Ron Rivera's decision to start Carson Wentz over Taylor Heinicke ultimately backfired as Washington put up just 10 points and turned the ball over three times in Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Faced with questions behind the reasoning for his decision one day later, the Commanders head coach said he has no regrets starting Wentz.
"No, because to me it was always about winning and that it was in our hands," Rivera told reporters Monday, via team transcript. "I mean, we controlled our destiny basically and that's the truth of the matter. Being 0-2-1 in the last three games was probably a thing that really pushed me more than anything else. And that's what I looked at. And as I said, coming off of the last quarter of the 49er game, I was relatively optimistic in terms of dealing with what Carson could do.
"I thought we could run the ball. I think we could have run the ball a little bit better even though we did run it well. And I think that could have helped us a little bit more. But again, it's the decision that was made because I felt we needed a little something, after going that stretch of 0-2-1."
Acquired by the Commanders ahead of the 2022 season via trade, Wentz's first season in D.C. has been as rocky as it gets. Wentz owned a 2-4 record as the starter before a finger injury shelved him for most of the season, but Rivera declared Heinicke would remain the Commanders starting QB in late November, regardless of Wentz's availability.
Ultimately Washington's attempt at rectifying the QB position ahead of the season didn't work out, and it has Rivera reiterating the importance of having a solidified QB1.
"I think the biggest thing that's been the toughest thing right now is really being able to solidify the QB1 spot," Rivera said. "... That's the thing that we gotta do. I was asked that question about eight, nine weeks ago what's the difference? Well, that's the one position that we've gotta solidify going forward more so than anything else."
Wentz went 16-of-28 passing for 143 yards and threw three interceptions for a 31.4 passer rating in the defeat to Cleveland. Two first-half INTs conjured early jeers at FedExField before Wentz rallied a two-minute drill touchdown drive to give the Commanders a 7-3 lead entering halftime. But scoring just one field goal in the second half as the Browns rattled off three consecutive TD drives, Washington's offense continued to circle the drain along with its playoff hopes.
Making his first start since Week 6, Wentz mustered the Commanders' lowest point total over the last nine games, with Heinicke starting the previous nine contests. The loss advanced Washington's absence from the playoff picture, and their hopes were officially dashed a few hours later once the Packers beat the Vikings.
Rivera considered putting Heinicke into the game but the game script called for Wentz's arm. On Monday, the coach maintained that the starting QB for Week 18 is yet to be determined, albeit in a game against the Cowboys that will conclude Washington's season.
"We're going to continue to evaluate and look at things," he said. "I mean, guys, I'm not going to tell you anything about what we're gonna do until it's time, just so you guys know that. I'm meeting with the coaches at later today and we'll discuss all those things as a group and then we'll make a decision. I'll make a decision when it's time and appropriate."