“We play for each other. It’s about us as a team. Eleven guys doing one thing at a time, not one trying to do 11. Do your job to the best of your abilities and we win.”
Head coach Ron Rivera delivered these words to his players as they prepared to take the field for their season opener. We know that thanks to the wonderful Amazon Prime “All or Nothing” series, which followed Rivera’s Carolina Panthers during the 2018 season. While it was a different team during a different year, it shows viewers the mindset Rivera wants to establish with his teams.
Washington clearly hasn’t performed on a level anywhere comparable to the Philadelphia Eagles over the last decade or so, but if all eleven guys are doing their part and playing for each other, the results will be there. Believe in your teammates and believe in the system. Sounds simple, right? But what happens when you find yourself down by three scores before halftime? Will the players stick to the plan? Or will the same selfish and self-destructive tendencies that have doomed this franchise for decades begin to surface?
That’s what was so enjoyable about Sunday’s come-from-behind victory in the season opener — while they started the game looking very much like the same, old NFC East doormat for most of the first half, Washington refused to revert back to their typical lowest common denominator. This isn’t Jay Gruden’s football team. Greg Manusky isn’t walking through those doors to hold back these players. We have no clue how Rivera will be remember once his days in D.C. are over, but this was a wonderfully perfect debut for the 58-year-old.
Eight sacks by seven different players. Franchise records set. First win in a home opener since 2014. And a respectable showing against a franchise that has dominated Washington for far too long. This wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but eleven players clearly did the job to the best of their abilities, and they won.