Sports & Culture Media

Washington Football Team

Media Release

September 14, 2021

Head Coach Ron Rivera

On if there is a new theme with the team with QB Taylor Heinicke starting after breaking down practice:

“Not necessarily. I just think that that’s who Taylor is and that’s kind of how the guys respond to who he is. Whether he broke it down or not, it’s one of those things that we talk about, anybody can lead. So it was his opportunity. So he stepped up.” 

On why he thinks the Defensive Line made simple errors in loss:

“I think they were anxious. They wanted to make plays more so than anything else. And you watched the way they played. It’s not like they got knocked out of it. It’s not like they immediately jumped out of it. It’s just, they saw something and tried to make something happen. And part of it is the discipline of what we are, and that was something that we explained to them and just tried to get them to understand that, hey, the play doesn’t care who makes it. You get an opportunity to make a play, make it, but don’t try and create it. Because if you do, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to make mistakes. And that’s eventually what happened to us. It wasn’t just at that position; it was several of our positions.”

On how much input QB Taylor Heinicke on plays and personnel on the field:

“Well, I think [OC] Scott [Turner] is going to listen to him. I think what’ll happen is, what most coaches do after each day, they go over the tape, they talk about what worked and what didn’t work, what looked good and what didn’t look good. And a lot of times, one of the things that you always ask about too when you put in game plans together, at least I know that’s what I did. And I believe Scott does that. Because I know [Former NFL Coach] Norv [Turner] did that is he always asks the quarterback, what do you feel best with. I used to ask the defensive players, what do you guys like best? What do you feel like best? What do you communicate best? What do you do best? So you’re going to get that. That’s nothing new, it’s just, most quarterbacks and coordinators work very well together in terms of what they’re going to do.”

On when you can trust a young QB’s instincts:

“Well, I think it’s just from what you’ve seen. I mean, we’ve seen Taylor do it, you know, in three different situations; last year Carolina, and then what he did the other day was pretty impressive as well. So I think you’re going to trust him enough to know what he likes and doesn’t like. I think you’re going to trust him to know what he thinks he can do well. I think that’s where he is. I think that’s where we are with him. And I’ll say this too, when you have a young quarterback, one of the things that you do tend to do is based on what you’ve seen. You will tend to call what you think he does best more so than anything else. And I think that’s one of the things that I appreciate about Scott, because what Scott does really well is he game plans. Then he does things that are best suited to the people he has on the field.”

On what QB Taylor Heinicke learned from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick:

“Well, I think some of the things that you watch, and you watch how Ryan throws the ball, where he throws the ball to the receiver. So I think that’s one of the things that you can really appreciate because very seldom did you ever see Ryan lead a receiver into something bad. Especially in practice, he understood where to throw the ball where the ball needed to be thrown. And I think that’s something that all young quarterbacks learned from when they watched the veteran.” 

On if he has made the biggest jump from when he was in Carolina:

“I think just understanding the game even more so. His importance and the fact that he doesn’t need to, to put himself in harm’s way. I think that’s one of the things, if you watched the way he played, he’s learned to be patient and take what’s given to him. I think he has a really good feel for when he takes his shots to.”

On what he likes about the usage of S Bobby McCain, S Kam Curl, and S Landon Collins:

“I like the way they all work together and understand the game. Being able to roll guys in and keep guys as fresh as possible really can benefit you. I think when you watch when Kam comes in because of Kam’s versatility, you can watch him make a play strong or free. He has some ability to come down in as the nickel, he can run with a lot of the wide receivers, he can play on the tight end. He has that kind of edge to him. When you watch McCain, you think Bobby’s got a very good eye for the ball and communicates very well. And then with Landon, you’ve got a very physical guy. That is some of the best things he does down in the box. So, you know, you have an opportunity to use all three guys and use their talents.”

On WR Deandre Carter’s big punt returns:

“I think one of the things that you can do when your special teams are really rolling, whether it is punter, punt, coverage, or kickoff or kickoff coverage. If you’re in kickoff coverage or punt coverage and you can get them pinned down inside the 20th, that really helps. It’s hard to go 75, 85 yards consistently. Then on the inverse, if you can get the ball out around midfield, somewhere between the thirty-five [yard line], that’s a good start for your offense. That’s one less first down they have to get. That creates opportunity, creates momentum. There’s nothing more exciting than watching the ball get returned to midfield somewhere around the 50. And now your offense goes out with little spark too.”

On what has allowed Giants QB Daniel Jones to be successful against Washington:

“He runs well with the ball. He’s a dynamic runner. He’s a quarterback that can take advantage of that. One of the things that we can’t do and expect to win is to have the turnovers like we did last year. We got to protect the football, be smart with the football and take advantage of some of the opportunities we can create. So, then that’s been it. He’s got a good arm, strong arm quarterback who throws the ball. We’ve got to keep him contained to keep him in the pocket.”

On T Sam Cosmi learning from his tough matchup in debut:

“I thought Sam played well, I did. Based on some of the things that you look at, sure. There were pressures given up again to your point, look at who he played against. And I thought he had some really good moments and he’ll learn from those things. Whether he has success or failure, he’s going to learn. The one thing that did happen that when you watch the tape, you studied, a couple of times he got anxious, and his technique broke down. He kind of reverted to some of the things that you saw in his college tape. And that’s one of the things that he’s got to continue to work on, trust in his technique. That’s probably the biggest lesson he learned, because when you watch the issues he had, a lot of it was caused because he got anxious. He reverted, and this one thing it’s something the young guys are going to have to experience. The only thing that builds experience obviously is doing it. I told you guys last year, we talk about it in Carolina, what we would call 5,000 reps. And that’s really what you’re looking for is more and more opportunities.  The more and more reps you get, the better you’re going to become. The more second nature those habits will be and the more consistent you will be as a player. And that’s really what you’re looking for from offense alignment is you want to see guys play solid, consistent football, and do it the way, they’ve been coached. With Sam, he got a little anxious, but, you know, most certainly wouldn’t throw him to the wayside, I thought he had a good game. I thought he, for a rookie coming up against one of the elite pass rushes in his leg, I thought he held his own and did some good things. He is only going to get better. And that’s the exciting thing for who he is.”

On if there is any extra significance to playing the only division game until December:

“Partly because we’re 0-1, partly because it is a division game, and partly because we won’t play another division game till December. So those are the importance. You don’t want to go down 0-2 and then have to go to Buffalo and face a very difficult Buffalo football team. What you want to be able to do is go out and play well and win a football game. It does a couple of things for you because it is a division game. But you know, we have to go out and play our abilities, play to what we’re capable of and really play smarter than we did last week.”

On if the team understands the importance of this game:
“I believe they do. I believe they understand that in this world, you only get so many opportunities, and you only get so many that you can kind of let slip. After that, everything else is important. Every one of them is important.”

On starting faster offensively:  
“Well, I think the big thing is we just got to continue to work and get better at what we’re doing. We moved the ball to certain situations and then we have a couple of unforced errors more so than anything else. And that’s on us. We can’t take away our opportunities. We can’t make them more difficult than they are already. That falls on us as a football team. We have to be smarter.”

On RB Antonio Gibson:
“Well, I think he’s ready to handle it, but it was also part of the flow of the game. When the game’s going to go that way, that’s what you can expect. It could be a different set of circumstances this week, so we’ll see what happens. That’s the hard thing about when you play in the preseason, there really aren’t the kind of consequences there are now. So you really don’t get a chance to create an ebb and flow that tells you, ‘Hey, look, we can grind it out. Let’s keep feeding them the ball or we got to open up, we’re down, we got a score.’ Those are the things that you don’t get the opportunity to truly have until now. And so these first few weeks is really when you’re discovering and learning and trying to understand, but while you’re playing these first few games and trying to learn, you’ve got to make plays and you’ve got to win football games. It’s that simple.”

On Giants QB Daniel Jones and trying to force turnovers:  
“Yeah, we just got to force them, create them. I think first of all, one of the things you gotta be able to just keep him in the pocket because his athleticism and ability to run. He’s dynamic. And again, a guy that can throw on the run is also a guy you got to be concerned with. We know based on some things we saw from last year, keeping them inside the pocket is important.”

On the defense fixing the inconsistencies from Week 1:  
“Well, I expect it to be fixed now. I mean, to me, it was more of a matter of being disciplined. That’s the thing we talked about. This defense, the way it’s designed, it’s about accountability. You have a gap of assignment. You have a coverage assignment, you have to do it. If not and they find it, we’ll know. That’s part of it. As I’ve always said before, we also have to make sure we’re putting players in the best position to have success.”

On his expectations

Yeah. They should be. There’s no reason for it to change. For the most part, it’s the same front. It’s a good group of linebackers who can run and we talk about being improved in speed. Yeah, I expect us to be better.”

On building consistency on the offense:  
“Well, I think one of the things is because of how we practice, how we prepare. One of the things that we do is we roll guys in and out. We make sure, especially during training camp, that everybody gets an opportunity to work with a different group. If you’re a third string guy, we’re going to play with the twos. If you’re a two, we’re going to play with the ones. That’s how guys get opportunities to find out. Several years ago, we had a player that we got out of Ohio State – an offensive lineman. He was a third string guy. We did a bunch of one-on-one drills and he looked terrible. And then through injuries, a couple of guys got hurt, and all of a sudden, he got put into with the first group. We realized, he’s not an individual player. He plays better in that group. The guy ended up starting, the guy became an All-Pro player and ended up signing a big contract. Unfortunately, he left for somebody else. He’ll tell you, the only reason is because he got an opportunity to show us what he could do. That’s what we have to do during OTAs, mini camps, training camps. We got to be able to roll these guys in and find out. That’s how you build the cohesiveness. That’s why having Taylor come in, everybody says, ‘wow, are you concerned?’ No, I’m not concerned because he has done it with that group of guys. The same thing with Kyle [Allen]. Kyle’s done it with those group of guys. Those guys know who they are. So for now, there’s confidence, but we’ll see how things go on Thursday night.”

On if QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can still be in meetings with his injury:
“He can be in the meetings and do all that stuff. I mean, he was there today and getting his treatments and stuff like that. We’ll continue and we’ll go from that. There is no timeframe in terms of his return. We will put him on injured reserve a little bit later. Right now, there is no urgency in terms of timeframe. That’s one thing we won’t do with injuries. We won’t tell you guys he’ll be back in a week or two because you never know how it is and we don’t want to put pressure on players.” 

Tyler Butler