President Biden declared the pandemic was over. Washington Commanders safety Darrick Forrest made the official announcement on Sunday after the team’s 36-27 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Forrest, speaking to reporters in the visiting locker room in Detroit, said he believed the team’s problem was causing the Commanders to trail 22-0 at halftime.
“It’s the plan,” Forrest said. “I think they’re well aware of our situation.”
Unlike coach Ron Rivera’s first two seasons, Forrest’s comments were made when the locker room was available after the game — something the NFL won’t allow in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic a practice. The media was allowed into the locker room again this season.
Forrest includes an attempt at a disclaimer. “It was a great offensive game,” Forrest said, but the damage was done. He said his coaching staff was eliminated by coaches.
Forrest may not mean what it sounds like. Or maybe he did. But it’s pretty much the biggest indictment against your coach when a player tells reporters after a loss that “they know exactly where we’re in” — in this case, the commander’s First Amendment martyr, Defensive coordinator Voodoo Jake Del Rio.
It doesn’t look good for Rivera either.
When asked about Forrest’s offer on Monday, Rivera gave a brief response, which is notable because usually his responses are not brief.
“I don’t think so,” he replied, and the commander’s defenses were predictable, to put it mildly. “I think the most important thing that happened was that we missed some opportunities to make a difference.”
Coaches certainly don’t like players questioning their coaches. They prefer the other way around, like Rivera and Del Rio’s criticism of 2021 first-round pick Jamin Davis. After the loss in Detroit, Rivera shot Davis again.
When asked what he saw during the game from Davis, who was grilled by Del Rio last week, Rivera criticized the 23-year-old for being “inconsistent.”
“Again, as a young man, he’s going to learn and grow, but hey, we’re running out of time for that,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to go out and be consistent. That’s a big part of that. He’s got to keep trying and do better.”
The players probably feel the same way about the coach. Further losses – and there will be losses – we may find out.
It was the Commander’s first regular-season loss (literally, the first under a new brand) since locker room access was closed due to COVID-19.
For Rivera, it’s a silver lining in the cloud of the pandemic — the media won’t be able to enter the locker room after the game. This is usually when a problem comes to light, when grievances are expressed without the team controlling the filter. Instead, some players are brought to the stage in press conference mode, at which point tempers have calmed down and heads are generally level-headed.
When players are in the locker room in the atmosphere of a postgame loss, the emotions are still raw, and the opportunity to vent is beyond the microphone. In the locker room, you’ll hear Josh Norman’s name-calling or DJ Swearinger’s physical jabs, which ultimately free him from the team.
Imagine if reporters could see the postgame scene after Jonathan Allen-Darron Payne’s sideline game before Washington’s 56-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last December — according to writer Mike According to Silver, the game turned into a brutal locker room – room brawl at halftime?
In fact, all the ducks lined up when both Allen and Payne attended the postgame media press conference. “Everything is fine,” Payne said.
If laptops, cameras and microphones were in the Washington locker room, would the other 51 teammates feel the same way after an embarrassing loss like Dallas’ loss?
It’s been that way since Rivera came into town. Given that his team has suffered 19 losses in the two COVID-19 suspension seasons, there are plenty of opportunities for discontent to surface in at least some of those losses.
This is a new world in the Washington Rivera, where poison always seems to rise to the top.
Listen to Thom Loverro on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.