The first game of the NFL season is a big deal for every team, but this year it is especially monumental for the Washington Commanders who are under new ownership. Josh Harris purchased the team this offseason from Dan Snyder, marking a major change that many fans have been wanting for a while.
The Commanders' first game will be at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. ET.
The Week 1 matchup will also be a big game for head coach Ron Rivera, who enters a crucial season where he really needs to prove he deserves to stay in Washington. Last season, the Commanders went 8-8-1, coming in last in the NFC East.
Harris says he has seen the team improve since he arrived as the owner.
"I've really enjoyed getting to know Coach Rivera," Harris said (via ESPN). "He's a good man; he's done a great job in terms of where the team is relative to where it was when he got here and relative to a lot of the distractions going on."
Harris noted that he is happy with what he has seen from Rivera so far, but admitted that it'll be wins in the regular season that really will make an impact on ownership and decisions going forward.
"He has a very capable front office. We're getting up to speed; we want to hear how you want to learn, how you make decisions,'' Harris said. "It's going really well. ... Ultimately we have to deliver wins on the field. You don't need to say anything. It's just out there. So far, so good."
Rivera joined the team as the head coach in 2020 and since then has not had a winning season. Even when they made the playoffs in his first year, the team went 7-9.
Harris was not in the room when the team selected its 53-man roster, saying (via The Washington Post), "you want professionals picking the players" and trusting in Rivera and Co. to make the decisions.
Harris has high expectations for the Commanders, and looks to bring their status to a place it was years ago. In explaining his goals for the team, he also took a job at an NFC East rival.
"Dallas was not America's Team. Washington was," Harris said.
The Commanders will have Sam Howell, who has started just one game in his career, as the starter this season. The preseason showed that Washington does have potential, but it will be all about what happens in the regular season that really tells the story.