There are fewer than 100 days until the Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 13, and for the past five months, the franchise has been working vigorously to prepare for the 2020 campaign.
It has been five seasons since the Redskins made the playoffs in 2015, and while the expectations were high heading into last season, the team struggled throughout the year.
After ending the season with a lopsided loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Redskins Owner Dan Snyder decided that something different was needed to turn the franchise around.
"What the Redskins have needed is a culture change, someone that can bring a winning culture to our organization," he said on January 2.
That person was Ron Rivera, who brought a new culture, new players and new coaches to build a new vision in Washington. Here is a timeline of all the major moves the team has made this offseason:
Jan. 1: Ron Rivera Named Head Coach
The rumors that Rivera would be coming to Washington began just hours after the Redskins lost to the Cowboys. Two days later, the Redskins made the move official on New Year's Day by hiring Rivera to be the 30th head coach in franchise history.
It was the culmination of weeks of work on the part of Snyder. He reached out to Rivera shortly after the Carolina Panthers relieved him of his duties following their loss to the Redskins in early December. He wanted to mold a player-centered culture with a coach-centered approach and felt like Rivera was the right person to lead that effort.
That idea impressed Rivera, and rather than pit teams against each other for a better contract, he agreed to help Snyder build a sustainable, winning culture in Washington.
"My responsibility is to get the most out of the players. To work with them, teach them, mentor them. If I have to do it one by one, I most certainly will do it. I've done it in the past and I'll do it again. I'll do what I can to help these young men become not just the players we want, but the men in the community we need.
- Press Release
- Redskins.com: Ron Rivera Becomes 30th Head Coach In Redskins History
- Redskins.com: Five Things To Know About Head Coach Ron Rivera
- Redskins.com: The Player That Made Ron Rivera
- Redskins.com: Ron Rivera Wants To Build A "Player-Centered" Culture With A "Coach-Centered" Approach
- Redskins.com: "He's A Heck Of A Coach": Players Give Their Thoughts On Redskins Head Coach Ron Rivera
Jan. 2: Jack Del Rio Named Defensive Coordinator
As Rivera laid out his plan to rebuild the Redskins during his introductory press conference, Jack Del Rio was listening intently in the front row. That's because not long before Rivera first took the podium, he made his first move as a head coach by hiring Del Rio as his defensive coordinator.
Del Rio, who was last in the NFL as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2017, has a reputation of leading dominant defenses. As a coordinator, he has coached three top five defenses in yards allowed; as a head coach, four of his defenses have finished as top 10 units in yards allowed.
Despite playing and coaching against each other for decades, Del Rio and Rivera had never coached on the same staff. They kept a close relationship over the years, though, and Rivera knew he wanted Del Rio to help switch the Redskins' defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front.
"We competed against each other collegiately and professionally, and I've got tremendous respect for who he's been," Rivera said of Del Rio. "He's been a very successful coach in this league, he's had opportunities in this league and he's succeeded in this league."
- Press release
- Redskins.com: Five Things To Know About Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio
- Redskins.com: Jack Del Rio And Ron Rivera Join Forces For The First Time To Lead The Redskins
- Redskins.com: In Switching To A 4-3 Defense, Ron Rivera And Jack Del Rio See An "Obvious" Fit
- Redskins.com: Five Takeaways From Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio's Introductory Conference Call
- Redskins.com: Jack Del Rio Discusses Chase Young, An 'Interesting Mix' Of Linebackers And The 4-3 Defense In Videoconference
Jan. 8: Redskins Name Scott Turner offensive coordinator, Retain Nate Kaczor As Special Teams Coordinator
Rivera has worked with Turner on two separate occasions; the first in 2011 when Turner was an offensive quality coach and the second in 2018 when Rivera hired him as the Panthers' quarterbacks coach. Turner, whose father, Norv Turner, coached the Redskins from 1994-2000, has worked with quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Cam Newton, both of whom saw noticeable growth under his tutelage.
Kaczor was one of two coaches from the previous regime who Rivera retained. Prior to joining the team in 2019, he was the special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2016-18, so he has experience coaching against Rivera in the NFC South. He respected Rivera then, but that has been amplified now that he has seen Rivera work.
"He is such an authentic, real, sincere person with just a great background that covers a lot of different areas," Kaczor said. "When you meet him, you're not surprised that he meets that consistency because that's just the way he is. He's just a rock."
- Press Release
- Redskins.com: Five Things To Know About Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner
- Redskins.com: Five Takeaways From Offensive Coordinator's Scott Turner's Introductory Conference Call
- Redskins.com: Scott Turner Has Helped Turn Young Quarterbacks Into Pro Bowlers, Which Bodes Well For Dwayne Haskins
- Redskins.com: Scott Turner Was 11 When His Dad Began Coaching The Redskins. Now He's Their Offensive Coordinator.
- Redskins.com: Five Takeaways From Special Teams Coordinator Nate Kaczor's Videoconference
Jan. 13: Redskins Promote Kyle Smith To Vice President of Player Personnel
One of the main reasons Rivera saw the Redskins as a desirable destination was because of their core of young players, especially those picked in the past three drafts.
Kyle Smith was an integral piece of that as the director of college personnel and an area scout for the Southeast region. Rivera was so impressed with Smith that he retained him and promoted him to vice president of player personnel.
"I have been impressed with Kyle's track record and player evaluation process, and I'm confident in the vision we share for the future of the Washington Redskins," Rivera said in the press release announcing the move.
Smith and Rivera have said their relationship has been strong from their first meeting, and they have collaborated on every decision the team has made this year. At the same time, they are committed to letting each other handle their responsibilities as head coach and executive, respectively.
"I talked through our process and what we've been doing with the draft and the type of players we've been looking for and he talked about his process and where he ideally sees us going," Smith said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "And that's what we did, we kind of meshed it together, and we'll move forward together and we work well together."
- Press Release
- Redskins.com: Five Takeaways From Kyle Smith's Press Conference At The NFL Combine
- Redskins.com: Kyle Smith Reflects On How His Father, A.J. Smith, Influenced His Career
- Redskins.com: Redskins Q&A: Director Of College Scouting Tim Gribble Discusses His Relationship With Kyle Smith, The NFL Draft And More
Feb. 19: Redskins Exercise Club Option On Adrian Peterson
The Redskins were inching closer to an important date for the contract of Adrian Peterson. They could either bring him back for the final season of his contract or let him hit the open market in March. Apparently that was an easy choice for Rivera and Smith, because they wanted him to be part of the cultural rebuilding process in Washington.
"Every practice is a game for him," Smith said. "It's so important to him, he's made of the right stuff and [he's] just a consummate pro every time he walks through that building," Smith told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael. "Having Adrian Peterson around makes the Redskins better."
Peterson has been a focal point of the Redskins' offense since he was signed in 2018. He has rushed for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 350 yards. But the way Peterson conducts himself off the field is just as valuable to the Redskins, and they hope that rubs off on the rest of the team.
"If you do it this way, you have a chance to have the type of career he's had," Rivera said.
March 14: Redskins Place Franchise Tag On Brandon Scherff
Rivera expressed at the NFL Combine that the Redskins would like to retain guard Brandon Scherff. The two sides could not agree on terms for a long-term deal before free agency began, so the team placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Scherff, who signed the tag on March 31.
Scherff has started every game he has played in since he was drafted fifth overall in 2015 and played in at least 11 games three out of his five seasons. He has been voted to the Pro Bowl three times in his career, including back-to-back selections in 2016 and 2017, and was voted in for his performance in the 2019 season.
March 18: Free Agency Begins
Fans were hoping the Redskins would bring in one of the premium free agents this offseason. That didn't necessarily happen, but they were certainly active in adding new players to the roster.
In the first two weeks of free agency, the Redskins signed 14 players, including a trade for quarterback Kyle Allen, and retained three of their own.
One of the biggest acquisitions was cornerback Kendall Fuller, who was drafted by the team in 2016 and was fresh off a victory in Super Bowl LIV with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rivera said the primary strategy this offseason was to fill needs, and they did so by signing several veteran to one-year deals to create competition on the depth chart.
"We think it's a good mix right now. Again, as we develop and grow, it's not going to happen overnight," he said. "That's one of the things that we feel we have more time to be patient and develop these guys."
- Redskins.com: Redskins Free Agency Journal
- Redskins.com: Head Coach Ron Rivera Explains How The Redskins Used Free Agency To Fill Needs
- Redskins.com: Kyle Allen Was Shocked About Being Traded. Now He Believes The Move "Makes Complete Sense"
- Redskins.com: Kendall Fuller, Now A More Refined Player, Will Bring A Championship Mentality To Washington
- Redskins.com: Local Products Logan Thomas, Kendall Fuller And Sean Davis Are "Happy To Be Home" As Redskins
- Redskins.com: 'He's A Tremendous Athlete': Redskins Have High Expectations For QB-Turned-TE Logan Thomas *
April 20: Redskins' Virtual Offseason Program Begins
The novel coronavirus completely upended the offseason for the entire league with club facilities being closed to all staff, coaches and players. To help teams get acclimated to working from home, the NFL and NFLPA agreed on an virtual offseason program designed for classroom instruction on playbooks and a voluntary workout program.
Coaches are allowed to meet with their players four days per week for four hours per session. The Redskins were one of the first teams to start the offseason program but opted not to participate in the virtual workout program, so players have been meeting with their position coaches for just two hours to discuss the new playbooks.
"The best thing we can do is be able to work with our guys virtually to make sure we make contact with them as soon as we are and just follow all the rules as to what our time frame is going to be with each player and the positions and the groups," Rivera said.
The virtual offseason program was originally supposed to end no later than May 15, but that deadline has been extended twice. It is currently scheduled to end on June 26.
- Redskins.com: As Redskins Begin Virtual Offseason program, Ron Rivera Relies On Experiences From 2011 Lockout
- Redskins.com: Players, Coaches Are Impressed With Ron Rivera's Leadership In A Virtual Offseason
- Redskins.com: Redskins' Rookies Tackle Learning Their Playbooks Virtually
- Redskins.com: Redskins Coaches, Including Ron Rivera, Return To Redskins Park
April 23-25: Redskins Draft Chase Young And Seven Other Rookies
There had been speculation for months as to what the Redskins would do with the No. 2 overall pick, and they finally answered that question by taking Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.
"We've always felt pretty good about Chase. It was just a matter of us doing our due diligence going through the process, obviously," Rivera said following the pick. "It really was honestly something that was just a formality really going into it."
Similar to the strategy for free agency, the Redskins drafted players who offered versatility to fill needs.
They took Antonio Gibson, who can play as a running back and receiver, in the third round. Then they selected players like center Keith Ismael and linebacker Khaleke Hudson, both of whom have played multiple positions, to create competition and add depth.
"I think the biggest thing more so than anything else was going out and drafting the young men that we believe can be a part of what we want to do," Rivera said. "Grow with this as we go forward."
- Redskins.com: Full List Of Washington Redskins 2020 NFL Draft Picks
- Redskins.com: Reviewing The Redskins' 2020 NFL Draft Class
- Redskins.com: Five Things To Know About Each Member Of The Redskins' 2020 Draft Class
- Redskins.com: Ron Rivera Always Viewed Chase Young As "The Guy" To Take With The No. 2 Pick
- Redskins.com: After Months Of Speculation, Chase Young Is Coming Home
- Redskins.com: 'He's A Swiss Army Knife': Redskins Plan To Use Antonio Gibson As An Offensive Weapon
- Redskins.com: Minor Adjustments Turned Antonio Gandy-Golden Into One Of the Best Receivers Hugh Freeze Has Ever Worked With
- Redskins.com: Dwayne Haskins Has High Hopes For New Playmakers Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden
- Redskins.com: Saahdiq Charles Opens Up About His Relationship With LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron
May 7: Redskins Release 2020 Schedule
Redskins fans have plenty to be excited about for the 2020 season between Young's professional debut and Rivera's first season in Washington. After months of knowing which teams the Redskins would face, they now know the full structure of the schedule.
The Redskins have a slew of intriguing matchups with the likes of Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson slated on the schedule. The team will also play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2017 when they play the Cowboys on the road. Finally, the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks will square off on Nov. 22 when the Redskins host Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.