If the Washington Football Team needs an object lesson about resilience, they don’t have far to look — their coach got an IV at halftime so he could keep going as he undergoes cancer treatment.
And as he looked back on their win over the Eagles in the opener, Ron Rivera said that he liked the fact that a number of his players overcame slow starts, and were able to finish the fight.
“They got smacked in the face early. They really did. Excuse me for using that phrase. They got hit pretty good early. I think that they kind of snapped,” Rivera said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “[Guard] Wes Martin took a pretty good shot early on and wasn’t as stout as he needed to be. I just went up to him and said, ‘Hey, drop your anchor, young man. You can play this game.’ Geron [Christian, their left tackle] got lazy on another play, and I said, ‘Hey, keep moving your feet.’ I thought they responded. I really did. . . .
“I think both Wes and Geron epitomized guys that started slow but all of a sudden realized: ‘Shoot, I belong here. I can play.’ That was pleasing to watch.”
Rivera has the benefit of a veteran defense, bolstered by second-overall pick Chase Young (giving them five first-rounders on the line). He acknowledged that they might have to lean on that group early, as a young offense develops.
And from quarterback Dwayne Haskins (who stepped up to give the halftime speech while Rivera was getting treatment) to a number of other players, Rivera liked the progress he saw.
“I’m not quite sure if we know exactly where we are offensively because we’re so young and we’re so new to it,” Rivera said. “One of the plus things about being on the defensive side, if you look at the guys that made plays yesterday other than Chase [Young], that front was here. It’s just a matter of putting those guys in the position to have success.
“Offensively, there’s . . . a lot of new people, a lot of new faces at wide receiver, new faces at tight end, at running back. We’ve got a young quarterback. So we may have to win that way for a while. But don’t count out the possibility of our offense catching fire and learning and understanding and growing into who we can become.”
Rolling the dice with Haskins rather than acquiring a known commodity at quarterback could be a defining decision for Rivera’s early time in Washington, but so far, Rivera is seeing the things he hoped for, from Haskins and the team in general.