Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera talks with his...

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera talks with his players during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 20, 2020. Credit: AP/Darryl Webb

Ron Rivera was believed to be on the short list of candidates to be the next head coach of the Giants at the conclusion of last season, especially given his relationship with Dave Gettleman when the two worked together in Carolina.

But Rivera never even made it to an interview with New York. He was hired by Washington before he spoke formally with any other team about their vacancy. Because they fired their head coach in mid-season and Rivera was fired by Carolina in mid-season, the two could hammer out a deal before other candidates and openings were even available.

On Wednesday, he said he took the job because, well, Washington was a mess.

"First of all I was thoroughly recruited to come here and spent a lot of time and had a lot of opportunities to look at this team," Rivera said. "I just felt pretty comfortable. It never was about the money, I think it was more about the challenge and for whatever reason I just believed that I liked the challenge. And it’s been a challenge, to be honest with you."

That’s included benching second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a player he inherited and gave every opportunity to but who ultimately did not develop enough to keep his starting job.

As for the Giants, Rivera said his relationship with Gettleman is "good."

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Rivera said. "My success that I had in Carolina, if you look at it, four of the five years in the playoffs were directly related to my relationship with Dave. Dave has a philosophy which I think is a very good one and one we’re trying to institute here, and that is big guys give you a chance to compete. I really look at what this [Giants] football team has in terms of skill position, I look at it as the offensive line, big guys, look at the defensive line, look at the back seven, and I think he’s headed in that direction again."

Rivera also lauded the way the Giants are trying to build around their second-year quarterback Daniel Jones.

"I think the philosophy of having to protect him and put good players around him, I think that’s where the Giants are headed," he said. "This is a good football team we are playing. I don’t care about the record. This is the kind of team that, they’re growing. They’re playing a lot of guys and you see improvement. This should be a very competitive game on Sunday."

It also will be a chance for Rivera to see up close what might have been had he not jumped at the Washington job so quickly. And give the Giants, who are not unhappy with Joe Judge who ultimately landed their head coach gig, a chance to see the opportunity that never even presented itself.

"My relationship with Dave is I have a tremendous amount of respect for who he is as a general manager, but more importantly who he is as a man," Rivera said. "I mean that, too. He is really part of the reason I have had success as a head coach."

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