Tag Archives: Ron Rivera
Washington Football Team, NFL Join the 21st Century
Monday, the sports world got to witness history being made as the Washington Football Team hired Jason Wright to be their team president. Wright, who spent six years as a running back for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals, becomes the first Black person to hold the position in NFL history.
Welcome to the 21st Century, Washington Football Team
Wright got an MBA from the University of Chicago, a psychology degree from Northwestern, and comes over from consulting firm McKinsey and Company. There he led the Black Economic Institute and developed their anti-racism strategies.
His business acumen and playing career make him a terrific fit for the position. That should not be up for debate. What is up for debate is how much credit the Football Team should get.
Washington and owner Dan Snyder have been under fire for decades for their old name and logo which they finally agreed to change this offseason under much pressure. The difference this time compared to other efforts was that it came from sponsors like FedEx making their voices heard. Snyder has even gotten calls from minority owners (some of whom were looking to sell their own stakes) to sell the team.
“If I could custom design a leader for this important time in our history, it would be Jason. His experience as a former player, coupled with his business acumen, gives him a perspective that is unrivaled in the league,” – Dan Snyder per CBS News
If Snyder’s quote above were how he felt, why did it take the sky falling for this to come to fruition? Why in the 100-year history of the NFL is Wright the first? He certainly isn’t the first to be qualified.
And that is where the issue lies. The timing of the move casts aspersions on Wright’s deserving of the role. Rather than focusing solely on his accomplishment warranting it, that shadow of a doubt will follow him just as it has many Black people who assume positions of power. That doesn’t just pertain to the NFL either.
In a league where 70 percent of its players are Black and have been predominantly so for quite some time, this is far overdue. Much of the talk around diversity in the NFL centers around coaching.
While that is a significant issue, getting faces like Wright’s in those upper-level positions is just as important if not more; as we can see, people often hire those who look like they do.
The Washington Football Team's new president Jason Wright says he is the best-qualified person for the job, regardless of his race. (Via @FirstTake) pic.twitter.com/eUuGOhg42D
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) August 17, 2020
That isn’t to say there is a conscious effort to hire one race over another. Rather, all things being equal, comfort with a candidate is more times than not the tie-breaker. This is true for all peoples, we just see the extreme in the NFL, a league with a troubled past when talking race and inclusion in general.
So, yes, we should be celebrating Wright and his historic accomplishment. But we should hold off on lauding this as forward-thinking. After all, in 2020 some would have you believe they don’t see race. Those same people will point to this as a sign of the times changing. What they won’t say is that the decision had to practically be forced upon an organization that was averse to modernizing.
Now with Wright, head coach Ron Rivera, and assistant coach Jennifer King, Washington can finally say they have joined the 21st century. Congratulations!
Cam Newton to the New England Patriots is Perfect
It almost makes too much sense. Cam Newton, Superman, is a New England Patriot. And in the year 2020, this is exactly the kind of move we should have expected. Many did, and yet it still felt like such a longshot. Clash of cults of personality aside, there was always a strictly football-related reason for this to happen. The fact that the actual deal is good for both sides is just an added bonus.
New England Patriots Signing Cam Newton is Perfectly 2020
How Did We Get Here?
What an offseason it has been! We’ve seen a quarter of the league’s projected starters entering 2019 change teams, including a wild four-team swap with New England and 75% of the NFC South. Tom Brady joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the shockwave of the off-season; if only slightly edging the Houston Texans swindling themselves out of DeAndre Hopkins.
Jameis Winston is now backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans and Teddy Bridgewater (Winston’s predecessor) will start in Carolina. Even Philip Rivers going to the Indianapolis Colts doesn’t compare.
Tampa Tommy is like the prodigal son going to the Darkside (which would have worked so much better had he joined the Las Vegas Raiders). Newton to the Pats is like, well T’Challa taking over for Steve Rogers. Yes, it’s on the nose, but it’s so very accurate. How else do you describe the expressive Newton heading to the most buttoned-up operation in the NFL?
Seattle @ Carolina (Wk 15) is also a fun rewatch
No reason why this doesn't work like gangbusters in NE pic.twitter.com/uxCk5GQPiy
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) June 29, 2020
What’s even better is it is two polarizing entities of opposite ends joining into one. The Patriots have been the bully on the block for much of the past 20 years. This, and a generous helping of sketchy deeds, has led to a buildup of resentment from those on the outside.
Newton, for all his charitable deeds, is more known for his scarves and attitude after losing Super Bowl 50.
Neither man is perfect. Brady was directly indicated in his fair share of the scandals during his time in New England. And, if we’re being honest, the worst Newton has done was his interaction with a female reporter a few years back. He laughed at the depth of her question and said it was “funny” a question like that came from a woman.
But on the football field, both of these men have set records.
Why It Will Work
Brady has the edge in accolades, sure. But even he has conceded it is at least equal parts situation as it is his given talent, effort, preparation, etc. Newton, if healthy, offers the total opposite. A supremely gifted athlete, he reached the edge of the mountain top without the level of coach and system he will have around him next year.
That isn’t a knock on what the Ron Rivera Panthers did either, they ran a system they felt gave them the best chance to win. The issue was they operated like Newton was a rookie for too long, not surrounding him with enough talent at receiver and/or a proper offensive line. His development seemed to stall as the Panthers found their formula.
One thing we know about the Patriots, they know the formula changes from year to year. No team has been better at adapting to their personnel.
When I broke down the Panthers offense a couple of years ago, I begged the Carolina coaches to let Cam play like Brady at the line of scrimmage and use his pre-snap ability.
He’s one of the smartest QBs in the league, and now gets to play like Brady. LOVE THIS signing. https://t.co/e9Bq1uOtjP
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) June 29, 2020
Josh McDaniels is a very underrated part of why this will work. He was able to get seven wins out of a second-year Tim Tebow back in 2011. That was ten years ago. But Newton, a former MVP, is far and away a better passer than Tebow ever was.
People also forget the year Newton was having before he got injured in 2018. Carolina was 6-2 with Newton completing 67.3% of his passes for 1893 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 342 yards and four scores on the ground. He over 68 percent of his passes in his remaining six games, but only threw nine touchdowns to nine picks and the Panthers went winless.
What’s The Problem?
That depends on what you thought of Brady last season. He started the season completing 64% of his passes for 2251 yards, 13 scores, and four interceptions over the first eight games. But he finished throwing for 1806 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 4 more picks while completing just 56.9% of his passes. The Patriots went 4-4 over those final eight.
Was that all Brady? He is, after all, in his 40s and has played over two and a half regular season’s worth of playoff games. It’s perfectly reasonable his abilities are in decline.
But New England lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement then lost Antonio Brown (one game) and Josh Gordon (six games) to personal issues. Julian Edelman was still around, but there aren’t many quarterbacks who can overcome that kind of talent drain before and during the season.
#Pats WR Mohamed Sanu to me on QB Cam Newton agreeing to join team: "I knew something was up when you called. This is crazy. I think it's great. I mean it's Cam Newton. He can help the team in so many ways. He's a big powerful leader. All he has to do is go be Cam. He's an MVP." https://t.co/YnVo36fpZf
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) June 29, 2020
Newton’s health will be the biggest deterrent to any success. But he’s been out since September last year and has been seen working with Odell Beckham. Keeping him that way is paramount and dependant upon them either finding upgrades or guys like N’Keal Harry and free-agent addition Marquise Lee stepping up. Edelman and Mohamed Sanu will serve as the vets but the big hole is at tight end.
The offensive line is the bigger concern. Brady took 17 of his 27 sacks over the back half of the year. That line lost center Ted Karras and didn’t add anyone in free agency or the draft until the sixth round. They kept Joe Thuney, though.
The defense underwent a facelift but should be a smoother transition than anything the offense will go through. New England took defensive players with their first three picks and all are expected to contribute early. That’s good with the losses New England suffered at linebacker. Boasting one of the best secondaries in the NFL, though, they should be just fine.
Bane energy all comeback for @CameronNewton pic.twitter.com/6IsVYzAVrt
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) June 28, 2020
Superman is a Patriot
Cam Newton has had to carry his offenses for much of his career, literally. In New England, he will get a chance to be a part of the machine. They will cater the offense to him week-to-week. His athleticism gives them an added dimension they didn’t have (or need) with Brady. He would also be the first non-Patriots draft pick to start for the team since Scott Secules in 1993.
Doubters will point to Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer and say Newton isn’t a lock to start. But as long as he’s healthy, neither the second-year Stidham nor the journeyman Hoyer is beating him out. The Patriots don’t need the publicity this brought (even with the penalties handed down) but Belichick would love the prestige winning with Newton would bring. We know what’s really on the line here.