Skip to main content

Ron Rivera still interested in coaching, enjoyed return to defensive play-calling in 2023

Ron Rivera's time in Washington came to an unsurprising conclusion at the end of the 2023 season, marking the second time he's been fired as head coach in his career.

This time, his future seems much less certain. It's not often a coach gets three opportunities to lead a team, meaning Rivera's most likely path back to a sideline is as a coordinator, a scenario he's interested in making reality.

"I have several opportunities right now," Rivera told ESPN. "I just want to make sure it's the right one."

Rivera added he's had multiple conversations with individuals and teams, but offered nothing more on what might be ahead. More importantly, he explained how his assumption of defensive coordinator duties following the in-season firing of Jack Del Rio reminded him of how much he'd missed coaching football at a granular level.

"I would've loved a different model just because, in hindsight, now you really see how much more time you spend on personnel and as a coach, that's not necessarily what you want to do," Rivera said of the hierarchy in which he operated as the man in charge in Washington. "What I really enjoyed more than anything else the last five weeks was just being right in the middle of everything. Now your only focus is just that one thing. That's what you do; you want to teach."

Rivera admitted he made some mistakes in his final season in Washington, including in how he presented his sunny outlook on quarterback Sam Howell's potential, which he eventually realized amounted to a public anointing of the second-year passer as the franchise quarterback. Rivera explained he'd unintentionally placed unnecessary pressure on Howell, who he still believes can be a starter in the NFL.

"He didn't deserve to have that put on him," Rivera said. "He's a good young quarterback, has some talent and some ability, and I think that's something I should have backed off on."

Now unemployed, Rivera has had time to reflect. He knows each year is valuable, and believes he can still contribute as a coach for a team, even if it's not as a head coach.

He might even prefer to be an assistant, calling defenses and working closely with his players instead of managing the entire operation. Luckily for him, that's his most likely path forward.

"Sometimes you do have to take a step back," Rivera said. "You take a step back you learn and grow from it. It's like I told other players, if you look at this year as a lost year, you're [hurting] yourself. You should look at it as a year to learn and understand why things happen. This was probably the greatest learning experience I've had in a while this year. I mean, a lot of things came to light at certain times this past season that I think going forward will really help me."

Related Content