All right, so Ron Rivera apparently came to the realization thanks to an interview he did with Albert Breer. I don't think it was Albert Breer or somebody else from Sports Illustrated that, hey, this Sam Howell guy, he's good. Wish I'd have known earlier. So as I bring in Grant Paulson, 106.7, the fan in Washington, Grant and Danny show, my question is, didn't Ron, didn't they draft?
Howell, didn't they scout him? It's been a run of interesting things that Ron Rivera has said. It certainly has. And this is kind of the latest in the bang your head against the wall, scratch your forehead, foot in mouth Rivera moments.
I'm not really sure why these are happening as frequently as they are now, but here we are. It was an odd comment, yes. It was an interview with Albert Breer to your point. And essentially what I think he was trying to say was we are really pleased with and impressed with how good this guy is. And we weren't sure what we had when we drafted him in the fifth round. Here's the problem with that. Number one, you said the quiet part out loud, right? I don't want to know that the football people in my building have DBs coming to their offices all season long to tell them how good the third quarterback is.
And they didn't really believe them or decide to kick the tires. Number two, you had a second round grade on the guy. So I get that everyone says, oh, he's a fifth rounder. He wasn't drafted to be the future.
There was no reason to start him. Your quarterbacks were Taylor Heinecky, who's a journeyman who turned into a fringe starter back up here for a couple of years, was extremely pedestrian. And Carson Wentz, who was much of the last season was a disaster with him.
So it's a tough, tough read if you're a commanders fan. And it's not surprising. We've kind of heard this before, but it's said by Rivera in a way that makes you think, do I really trust this group that brought in Fitzpatrick, had that implode, braided all that they did for Wentz, rolled with Kyle Allen and Dwayne Haskins for a year. It's just been such a disaster at the quarterback position.
Grant Paulson, Grant and Danny, 106-7 fan in DC. So the funny thing about Howell, and you go back to last year and Ron did everything he could to not play him. And I thought I heard, at least I saw a clip online of Pat McAfee saying that Taylor Heinecky actually went to Rivera to tell him to start. I mean, I can't imagine is that true? That it was Heinecky that actually suggested that Ron give him a start in week 18? So this is some speculation, but this is also based on information that I have from people that were around. I think that that narrative is just incorrect.
Has to be. It is one that the team, for whatever reason, and that Rivera, in my opinion, is putting out there. And the idea is that Sam Howell essentially advocated, excuse me, that Taylor Heinecky advocated for Sam Howell to start after Sam Howell was originally supposed to be a backup for the final game of the season.
Here's how that played out for people that don't remember. Rivera at the beginning of the week said that Taylor Heinecky was going to start the game. They were eliminated from playoff contention with the final game upcoming against Dallas in a lost season. They were still not going to play the fifth round pick who led all quarterbacks and passer rating in the preseason. And who we now know, apparently players were coming to the office of the head coach who put over based on his scout teamwork all year long.
So let that simmer for a second. But early in the week, they decided that it was going to be the Heinecky show again. And that they were going to basically bench him at halftime or move on from him at halftime and play how for the second half of the game. What I was told at the time, what they had kind of suggested publicly without saying it was they were a little worried about Sam Howell facing Dallas's starting defense because Dallas actually needed the game. Right.
And Michael Parsons and their heat seeking missiles would be out there. And so what they have said, what Rivera put out there is that essentially how came to him as this great teammate and said, excuse me, I keep saying how Heinecky came to him as this great teammate and said, you got to play this how guy he's awesome. What I think actually happened was that Taylor Heinecky was on the precipice of hitting free agency in his last game. Before that he was playing okay against the 49ers and they benched him to go back to Wentz because that was always Rivera's master plan. So he would have then basically been benched consecutive games at the end of the season before he was a free agent. And his point was, if you're going to play me, play me. But if you're already telling everyone I'm getting a half like a preseason game, and then you're going to bench me for Sam Howell, play Sam Howell. That's what I think the conversation was.
Not some altruistic, you know, I don't want to play because this guy is better than me, give him my jersey coach. By the way, interesting that you use the phrase master plan in in front of going back to Carson Wentz. Here's the other part that I think a lot of people, a lot of people will remember this. It was that, it was, I think it was the after the following, the previous week, when Ron was reminded that, you know, if you lose, you're eliminated from the playoffs, and he didn't know that. He was unaware of the scenarios and maybe that's just good tunnel vision, but I don't think so.
Good tunnel vision is an all-time spin. I mean that was, that is doing some heavy lifting. So regrettably, I've got to tell you, AIG, I was the guy that asked that question after the game. So if you go back and listen to that audio and he's going back and forth and he goes, we can be eliminated. My actual question is fittings it is for this conversation was if you get eliminated today, are you going to play Sam Howell next week?
That's what's actually really fun about the question because of the fiasco that ensued, Heinecke, Howell, what's going to happen? He changed his mind midweek. So this was already a talking point all week long leading up to the week 17 game on Sunday after the game. But, but his answer was we can be eliminated after they just lost a gotta have it game against the Browns when the entire point of the whole week on the radio was seasons on the line.
If they lose on Sunday, they're almost certainly getting eliminated. And then the head coach and the de facto team president, because it's a coach approach where he also runs the front office, said, we can be eliminated. And at first I kind of thought it was a joke.
It was clearly not a joke. And then I, if you listen to the auto, I say, well, yeah, Minnesota, I don't remember what had to happen, loses the green Bay or beats green Bay, whatever it was. I think if, if green Bay beat Minnesota, they were eliminated and he went, huh?
Oh my God, Oh my God, what is happening? Like this is the guy that runs the entire football operation. It would have been nice to know what do you have done anything differently in that situation? Probably not right. Because theoretically you're, you're forming your best roster. You're starting your best players anyway. But if you know that you can be eliminated and went just on two picks, maybe you don't let them throw the third pick.
Maybe you'd go to the bullpen. I don't know that whole week was just, that was as rough as it's gotten for Rivera. He's had a couple other moments, you know, this preseason, he had the weird, I don't know if you guys talked about it down there, but he had the weird Eric Bienen commentary.
That was awful. Yeah. It's just been really, it's been a lot, man.
It's just constant. They need to play football and they need to win. And luckily they get the gift of the Cardinals in week one.
Yeah, they do. Absolutely. It's a big year before we wrap on that.
I made the comment and I was talking to my buddy Chick Hernandez, who's in DC as well. And I just thought, well, Ron is either calling his team dumb, his players dumb, or he's really questioning whether or not Eric Bienenmy was the right hire because he was almost acting as a mediator between his offensive players and the offensive coordinator, you know, associate head coach who was brought in here to completely revamp the offense. It can't be, I mean, nobody should have been surprised that Eric Bienenmy has a complicated offense and is a very hard driving coach because that's always been his rep. Anyway, final thing for you, Grant Paulson, Grant and Danny, 106.7, the fan in DC, and I'm crying from laughing here, but with a new owner, is Ron in some kind of, not hot water, but is the heat on to get off to a good start or they're going to move on?
Absolutely it is. Yeah, I think the fact that there's a new owner, pretty much everybody is being evaluated. He's got the steno pad out with a couple of the folks that he has brought in already, and they're taking notes on every, everyone's looking over their shoulder. If you're a custodian that cleans the press box, if you are, you know, the guy that fills the jugs on the sideline and puts the Gatorade and water in all of the water bottles, I mean, they're absolutely in evaluation mode right now, and Ron Rivera is no different.
Now on top of that, I would say to a much greater extent, he's on a pretty warm seat. This is his fourth year here. It's a five-year contract, but they have had three straight seasons that I would consider losing seasons. They were 8-8-1 with a tie against the Giants last year, but they have yet to get nine wins at any point.
This is the fourth season. They have bungled the quarterback position every which way. They're hoping they struck gold here with Sam Howell, but yeah, they got to start fast. I don't believe in must-wins in week one. I've never called a must-win in the first week of the season when you have 17 weeks after that, but you're playing the Cardinals. Jonathan Gannon's debating between Josh Dobbs, who's been there for nine minutes, and Clayton Thune, who I wouldn't recognize if he was sitting on my lap, and that's the worst roster in the league.
I mean, if they don't beat the Cardinals at home in the first week of the post Dan Steiner era with the sellout and probably the first game being played in front of 99% people wearing burgundy and gold for about 10 years, then all bets are off at that point as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, Gannon said something to the effect that I'm not naming my starting quarterback to keep a competitive advantage. The old adage is if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.
Well, they have no quarterbacks, so they actually do have none. Grant Paulson, Grant and Danny, 106.7, the fan in DC, man. Hey, thank you very much. This was fun. I appreciate your time. We'll do it again. He is keeping a competitive advantage.
They're competing for the number one pick in the draft. Thank you, buddy. Good catching up. Take care, man.
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