The Washington Commanders entered Sunday as the team on the bubble in the NFC Playoff Picture, with a tenuous hold on the 7th and final playoff spot. They made the curious decision to hand the offense back over to Carson Wentz, who was rather dreadful early in the season before getting injured and replaced by Taylor Heinicke, who rattled off five wins to get them into the playoff hunt before a 0-2-1 stretch of late.
The move to go back to Wentz did not pay off, as he threw three interceptions in a 24-10 loss to the Browns that dropped them to 7-8-1 on the season. While they still had a chance to make the playoffs, they were jumped in the standings by the Lions who throttled the Bears and could be eliminated completely if Green Bay beat Minnesota in the late window — because Detroit and Green Bay play in Week 18. That last bit of news came as a shock to Ron Rivera, who was stunned in his postgame press conference when that was brought up.
Here's the video.
I am absolutely gobsmacked that Rivera didn't know that the Commanders could be eliminated today.
How does this happen in the modern NFL?
Did this impact his decision to start Wentz?
I'm so confused right now. pic.twitter.com/9BNCr26mxm
— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) January 1, 2023
It’s unbelievable for a coach not to know the playoff scenarios for his team, and it’s a fair question as to whether there would’ve (or at least should’ve) been a different approach to the quarterback decision had he been aware of just how precarious his team’s place was in the playoff picture. Whatever the case, it’s a dreadful look for Rivera to be completely oblivious to this nugget of information, and he will now be much sweatier watching the late window of games to see if the Vikings can save him a bit.