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ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera apologized to quarterback Carson Wentz for comments Rivera said were misconstrued by some Monday, regarding why there’s a gulf between his rebuilding team and its NFC East rivals.
“Carson and I had a nice conversation, so I think we’re ready to roll,” Rivera said.
He also spoke to his team about the comments he made Monday. On that day, Rivera was asked why the Commanders were 1-4 in his third season compared with the other teams in the division, which are all at least 4-1. Rivera answered, “Quarterback.”
He later said the other teams’ quarterbacks had been in place longer than Wentz had in Washington. The Commanders traded for Wentz this past offseason; Rivera said the quarterback is still getting comfortable in the offense and with teammates. Rivera said they now have a quarterback they can build around.
But his initial one-word answer drew national attention, with former Washington quarterback Alex Smith ripping his former coach.
Wentz said he was unaware of what had been said until he was told by a team spokesperson. He wasn’t bothered by what Rivera said.
“Coach addressed it, handled it, nothing for me that I’m overly concerned about,” Wentz said. “Coach is a very straightforward, upfront guy. He addressed it in the team meeting, which I thought was really cool, in what he meant by it all. I feel very confident in that.”
Rivera said he understood why his comments were perceived in a negative light, which is why he wanted to address the entire team.
“I told them I said some things that were misconstrued; I didn’t present them properly. That’s on me,” he said. “I took accountability, told the guys I should know better. S—, I had a bad day so I figured I was feeling better today, let’s move forward.”
Rivera said he worried about his words becoming a distraction during a short week; the Commanders (1-4) play at the Chicago Bears (2-4) on Thursday. But players said they understood what Rivera was saying.
“We all assumed that was taken the wrong way,” Washington backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke said. “He did a good job clearing that up this morning. Carson has broad shoulders; he understands the deal. … It meant a lot to the whole team. For anyone who didn’t know what [Rivera] meant, it was good to hear from him.”
Heinicke said Wentz stays off social media so he wasn’t even aware of the controversy Rivera’s answer had created. Heinicke also said having played in a tough media market such as Philadelphia steeled Wentz.
“Once you play in Philly, everything else is easy-peasy from there,” Heinicke said.
Washington tackle Charles Leno Jr. said Rivera’s words were well-received.
“He’s never the type to say anything underneath the table or back door,” Leno said. “He’s always a straightforward guy, so I appreciate him and appreciate his words.”
Wentz, meanwhile, is listed as having a shoulder injury on the injury report for Thursday night’s game. Wentz brushed off any concern about his right, throwing shoulder despite the injury report indicating he would have been a limited participant if the Commanders had held a full practice each of the past two days.
“I don’t know when [it occurred], and it feels pretty good,” Wentz said. “It feels pretty good. It was a Monday after a game, so I’m feeling pretty good.”
Rivera said Wentz reported the shoulder was sore Monday morning after the team’s loss to Tennessee on Sunday. He said Wentz took all his snaps in practice Tuesday.
“He was fine,” Rivera said. “I don’t expect it to be a problem.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.