Ron Rivera beat cancer and the NFC East in 2020.
Apparently, it wasn't enough to impress everyone.
Despite a dazzling rookie season as head coach of the Washington Football Team, the two-time NFL Coach of the Year couldn't even make it out of the murky middle of Sports Illustrated's preseason rankings.
How did last year's division championship, his fight against cancer and an 83-72-1 career record resonate with SI? Meh. Right in the middle, 16th out of 32.
Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots' was ranked No. 1, followed by Kansas City Chiefs' boss Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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Rivera’s second act has been an encouraging one so far. While on-field success doesn’t come close to repairing an organization’s overall health, Rivera has brought a sheen of professionalism to Washington that it hasn’t had since the Mike Shanahan era. Rivera has the clout to get rid of bad picks, a front office loaded with seasoned veterans who have a strong track record of personnel experience and a roster that, while developing at the skill positions, has some of the better bones in the NFL. Washington could easily win the division again this season on the shoulders of Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defensive line that will torture opposing quarterbacks. Rivera has twice won the NFL’s head coach of the year award and while it rarely happens a third time, he would be an interesting bet given that we expect the NFC East to recover and largely view Washington as a middle-tier club because of their plan to roll with a journeyman veteran at QB.
Aside from the title, Rivera changed the culture of WFT.
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It had been years — long before Mike Shanahan even — since professionalism existed in Washington. In defense of Shanahan, he still had to contend with owner Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen. Rivera has the clout to make all decisions.
No doubt Rivera should be higher. He is a two-time NFL coach of the year and now has a strong roster that some believe is a quarterback away from doing major damage in the playoffs. Rivera signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead Washington’s offense in 2021.
Apparently it'll take another NFC East title to inexplicably convince SI that Rivera remains one of the best coaches in the league.