That’s the only word that comes to mind when I think about the newly-named Washington Football Team and the off-season they had.
But it’s a new era in Washington, and that “culture change” Ron Rivera preached so much about during the off-season, immediately came to fruition.
The Washington Football Team rallied for 27 unanswered points on Sunday, erasing a 17-0 deficit and stunning the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. It was Ron Rivera’s first win as head coach for Washington, and just like his teams during his 9-year tenure at Carolina, Washington showed grit and took care of the football.
The game was definitely a tale of two halves as the Eagles dominated early on, led by a heavy pass-rush and a pair of touchdown passes by Carson Wentz. Under a different regime, Washington would’ve folded, but on Sunday, Washington didn’t give up, slowly crawling their way back into the game, baiting Carson Wentz into a couple of interceptions that led to touchdowns.
Dwayne Haskins may not be the long-term answer in Washington, but he showed Sunday that he can abide by the Riverboat Ron philosophy. Although he only finished the game 17 for 31 with 178 yards passing and a touchdown, he protected the football, played it safe, and didn’t commit any turnovers. Haskins may be the utter definition of a game-managing QB, but to Ron Rivera, that’s music to his ears.
Washington won its season opener for the first time since 2018 and it’s first home opener since 2014. It was an emotional win for Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma during the off-season (Rivera has said the cancer is in the “early stages” and is considered “very treatable and curable”).
Washington also displayed the trademark Riverboat Ron defense. Washington’s defensive line absolutely destroyed Philly’s O-line, sacking Carson Wentz 8 times and holding the Eagles scoreless when it mattered most. We knew Washington’s D-line was going to be good, especially with stud defensive end Chase Young now in the mix, but on Sunday they showed a glimpse of how dominating they can be.
There’s still a long road ahead for Washington, a team still in re-build mode; but one thing is certainly sure: Washington has the right guy in Ron Rivera.