also feel that there are some other positions in this draft that are available that would really fit some needs for us as well. Again, all options are open to us when it comes to each of those rounds that we’re picking in. Obviously we don’t have the second round pick which has a little bit of a hole in it, but having the first and the third and having in the early third is still a very valuable pick so we feel we could fill a couple of really good needs with our first and third round pick. So we’re excited about it, looking forward to it, so we’ll see how it all unfolds.”

On how working from home is going for him:
“You know the one thing that I can say is, my family and I we packed up and moved last week. I had a lot of dead time here. We had the house here in Virginia. I was here by myself, we had no TVs. Nothing has been hooked up, it was hooked up yesterday for the first time. So really all I had was my laptop, my iPad, and all the video tape that they sent me so I’ve been working on that. I finished my reviews, I got all of my write ups ready to go and as I mentioned earlier, we will start our coaches readings tomorrow. We will work, I believe five straight days with the coaches trying to get through all of their readings in terms of our preparation. Kyle and I and a couple of other guys will talk about the board and the way that it’s set, Kyle’s got it set preliminarily, it’s just an interesting setting the way it is. The way that we’re doing it is a little bit different than the way that I’ve done in the past, but it’s something I actually enjoy, just a different way of things being done. It’s going to be interesting, I really do like the process, the way it’s been mapped out. I just think we’re getting some pretty good insight. And as I said also, we’re going to rely on our scouts to give us their evaluations, these guys that they’ve been watching for a period of time. And then we’re going to have to rely on the coaches and make sure that their evaluations are really about the fit, whether this guy can play in the system that we have or not.”

On bringing players in on short-term contracts:
“There are opportunities to prove it. A lot of times guys will come in, you offer guys certain things and they’ll look at, ‘what happens if I perform, what if I do my job, what if I’m great and I’m locked into a little bit longer contract.’ A lot of these guys want to come in and say, ‘Hey give me an opportunity to compete, let me prove myself.’ Then, we’ll see which I think is great. I love that guys are betting on themselves, that they’re going to come in and prove that they belong, that they deserve an extensive contract. So again, that’s what we’re trying to do is find out who fits us. A lot of these guys are up for the challenge, so I’m pretty excited about that. Sometimes, you need to fill the void. By bringing in some of the guys that we have, we’ve filled the void, but we’ve also felt that these guys are going to come in and compete, they want to compete so I’m excited, I really am. I’m excited about the guys that have decided to come and be a part of what we’re trying to build.”

On his relationship with Dan Snyder:
“I’ve probably talked with him daily to every other day. And really it’s about what we’re doing, what we’re planning on doing, what’s happening, more so than anything else. I think the biggest thing that he’s really asked is really that he wants to be informed, more so than just turning it over and turning a blind eye. I think he did the laissez faire thing where he was hands off, out of the way, so he just wants to know, and that’s all that it is. We talk though things, I’ve asked him for advice on certain things and certain issues. For the most part he’s letting us do our thing. He’ll call in and just ask how things are going, what do you think, where are you guys now, more so than anything else. Like I said the conversation is daily, to almost every other day. It’s been good, it really has. He’s not here to impose his will or anything like that he’s here just to make sure we have the tools that gives us the opportunity to do our jobs.”

On giving fans a timeline:
“Well I think the truth of the matter is there is no time frame, there really isn’t, but I do know that it’s got to happen soon, I can tell you that much. I understand I get that part of it. But it’s not going to happen overnight. What we need is we need everybody to come in and understand what the vision is and they’ve got to buy in to what the vision is going to be. Once they’ve done that, it gives us an opportunity to be successful. We also need to have the fans get behind us. It’s one of the things that I was very fortunate to happen for us when we were in Carolina. Our first two years we showed promise. We gave fans a reason to come out and cheer for us. And then by our third season things turned around and really were headed in the right direction. But I will say this too – in my first three years I made a lot of mistakes as a head coach. I mean I was a first-time head coach and I made mistakes. And I think that was part of the growing process. I’d like to believe now that I know and I’d like to believe that I’m not going to repeat and make those mistakes, so hopefully like I said it’ll happen in an expeditious manner, in terms of being successful on the football field. But I’m excited about it, I like the young, core players that this team has added in the last three drafts, would like to add a few more to that core, and then get them on the football field and see what happens.”

On what comes to mind when he hears that players want to play for his coaching staff:
“I’m excited about that I am and what that means is that these guys have called around and asked some of the other players that have played for these guys – what do you think about John Matsko the offensive line coach, what do you think about what Scott Turner does on the offensive side, what do you think about Coach Del Rio and the way he’s an aggressive play caller. Those are the things that are exciting because that just tells you these guys reached out to their compatriots on other teams and asked, ‘Hey what do you know about these guys?’ That is what I think is exciting is that they’ve taken the time to find out and hopefully everybody just understands that at the end of the day, it’s what we do as a team that’s going to matter more than anything else.”

On his plans with the number two pick and potentially trading back in the draft:
“For me the thing that you have to do is, no matter where you’re picking in the first round, well it does matter. When you’re in the first five spots, those have to be immediate impact guys. They’re going to be guys that you’re going to put on the field right away and they’re going to play. That’s always been my kind of philosophy, I’ve always believed in playing young guys if they’re ready to play. And if you go back and look at my history every year, we have at least one rookie start the season off as a starter, so I’m not afraid to play young players. Secondly, if you’re going to make a trade and you’re going to go back, that guy that you’re going to take at that spot has to make the kind of impact you need to validate missing an opportunity to take a player that’s a high impact guy. In other words, if you’re going to pass up player A, and you go back and you take player D, player D has to be equal to player A, you know what I’m saying. Because if player A is going to play for you for ten years, and player D might not, did you really get value or did you just get a whole bunch of picks. So you’ve got to be able to sit there and say that the next guy that I’m going to take is going to be that high impact guy. And that’s what I’m looking for, that’s what I believe we need. We need a guy just to come in and really change our football team. To me there’s a few guys on that board that are those kind of players. I’d like to believe in the back of my mind I know what we want to do. But you’ve got to go through the process. You’ve got to go through what we’re going to go through for the next five days with our readings, with our coaches and then what we’re going to do the next five days after that with Kyle and I going through the board, resetting the board, looking at it, going through our own mock drafts, what happens if they do this, what happens if this happens, what if such and such calls what are we going to do. So we’ve got to be fluid with that most certainly. Do we try to make a deal to get back into the second round is somewhere along the line as well. There’s a lot to think about, there really is and again, having to do this virtually, that is we’ve talked as a group the last three days, four days, about what everybody needs to be aware of and what everybody needs to be ready to happen.”

On the most unique part about working from home:
“Trying to learn how to use all this technology. That’s probably the biggest thing more so than anything else. I mean I am truly the proverbial trained gorilla that I come and push a button and turn something and it’s right there in front of me so having to learn to adapt to all of this I think is probably one thing that’s been helping me out a lot. At home you have a lot of time to do a lot of things. Sometimes I get a little concerned that I’m overthinking some things. But one thing that did help me is we literally just are moving our home. We just got done unpacking. The packers literally just left this morning, so now we’ve got to rearrange our house and we’ve got to try to do it in a careful way as well to keep the process moving and trying to figure this thing out.”

On the status of LB Reuben Foster and QB Alex Smith:
“Well the last time I saw them both they were both right in the middle of their rehabs and both working very, very hard. Alex is one of those guys that’s driven, and what we’ve done I think in bringing Kyle in is add a little insurance as far as that one’s concerned. As far as Reuben Foster is concerned, you know he’s done a great job when he was around, when I was around actually, when I was able to see him. It looked good, it looked like he was working his way back, and again the one thing that we’re doing right now is we’re not counting on anybody yet because we haven’t had a chance to watch them, we don’t know. And that’s the hard part about right now is that you just don’t know, you don’t know what kind of shape your players are going to be in, you’re hoping that they are all going to be the professionals that you’re paying them to be. Hopefully that there’s a little bit of personal pride that steps up, kicks in, and gets them going. This is uncharted territory, so we’ll see how it all unfolds. Like I said hopefully our guys are doing what they need to do and hopefully we’ll be ready for them when the time comes.”

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