The two-time NFL Coach of the Year went to the nation’s capital after 8.75 seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
Such is the odd tenure because Perry Fewell took over Rivera in the last four games of 2019.
— Ron Rivera (@RiverboatRonHC) August 16, 2021
The Panthers finished that season at 5-11, and Matt Rhule took over head coaching duties a year later.
Meanwhile, Rivera got hired as Washington’s Head Coach and General Manager.
One of those jobs alone entails much work, let alone giving both roles to one person.
Then there’s the revolving door of starting quarterbacks in 2020.
We have released QB Dwayne Haskins pic.twitter.com/KRrWxWra7E
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) December 28, 2020
Dwayne Haskins was Washington’s starter until Week 4, even if he threw three interceptions in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns.
The week after, Haskins had a career-high 314 yards in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
But before Week 5, Rivera made the switch to Kyle Allen as starting quarterback due to Haskins’ lazy work ethic.
Worst, Haskins broke the league’s COVID-19 protocols when he made reservations for a family friend at a hotel in New York.
On the other hand, Allen became the team’s starter until Week 9, when he dislocated his ankle against the New York Giants.
Ron Rivera on the quarterback carousel…"It's frustrating, hopefully we can go forward. We like the guys that we have. We will see what happens."
— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) September 13, 2021
Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith took over from Allen and started from Week 10 to 14.
The quarterback who had 17 surgeries in his right leg also had an appearance in Week 5 after Allen went out with an arm injury.
Unfortunately, a bone bruise forced him to leave early as Haskins and Isaiah Wright took turns under center.
Washington’s quarterback carousel throughout Rivera’s maiden season with the team intensified until the final game.
Haskins, Heinicke, Smith, And Fitzmagic
Haskins started Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks and threw two interceptions in the loss.
Before Week 16, Haskins got involved in another COVID-19 protocol breach when he attended his girlfriend’s birthday party without wearing a face mask.
Despite the violation, Haskins started against the Carolina Panthers but got pulled in the fourth quarter for Taylor Heinicke.
Haskins ended the Carolina game with 154 yards and two interceptions.
Smith started their final regular-season game with a division title and playoff berth at stake.
“Washington is for sure the class of the division… Fitzy is going to have a monster year.” – Alex Smith on NFL Countdown pic.twitter.com/DpH8af4Rxt
— WASHINGTON FOOTBALL (@HogsHaven) September 12, 2021
The number one pick in the 2005 NFL Draft threw two touchdowns in their 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, Smith cannot play in the NFC Wild Card Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of his bone bruise.
Heinicke, the team’s designated quarantine quarterback, started for the first time and displayed an inspired performance.
While Washington lost the game, the quarterback taking online college classes finished with 26 completions for 306 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Taylor Heinicke was in the XFL…as a backup…18 months ago pic.twitter.com/20RUFsxAAd
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 17, 2021
Fast forward to 2021, and even that performance isn’t enough for the former Old Dominion standout to win the starting quarterback role.
Rivera had to bring in Ryan Fitzpatrick while Heinicke signed a two-year, $4.75 million deal as a backup.
But in another twist of fate, Fitzpatrick injured his hip during their season opener versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
Washington lost the game, but Heinicke will be the team’s starter for a while after Fitzpatrick is on injured reserve.
This time, he won in his second-ever NFL start with a 30-29 classic against the New York Giants.
Ron Rivera giving out game balls and talking second chances postgame:pic.twitter.com/LOQwntkwn2
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) September 17, 2021
Heinicke’s status is uncertain once Fitzpatrick returns.
When that day comes, Ron Rivera has another critical decision to ponder.
Rivera’s never-ending search for that definitive starter will continue to derail Washington’s long-term success.