One thing that I have been fascinated with for a while know is how often the most admired leaders in seemingly every industry share one trait.
That trait? The willingness to be humble.
Humble enough to realize they don't know it all to constantly be pursuing knowledge in a variety of areas. Humble enough to step out of their comfort zone and be innovative. And, perhaps most importantly, humble enough to admit when they're wrong, and then seek to grow from that experience.
That brings me to this story of Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera talking about the team's approach during training camp with first-round pick and former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins last year.
In a piece from ESPN, John Keim shared how Rivera humbly admits they made a mistake with Haskins last year, and it's one they don't want to repeat.
Last summer, Haskins worked as the number one quarterback, and Rivera openly shared how he wanted the highly drafted quarterback working with the starters as much as possible knowing that there were no preseason games last year.
Haskins struggled in the team's first four games, and he was ultimately benched for Kyle Allen four games into the season.
Looking back, Rivera admits his approach was wrong and that he wished he had handled their quarterback competition differently last summer.
"The mistake I made was that my approach was wrong," Rivera shared in the ESPN piece. "I should have made as big a competition as possible, and that's on me. I wanted to try and find a guy. I thought [Haskins] was ready to take a step and take every opportunity. I try to build that rapport he needed with his teammates, and that would have been something we may have been able to see sooner and could have done something different, perhaps."
This time around, after signing veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and with capable quarterbacks like Kyle Allen (who was still recovering from a broken ankle when he stepped in for Haskins last year), Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez on the roster this summer, Rivera now wants to put all his quarterbacks in as many game-like situations as possible.
While Rivera has said that Fitz will enter camp as the starter, he's entering this summer with plan that is much more flexible to guys like Heinicke, Allen, or Montez stepping up and plans to give them plenty of opportunities to prove they're capable of leading the team.
"You want to be able to rotate guys so that everybody gets an opportunity to work with the same group of players. You try to create that energy for guys stepping on the field knowing that they are working with the ones. That's one of the things we've done in the past that shows how you find out about players."
Having preseason games back this fall will be an added luxury they didn't have last year, and Rivera shares that will also help them get a better understanding and feel for their signal callers as well.
After being diagnosed with cancer back in August of last year, Rivera was determined to continue coaching, but was forced to adjust his daily schedule with the team. His mornings consisted of enduring proton therapy and chemo treatments that drained him of energy, and he fit some naps in between staff meetings. Through all of that, he missed just three days of practice, and no games throughout the course of the 2020 COVID-impacted season.
Just a few weeks after their season ended he got the good news that their prayers had been answered, and that the treatment worked and he was officially cancer free.
Looking back on all that Rivera faced last year, it's both incredible and refreshing to hear perspective from him on what he'd do differently.
Read the full piece from John Keim and ESPN here.