The Washington Washington Football Team hired Ron Rivera as their next head coach. As head coach of Carolina, Rivera led the Panthers to a 76-63 record over nine seasons, twice winning Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015. Rivera’s Panthers, led by quarterback Cam Newton’s NFL MVP award-winning season, stormed through 2015 going 15-1 before losing Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos. Rivera currently has the most wins as a head coach in Panthers’ franchise history.
Reportedly a five year deal for Rivera, according to Ian Rapoport & Michael Silver of NFL Network.
Rivera comes with a largely defensive background. He was an All-American linebacker in 1983 for the University of California Berkeley before being drafted in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He was part of the 1985 Bears team, which won Super Bowl XX and is widely considered the best defense in NFL history.
Rivera began his coaching career as a defensive quality control coach with the Bears from 1997-1998. He went on to be the linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, defensive coordinator of the Bears from 2004-2006 (the 2005 Bears defense was the top ranked defense in the NFL that season), linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers in 2007, defensive coordinator for the Chargers from 2008-2010 before becoming the Panthers head coach in 2011. He has helped develop many great defensive players, including Jeremiah Trotter with the Eagles, Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman with the Panthers, and many more. Norman thrived under Rivera in Carolina, where he was named first team All-Pro and made his first Pro Bowl in 2015.
The Panthers let Rivera go earlier this December after the Panthers were 5-7. He now takes over for interim head coach Bill Callahan, who was the Washington Football Team's offensive line coach until then-head coach Jay Gruden was fired following an 0-5 start to the ’19-’20 season. Gruden ended his Washington Football Team's tenure as head coach with a 35-49-1 record, which included an NFC East Championship in 2015. Under Callahan, the Washington Football Team finished the year 3-8 to end with a 3-13 record.
Rivera will take over a promising young core of players with the Washington Football Team, headlined by 2019 first round pick Dwayne Haskins at QB. Rivera is the 10th head coach (including interim head coach Bill Callahan) the Washington Football Team have had since 2000.
Also, it’s being reported that Rivera will most likely retain Kevin O’Connell, according to Jason La Confora of CBS Sports.
There are conflicting reports that Rivera will hire Steve Wilks as his defensive coordinator, according to John Keim of ESPN. Wilks was most recently the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns in the ’19-’20 season. Before that, he was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in the ’18-’19 season. Wilks worked with Rivera in the past, first serving under Rivera as the defensive backs coach of the Bears in 2006. He later re-joined Rivera in 2012 as the Panthers’ defensive backs coach, and was promoted to Assistant Head Coach of the Panthers in 2015, and then Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator in 2017.
Statement From The Washington Football Team:
“After several meetings with Coach Rivera, it was clear he is the right person to bring winning football back to Washington D.C.,” said Dan Snyder, Washington Washington Football Team Owner. “He is widely respected around the league as a man of great integrity and has proven to be one of the finest coaches in the country.”
With more than 20 years of coaching experience, Rivera is a passionate and skilled leader who has earned the respect of his players, coaching staff and the community. He most recently served as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers for nine seasons, where he led the team to three straight divisional titles and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera was also recognized twice as the NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, in 2013 and in 2015.
“While I love the storied history of the franchise, I am focused on the future and excited for the opportunity to win football games with this talented young team,” said Rivera. “After meeting Dan Snyder, it was clear we are aligned in our passion for the game and he supports my vision to turn the team around. I look forward to surrounding myself with great people and getting to work.”