Ron Rivera bet on the wrong quarterback: Carson Wentz


Ron Rivera wanted this moment. He traded his quarterback specifically for this moment. This week, he repurposed his quarterback as a starter and hoped, hoped and prayed that he would be confident and ready to perform in this moment. And that plan failed.

The biggest moments of Rivera’s three years as Washington’s coach came down to his choice of quarterback. He’s—ahem— Effect People who want Carson Wentz. He’s been the quarterback’s greatest defender, starting in March, when he committed draft money to Wentz’s services, and continuing through last week, when he benched Taylor Heinicke in Sunday’s must-win game against the Cleveland Browns. play.

Rivera bet himself that his offseason gamble would come back and pay off with a playoff berth. And that decision failed.

The riverboat he sailed into town three years ago is sinking. Rivera’s idea of ​​saving the season, his team’s chances, and the shot, maybe it’s his job to get Wentz to hand out the float — which he quickly threw for 3 interceptions.

After Washington was winless in its first three games, when it still had a playoff berth, Rivera wanted a “spark” and turned to Wentz. But in the Commanders’ 24-10 loss to the Browns, Wentz looked uncomfortable and unreliable as a starting quarterback in the NFL. His first pass attempt went over the head of running back Jonathan Williams. It might turn out to be one of his best passes of the day.

The entire league knows the scarlet letter on Wentz’s scouting report: He’s holding the ball too long. Rivera knows this too, we should assume, as he calls to revive Wentz’s career and bring him back to town. One season later, the Indianapolis Colts, disgusted with Wentz, opted for a quick divorce after last season ended in back-to-back losses that cost the team a playoff berth. But the Colts giveaway is Rivera’s gold medal, as he expressed so enthusiastically the last time Wentz won a game as a starter.

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“I’m the one who pulls out the paper, looks at the analysis, looks at the tape. … Okay? That’s what makes me mad because this young man shouldn’t have that all the time,” Rivera said after the Commanders’ Week 6 win. Said.

Look, I have nothing against Wentz. He’s been an easy target, and in his previous starts (Philadelphia, then Indianapolis), some members of the media have attacked him for non-football related matters. There is some moral confusion when fans come first. 4 jerseys to celebrate Deshaun Watson, of all people, while Wentz had to jog off the field with his head down as the home fans booed him.

But although Wentz, 30, is a “young guy,” he’s a shabby mess on the football field. Rivera should know when he’s—sorry, boys— Effect The guy who watched the Wentz tape and decided to trade him.

After his performance — 16 yards, 28 yards, 143 yards, three pick-and-rolls and three sacks — Wentz wore the corner booth that belonged to the team’s starting quarterback. He puts on his cowboy boots and grabs his burgundy sweatshirt, one that matches the team colors perfectly. He does look like what Rivera thinks a quarterback should be. The measurements make you salivate: 6-foot-5 with 10-inch hands allowed him to pull the ball over the goal line and complete a 96-yard, 21-play field goal to close out Sunday’s first half. But beyond his physical prowess and resume, Wentz also displayed the body language of an injured quarterback.

His second pass attempt of the game was a force on Terry McLaughlin that was completely unnecessary. After his second interception, when Williams had the safety check option open for him to double-cover, the fans started the “Hein-ick-e! Hein-ick-e! chants. Throughout the game, They comfort themselves with this plea constantly.Judging from Browns linebacker Reggie Ragland, the Hynek fan club is still deep in the Washington locker room.

Commanders’ playoff hopes all but dashed after ugly loss to Browns

“If you know football, you know [Wentz] There is a slow release. And you know Heinicke gets the ball out very quickly,” Ragland said after the game. “Some of the guys I know on the team, they’re going to like Heinicke more because they know he can get the ball out. However, you can also see it in movies. They play each quarterback differently. “

Wentz spent the rest of the day running from cover, making panicked decisions and missing his targets. Towards the end, Wentz wiped his sweat as he returned to the sideline after yet another pick, but the towel stayed on his face a little longer. Instead of walking the sidelines and shaking his fist at teammates who let him down, Wentz donned a white hat and stuffed his big paws into hand warmers.

“We had the ball on the last possession of the first half, and we just felt like we could keep it going again,” Rivera said of Wentz’s performance, “and we didn’t.”

Washington (7-8-1) is now guaranteed a sixth straight season without a winning record. All of that should change, especially this year, Rivera’s third. It’s a big year, as the team should have grown to the point where they’re building a culture and an identity. Combine that with a scorching interior defense, a young and talented offensive weaponry and Rivera’s selection of quarterbacks, and the Commanders should have taken a leap in contention for a playoff berth. Last week, when hopes were still high, Rivera talked up the possibility of making the playoffs this season.

“I think value is more important than anything else … For me, this is for you guys: Get it,” Rivera said, trying to lightly dunk on reporters. significance: Before you, big bad media! We made the playoffs despite being the most dysfunctional team in the league!

Unfortunately for Rivera, the real trap moment came Sunday.

Angry fans booed him as he walked onto the field to shake Browns coach Kevin Stefanski’s hand. A few miles away in Detroit, the Lions are handling business and completing half of the doomsday scenario. Wins for the Lions and Packers in the late afternoon game, and a loss for the Commanders would end Washington’s wild-card hopes.

However, Rivera froze when asked by reporters if he would consider starting Sam Howell in the regular-season finale if Washington was eliminated at the end of the day. He stared at the reporter, silently thinking about this possibility, and was embarrassed for three seconds.

“Can we be eliminated?” Rivera asked seriously, completely unaware of this scene.

At one of the most critical moments of his tenure as Washington coach, Rivera didn’t realize just how bad Sunday’s game was. He traded for Wentz. He founded Wentz. He trusted his quarterback when the team needed him most. And it all failed.

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