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2 Jan, 2020 09:53

'Riverboat Ron' a Redskin: Former Carolina Panthers boss Ron Rivera named new Washington head coach

'Riverboat Ron' a Redskin: Former Carolina Panthers boss Ron Rivera named new Washington head coach

Struggling Washington Redskins have moved swiftly to address their senior coaching positions ahead of the 2020 season by hiring former Carolina Panthers boss Ron Rivera.

Rivera, who spent the last nine seasons with the Panthers, including a season that took the team all the way to Super Bowl 50, was the NFL's Coach of the Year winner in both 2013 and 2015.

But his Panthers side struggled over the past two years, due in no small part to the injury woes suffered by talismanic quarterback Cam Newton. It eventually led to his dismissal from the team after a disappointing 5-11 season that saw the Panthers finish rock bottom of the NFC South division.

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But Rivera – known around the NFL as "Riverboat Ron" due to his willingness to gamble on big plays –is well respected around the league and, with a host of franchises looking to make head coaching appointments during the offseason, the Redskins have wasted no time in appointing Rivera to ensure they have their man in post as early as possible ahead of the new season.

"After several meetings with Coach Rivera, it was clear he is the right person to bring winning football back to Washington, DC," said Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

"He is widely respected around the league as a man of great integrity and has proven to be one of the finest coaches in the country."

Rivera replaces interim head coach Bill Callahan, who was asked to step in after the Redskins fired Jay Gruden after their 0-5 start to the season. Eventually, Washington ended the season 3-13 and dead last in the NFC East.

Now both Rivera and the Redskins are hopeful the new coaching setup can help turn things around in the US capital and propel the franchise into the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and, eventually, on to their first Super Bowl win since the 1991 season.

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"While I love the storied history of the franchise, I am focused on the future and excited for the opportunity to win football games with this talented young team," said Rivera.

"After meeting Dan Snyder, it was clear we are aligned in our passion for the game and he supports my vision to turn the team around. I look forward to surrounding myself with great people and getting to work."

Rivera's first move as Redskins head coach was to hire former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio to run the team's defense, while other key coaching changes are expected to be made over the coming days.