Just weeks after getting fired by the Carolina Panthers, the Washington Redskins have hired Ron Rivera as their next head coach; the team announced this past Wednesday. How will Rivera impact the fantasy players in Washington? Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more as we dive into the fantasy impact of Ron Rivera in Washington.

Rivera was one of the most coveted coaches around the league when he was let go by the Panthers, and it’s a bit perplexing that someone of his stature would go to a team that requires a rebuild. Additionally, Rivera inexplicably believes he can work with Washington Redskins’ dysfunctional owner Daniel Snyder. 

Rivera turned around the Carolina Panthers

Rivera compiled a 76-63-1 record in nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He helped transform them from one of the league’s worst teams to one that won the NFC South three consecutive seasons. In 2015, he led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and the NFC Championship before losing to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

A two-time NFL Coach of the Year, Rivera, 57, moved into first place as Carolina’s all-time winningest coach this season. However, with the Panthers sitting at a disappointing 5-7 record following an embarrassing home loss to the Redskins (ironically) on December 1st, Rivera was fired two days later. 

Washington Redskins needed a change

After an 0-5 start this season, the Redskins and head coach Jay Gruden parted ways. The team struggled and performed below expectations under Gruden, who compiled a 35-49-1 record with the Redskins. Assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan became the interim head coach and led the team to a 3-8 record for the remainder of the 2019 season. 

The Redskins also relieved Bruce Allen from his role as president. The franchise is looking to change the current trend of the team not seeing the playoffs since 2015 and having not won a playoff game since 2005. 

Rivera will look to overhaul the Redskins culture

The hiring of Rivera as head coach of the Redskins is a phenomenal decision. Rivera offers stability to a Redskins franchise that sorely needs it. 

Rivera brings discipline from his military family background and his successful playing and coaching career. He has exhibited the ability to build a quality team. The front office team in Carolina has drafted studs in Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Luke Kuechly, and D.J. Moore, and his players play hard for him because they genuinely like him.

Controversial Redskins owner Dan Snyder was sold on Rivera, and he was brought in to help rebuild this team. Hopefully, Snyder allows Rivera the time and space to help build the Redskins back into a winner.

“After several meetings with Coach Rivera, it was clear he is the right person to bring winning football back to Washington D.C.,” said owner Dan Snyder in a statement. “He is widely respected around the league as a man of great integrity and has proven to be one of the finest coaches in the country.”

Who will run the offense for Rivera?

The early indications seemed likely that Kevin O’Connell would continue as the Redskins offensive coordinator. Not so fast. 

Rivera has met with O’Connell, and there is a possibility that he remains on. However, Rivera is interviewing another person for the position. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Redskins are interviewing Scott Turner for their offensive coordinator position.

Turner was the quarterbacks coach under Rivera with the Panthers and helped Cam Newton post a 67.9 completion percentage, the highest of any player in franchise history.

As the Panthers offensive coordinator this season, he led the Panthers to a middle of the pack offense ranking 19th in yards and 20th in scoring despite the loss of quarterback Cam Newton for the majority of the season.

The caveat with O’Connell is that he didn’t call plays until Jay Gruden was fired. The offense had severe growing pains with different quarterbacks starting this season. However, Haskins seemed to get comfortable late in the season. His work with Haskins is believed to provide the edge for the offensive coordinator job.

During the final month of the season, the offense showed signs of greater creativity and productivity. Dwayne Haskins showed signs of quick development as an NFL quarterback, and the three rookie receivers,  Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, and Kelvin Harmon, saw increased targets and production.

It will be difficult for the Redskins to part with O’Connell. I predict that they will retain him as the offensive coordinator and bring aboard Scott Turner as the QB coach.

One aspect of Ron Rivera that does not get mentioned nearly enough is his flexibility and adaptability. He worked with Cam Newton to make him an offensive weapon and brought in offensive minds that designed offenses to fit Newton perfectly. He went all-in in tailoring an offense to fit Newton’s unique skill set. Quite impressive from a former linebacker of the vaunted Chicago Bears defense that won Super Bowl XX. Rivera allowed Cam to be Cam, which directly resulted in Newton being a fantasy stud for several seasons. 

His play-calling is aggressive. He did not receive the nickname “Riverboat Ron” by not taking risks and exploring ways to spark the offense, which indicates the fantasy impact that Ron Rivera will create on this Redskins team. 

Rivera makes fantasy impact with new hire 

Former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said last week that he has agreed to become Rivera’s defensive coordinator. Del Rio, who is viewed as one of the league’s top defensive minds, was in charge of Denver’s defense for three seasons, during two of which the Broncos gave up the second-fewest yards in the NFL.

The Redskins were demolished in the running game, allowing the 2nd most rushing yards, and the 13th most rushing touchdowns. The pass defense was mediocre at best, allowing the 15th most passing yards but allowing the third-most passing scores while creating a total of 22 turnovers. 

The team will switch to a 4-3 defense with a front seven that looks legit. Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat lead an impressive front. Additionally, Rivera and Del Rio will have the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the opportunity to add all-world Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young to this unit and rumors of cornerback James Bradberry leaving Carolina for the Redskins has to have Rivera and Del Rio licking their chops. The fantasy impact of Rivera and Del Rio will have this Redskins’ defense become a legit factor in 2020. Highlight the Redskins defense as one of the best sleeper selections next season. 

How will Rivera impact the fantasy options in Washington?

Washington will be entering 2020, appearing to have both a quarterback of the future in Haskins and a top WR in McLaurin, among other fantasy talents.

One of the significant tasks for Rivera will be the development of Haskins. He showed immense growth as the season went on, throwing for two touchdowns in each of his last two starts. Fantasy football geeks should feel optimistic about Haskins’ future. Given Rivera’s ability to take advantage of a player’s strengths, Haskins should build upon his late-season success and become a fantasy football sleeper in 2020. 

If you were one of the smart fantasy football owners to add McLaurin to your fantasy rosters this season, please take a bow. The former Buckeye had 58 catches for 918 yards and scored seven touchdowns this season with some inferior quarterback play. 

I foresee McLaurin taking a massive step in his sophomore season. Rivera’s offenses recently have had the right balance of taking shots down the field and getting open in space underneath. Think Steve Smith in his fantasy glory. 

Rivera won’t have the luxury of mega-stud Christian McCaffrey ruling the backfield, unfortunately. Derrius Guice showed superstar potential, but he has been unable to stay healthy early in his career. Still, Rivera had a great view of what Guice was capable of in the December 1st meeting between the Redskins and the Panthers. Guice racked up 129 yards and two touchdowns on ten carries. He should be in line for a much more significant role in 2020, assuming he can stay healthy. Adrian Peterson will probably not be back with the team, although he was the team’s leading rusher. 

The issue with the offensive line will be something that Rivera will need to manage carefully. Trent Williams is still in limbo, and the Redskins need Williams to anchor that line and protect Haskins. Look for the team to target the line heavily in the upcoming draft. 

This is not going to be a rebuild that happens overnight. In his first two seasons in Carolina, the Panthers went 6-10 and 7-9, respectively. There is no quick fix button in the NFL. However, Rivera has talented players to build upon. Look at the Washington Redskins for sneaky options during your fantasy drafts or auctions.

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