Commanders Postgame Quotes (Week 16)

Head Coach Ron Rivera

On the difference when QB Jacoby Brissett comes into the game…

I would say a little more about veteran experience. I’d say a little bit more about the fact that he’s been through these types of things and Sam’s (Howell) still learning and growing. Again, it was my decision. I talked to, let EB know (Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy) and he was fine, and we just went ahead and did it.

On if he’d start Brissett next week…

Well, we’re going to put everything in and evaluate everything. We’ll let you know. We’ll come to the conclusion very early in the week.

On if he talked to Sam Howell after he came out or after the game…

I just chitchatted with him just a little bit just now. Had an opportunity to talk to him quickly.

On if he sensed Howell was pressing today…

I did, and you know it was tough. We didn’t help him early; we dropped a couple balls that we probably should have caught and then that’s tough. Your confidence can sometimes get shaken and that’s what I started to feel in the second half, and I was really concerned and that’s why I made the decision I did.

On if he saw moments where Howell was growing and developing…

I saw moments that I thought he was doing pretty good. Like I said, we all have to make plays and when we get those opportunities, we have to do those things.

On what he makes of fans rooting against the team winnings for draft position…

I don’t make of that. I really don’t. I’m going to show up and we’re going to work, and we’re going to play to win. Everything we do is about winning. It has nothing to do with losing, ok. If that’s what they’re thinking that’s unfortunate.

On if it’s just a matter of Brissett being decisive…

Yes, and that’s one of those things you don’t want Sam to overthink. He’s got a lot of pressure, he’s been trying to do a lot of things, make things happen and you can’t fault him for that.

On Howell being benched twice and how to talk to him…

We most certainly will talk about those things. We’ll talk about just the opportunities he’s had. How much he’s learned; how much he’s grown. He’s got to look at this as this is just part of the process to go through it.

On the start of the game and if it could have gone worse…

No, it couldn’t have been any worse. It really couldn’t have, you’re absolutely right. It was about as bad as it could have been.

On what it says about the team being able to go from a bad start to flip their performance around…

The grit. I love the question I really do. It’s about the grit, the heart that those guys have in that room. They’re going to fight for each other, they’re going to play for each other. I told you guys last week; it’s about being a professional and that’s what these young men showed. That they are professionals. They’re not going to quit, they’re not going to roll over, they’re not going to die. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of young men than the guys that came out, especially in the second half and fought and played, gave it everything they had. They have pride, they have grit, that’s probably the best thing you could say about those young men.

On in-game injuries…

Not yet, we do know Andrew (Wylie) had a hyperextended elbow. They’ll have to examine it, but he was available just in case of an emergency, they taped it up, put a sleeve on it to try to secure it. So, if we got into a pinch, he would have gone back out there for us. I really appreciate that attitude. Chris rolled his ankle, probably going to be sore the next couple days but we’ll be able to evaluate it a little bit more tomorrow. Benjamin (St-Juste) had a slight concussion, and I don’t want to downplay it because he’ll be in the protocol and he’ll have to be examined the whole week and we’ll see how he does. To that point, it was good to see Emmanuel (Forbes Jr.) get out there and play. I thought he had some really good moments. There was one that got a little hairy, but he really stepped up and that was good to see, and I can’t wait to watch the tape on that.

On Chris Rodriguez Jr’s first touchdown and growth…

That’s a good word for it, was growth because he’s worked hard, he’s done a lot of tough things. He’s grown up a little bit and one thing we always talk about is when you see a rookie play on special teams, the way Chris has played all year, you just feel when he gets his chance he’s going to step up. Well, he got his chance today and he really did step up in a big way. Last week he had a couple really good runs and he put together a good game today. I know, we’ll get to watch film and evaluate a little bit more, but it’s one of those things that you feel good about the young man.

On how much harder it is to have losses like they had today…

Oh, it’s hard as hell. It really is. Trust me, those guys in that room right now are really disappointed just because they fought, scratched, clawed, did everything to get to that position and to have that happen. I mean it was a hell of a kick. You have to give (Greg) Zuerlein tremendous credit. That ball would have been good if it was on the 50. He smoked it so kudos to him. For our guys, they wanted it, they really did. They felt it and unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but they played hard.

On if Howell is the same guy he was 6 weeks ago…

You know that’s a little bit to be evaluated. You look back at some of the games he had a month ago and think, ‘Wow, that’s good.’ But there’s some things lately that we have to evaluate and decide on.

QB Jacoby Brissett

On how it felt entering the game…

It felt good. You always just got to be ready when your number’s called, obviously.

On his mindset and trying to pull out a win…

I don’t think nobody’s in here going out there to lose. So, the mindset obviously was to go find a way to put points on the board, put together a couple of drives and for us to go down and score a couple of times to win and that literally was it.

On how experience allows him to know where he wants to throw the ball based on the defense…

Honestly, it’ll be easy for me to come up here and say, ‘man it’s because I’m a veteran that things like that are happening’. It’s just how things work out sometimes. Literally, the same thing I did last week is the same thing I’m doing this week, I’m talking to Sam [Howell]. Some of these things you don’t know, or you learn it as you go. You’ve got to get through it, and you’ve got to go through it. For me, it’s just going out there and playing football how I know how to do best and trying to put our team in the best position possible, put myself in the best position possible, and letting the results take care of themselves.

On how he counsels Howell…

I told him, this is going to be the hardest part of your career right now. It’s going to feel like you’re in this by yourself. It’s snowballing. It’s one thing after another, it’s one thing after another. But I know from being in this league, man, the good ones find a way to get to the other side. No matter how long it takes, how hard it is. You surround yourself with good people. I hope he leans on me as one of those good people that will help him get through this, because I know I will. And you just go through it like that. What all of the coaches say, there’s no magic pill, there’s no magic [inaudible] for some people to go over to say, “Sam, do this” and everything works. It’s, man, you’ve got to go through it. You’ve just got to make sure you’ve got the right people in your ear, you keep your confidence, you stay true to who you are, because that’s what’s gotten you this far. I’m excited for him. I told him that literally when we were running off the field. I was like, ‘I’m excited for this part of your career, because not a lot of people get this experience, man. The ones that come on the other side, they have a better story than a lot of people.’ I’m sure he’ll appreciate this part of his journey at the end of his career.

On how Howell responded to that message…

He understood it. Like I told somebody, that’s like my little brother, man. Before I started, I said, ‘I’m probably the last person you want to hear from right now.’ But he’s obviously processing a lot of stuff right now, as he should be. That’s part of the journey, is processing and questioning, and looking inside to find answer, and looking in other places to find answers. He understood it and he was receptive of it. I’m probably one of his biggest fans on this team, and what right now might seem like biggest fans in this world. So, at the end of the day he understands what he has to do, and like I said, I’m excited for it, man, because I know he’s not going to do it by himself.

On how much Howell should focus on improving physical technique vs. keeping his mind right…

I know the one thing that probably matters more than technique is Sam believing in Sam. Getting out of bed, putting on your shoes and going into that building. Bill Parcells, who’s my biggest mentor, he’s pretty much like my granddad. He said, “When you step into that huddle on Wednesday, they’ve got to believe that you believe that you’re the guy.” And I believe that’s what he’s going to do. I’m going to make sure he does.

On how hard it is to stop overthinking when you’re in a spot like Howell is…

It’s the hardest thing. You don’t know that you’ve got it figured out until you get it figured out. Like I said, to get through it, you’ve got to go through it. You won’t know until you’re on the other side. A lot of those things that you were doing, they just go away. There’s nothing secret, there’s nothing magic. It’s just, one day, if you stick with it long enough, that’s what I’ve told myself plenty of times, one day it’ll click. And then whenever it does, you lean tight to that, but you also have the experience to look back and be like, ‘Man, I went through something like this.’

On whether Howell was pressing…

Pressing? I mean, no. Listen, this position is the hardest position in all of sports, man. It’s hard to say somebody’s out there pressing or trying to go win a game or trying to make play. Every time I see him play, I’m seeing a kid fighting for everything. Like I said, it’s easy for someone to come up here and say, “Oh, he could’ve did this,” or “He could’ve did that,” or “Jacoby went into the game and did this and did that,” but what he’s had to endure this year and what he’s going through and these moments right now, and he’s still standing tall, you know what I mean? Man, I’m just excited for this part of his career. I think he’s going to come out on top and a lot of these questions are going to be answered by y’all rather than him.

QB Sam Howell

How are you feeling?

It’s just part of the game. Obviously, we would like to play a little bit better, but it is what it is, we just have to keep getting better each and every week.

What was going on today and what were some of the things that made you struggle?

We just struggled the game. It was hard early on, I didn’t play my best ball today and I have to be better. I think it starts with me and I need to be better and make better decisions. I have to make better plays.

One thing Ron Rivera was talking about this week was decisiveness, do you think you were decisive today?

Yeah, I thought I was. I thought I made some decisive decisions. We just weren’t getting the outcomes we wanted and it was kind of hard to get something going there.

Every quarterback in the world goes through what you’re going through right now at one point or another. This is the first time you are here and I am just wondering how you are starting to process this?

I just have to keep controlling what I can control. I have to keep taking one day at a time and I know it is still early on in my career, I am still a young player and I just have to keep doing what I can to keep trying to get better and not let this moment define who I am as a player or who I am as a person. I won’t let it define me.

Sam, earlier in the game there was some things that weren’t really your fault but landed on your stat sheet and put the team back. When that kind of stuff happens early, do you feel like you’re trying to catch up more faster afterwards?

Not really, I just try to stay true to who I am and play true to how I know how to play the game. No matter what goes on throughout the game, no matter what the score is, I try to play the same ball, I try to be who I am as a player and just try to keep playing good plays.

Ron talked about how in the second half, he wanted to make sure you remained confident in your ability. Did you guys talk about that at all after the game?

Not really.

We talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but where is your frustration level at overall?

It’s hard to answer that right now. It has been obviously a disappointing couple of weeks here and we would like to play some better football, but at the end of the day, all I can do is control my mindset, my attitude moving forward and control how I treat each and every day and how I try to get better. That’s all I’m focused on.

RB Antonio Gibson

On the play of Jacoby Brissett today…

That’s a vet. I think when I was on the sideline, I was like ‘he was balling last year,’ so it’s no surprise. He’s been here for a minute, he’s comfortable out there, so when he gets in, it’s just another day for him.

On his message to Sam Howell for the rest of the season…

Just keep your head up. At the end of the day, it’s his first year starting, he’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s also made progressions throughout the year, so we are not going to focus on the negative, everybody got their bad times, his has just happened to be the last two weeks. I love Sam, I love what he’s done throughout the season, and I think he’s going to be great.

On the team getting into a hole early…

Yeah, that’s what you don’t want to see. The blocked punt, I think JC (Jamison Crowder) had a great return, him just trying to make a play, not faulting him it’s just if that didn’t happen, but we came in excited to fight, and that’s what I love about this team.

RB Chris Rodriguez

On his celebration dance…

First thing talking to Coach (Jennifer) King, we talked about what you’re going to do for your first celebration and we practiced. I practiced and had some thought about it and she was like listen you’re doing all of this, once you score you’re not going to know what to do. Sure enough, when I got in there I didn’t know what to do, but shout out to the o-line. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would’ve came up a little short. With the ball, I don’t know what I really going to do with it yet. Probably keep it, but hopefully its plenty more to come.

On getting two touchdowns…

I did, I did and I got two of the balls. I probably will give one to my pops. I know he’ll be probably blowing my phone up. So, we’ll see.

On not thinking so much and just reacting…

That’s kind of how I was. Coach came up to me earlier and was like stop thinking so much. You’re here for a reason. Just go out there, play, and have fun. That was one of the main things this week, just to go out there and have fun. Coach talked about when you’re younger, you didn’t care where you were playing, who was watching, you went and played football. So, that was the main thing for us, playing fast and having fun.

DT Jonathan Allen

On how filling that big of a hole felt…

Tough question to answer right there. We lost.

On if a guy like Jacoby Brissett gives a sense of relief when he’s out there…

It’s tough to say, man. NFL is a game with street. I remember him saying going up there against Dallas last year and have a great game. It’s the NFL. It is what it is, I don’t really have to say too much about the offense, I just focus on the defense and all that. We got to get off the field and let it drop again.

WR Terry McLuarrin

On if the close loss is tougher to overcome than a one-sided defeat…

Losing either way, it sucks, but when it comes down to a one-score game, you start looking back on the possessions that we missed out on. Few turnovers, few missed plays that we had, and one or two extra possessions could be the difference in us getting points and they have to score seven, or us scoring seven, and we’re just in a different predicament. Yeah, anyway you lose is tough, but when you lose one-score games, you start thinking about what possession could have been different, to determine a different outcome.

On what changes with the offense under Jacoby Brissett…

Like I said last week, I think he’s just a vet man. He does a great job of commanding the huddle, he’s confident in what he is seeing out there, and he does a great job of giving us a chance to make plays. You just got to credit that he is always ready when his number is called, I don’t think that’s nothing new for Jacoby it’s just who he is, and that’s the reason why he’s been in the League for so long and has success, because he is able to come in no matter if he gets one or two reps during the week, no matter if he’s played X amount of reps, like he comes in and he’s ready for his opportunity. That’s a guy you definitely look up to if you are any kind of player in the League because they’re always ready for the opportunity.

On if he has noticed Sam Howell’s confidence take a hit…

I haven’t talked about his confidence, him and I, just more-so me encouraging him. Letting him know that I got his back, and I know he appreciates that. It’s been tough for him, it’s been a tough year for all of us, and I still believe in the ability that he has. He’s shown a lot of great things this year, and if he is back out there next week, we’re going to keep chopping the wood and try to help him out as much as we can. You know, it’s kind of hard for me to speak for his confidence, but I try to do the best I can to keep him uplifted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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