On Thursday, Rivera admitted his messaging has appeared “inconsistent” and sought to clear up any confusion.
“One thing I’ve learned is you have to treat everybody fair but you’re not going to be able to treat everybody the same,” he said in a video conference with media. “Well, it’s the same thing with situations. You treat each situation as it comes along, and that’s kind of where we are. . . . That’s why I make the decisions that I make, and it does look a little inconsistent. But the consistency is that I’m going to make them based on what I know, on my gut feelings on things. Hopefully they’re good decisions, and if not, we’ll know and I’ll take responsibility, that’s for doggone sure.”
Rivera’s clarification comes on the heels of a comment he made Wednesday in which he denied saying he had “a cutoff point” for Haskins to prove himself as the team’s starting quarterback.
“What I was looking at was watching him and looking for growth and the progression and a development and that type of stuff,” Rivera said Wednesday. “That’s why I made the decision I made. I had no cutoff.”
Yet on Sept. 28, following the team’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, Rivera indeed said, “There is a cutoff point for me, there is” with regard to Haskins.
Rivera has often spoken of John Madden’s influence, especially during his early years as an NFL head coach, and this week Rivera again referenced Madden’s advice to him from nearly seven years ago. The Hall of Fame coach told Rivera, among other things, to rely on his gut.
“‘Ron, you’ve played enough football, you’ve coached enough football to know what’s right or wrong. If you go based on what you feel is best for your team, you have a good chance,'" Rivera recounted Madden saying. “He said, ‘Rely on those things,’ and that’s kind of what I’ve done, is rely on my gut instincts. … These decisions that we’re making are what I believe are best for us going forward.
“Now, can they change? Absolutely. That’s part of my prerogative as a head coach, that I can change my mind. Because if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it."
Rivera reiterated that he refuses to second guess his decisions after the fact. But he admitted that some in-game calls he made early in his career he would not make now.
“But I learned, and those were hard knocks, and they were things that I had to get and understand and learn as a head coach,” he said. “I think that’s part of what drives my decision-making now.”
Rivera also admitted that what he tells reporters publicly can often differ from the message he gives to his players. This is out of necessity. Not everything he shares with players can be shared with media.
“That’s part of the responsibility is that making sure the right message is out there,” he said. “But as I said, the one thing I hope everybody understands is that I do have a prerogative and a responsibility. [It’s my] fiduciary responsibility to make sure the decisions I make are best for the team, and the decisions I make have to be decisions that fall in line with what I believe.”
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