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Ron Rivera points to ‘quarterback’ as reason why other NFC teams are further ahead than Commanders

The NFC East is one of the strongest divisions in the league through five games, to the shock of many. One team in the division, however, is not at the level of the 5-0 Philadelphia Eagles, the 4-1 Dallas Cowboys and the 4-1 New York Giants. The Washington Commanders stand last in the division with only one win under their belts.

There are many things you could point to as the reason they are in such a different position than the rest of the East, but head coach Ron Rivera says it comes down to one thing: the quarterback.

When asked at his press conference Monday what sets the other teams apart, Rivera simply said, “Quarterback.”

Rivera did not roast quarterback Carson Wentz too much more. He actually had some positive things to say that were sandwiched within the criticism.

“I think our quarterback has done some good things. There’s been a couple games he’s struggled. You look at his numbers from yesterday, he was okay. His numbers he’s had throughout the year, there have been times he was very solid,” Rivera said. “Most of the time he’s very solid. … But the way he performed yesterday? Just shows you what he’s capable of.”

Even with Dak Prescott out, the Cowboys have had success with backup Cooper Rush, who has never lost a game he’s started in the NFL. The Giants have Daniel Jones playing at a higher level than in the past, while Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is having a career season.

Rivera later clarified his “quarterback” comment, nothing that while Wentz only joined the Commanders this offseason, the other teams in the division have had more time to build around their quarterbacks. Still, Jones is currently working under a new Giants regime that did not pick up his fifth-year option, while Rush entered this season with one-career start in five seasons. Rivera chalked up Rush’s success to being a good fit within the Cowboys offense, but the point still remains that other signal-callers have dealt with their own obstacles — yet every other team in the division has at least four wins.

Rivera hopes that with time, Washington will be able to build a consistent winner around Wentz.

“The truth is, this is a quarterback-driven league,” Rivera said. “The teams that have been able to sustain success, they’ve been able to build it around a specific quarterback.”

Wentz has 10 touchdowns this season compared to six interceptions. He’s taken 20 sacks and has an overall rating of 86.0. These are not numbers that create that sustained success Rivera mentioned.  

With the game on the line this week, Wentz threw an interception at the goal line, sealing the loss for the Commanders against the Tennessee Titans

But even with the issues on offense, Rivera does not question the decision to sign Wentz.

“No, I’ve got no regrets about the quarterback,” Rivera said. “We chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed towards him.”

Former Washington quarterback Alex Smith gave his opinion on the situation with the Commanders Monday night, saying it is not all on Wentz.

“I had a really hard time watching that,” Smith said on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.” “I’m not here to defend Carson Wentz … but this is a defensive head coach that’s absolutely driving the bus over his quarterback.”

Wentz’s next chance to show some improvement is on “Thursday Night Football” against the Chicago Bears.

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