Against the Lions, the commanders’ defense faltered and never adjusted

Detroit – Dear Washington Commanders Defense: Feel free to be nice. not great. It’s good.

Yep, you have a first-round draft pick—second overall choice from two years ago—wearing sweatpants, not pads, and not having Chase Young’s ability as a pass rusher as a cheerleader. But you also have a first round pick on one tackle and a first round pick on a second tackle. You have the first round pick on the opposite end of your injured first round pick, and you have the first round pick on the linebacker. You have a guy who is paid like a top-10 cornerback in the league. And you felt good enough about the group that you didn’t necessarily take any step through free agency or trade to improve it.

Some of those players do their job with regularity and uniqueness – Hello, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Some, well, no.

But it’s not completely important – Jaimin Davis or William Jackson III. This is a group that, collectively, cannot funnel their talents into anything that resembles a continuum. Which makes you think about coaching. Which makes you think about Jack Del Rio.

And that assessment isn’t from just one Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, though. 36-27 loss to Detroit Lions Provides lots of examples. Here, Washington’s offense somehow brainwashed itself to forget an absolutely gruesome first half and twice made its way within the Lions’ score. The defense responded as follows: 75 yards in four plays to allow the Lions to go up 14 again, then 70 yards in six plays for Detroit’s final point.

Why does an entity that believes it can be so good keep playing like this over and over again?

“We definitely have a lot of talent,” said defensive back Bobby McCain in his eighth NFL season. “We have a lot of consistency. We communicate very well. Nothing has changed in that aspect.

“We just have to get better at the little things, get more detailed in practice and understand, man, everyone has to do their job.”

For commanders’ defense to progress, crowds and coverage must work together

This was said on Sunday, when the Lions took a lead of 425 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per game – and 8.0 yards per game. rush, But the same could be said after so many games and changes in the last one year.

“You wanna blame someone?” Coach Ron Rivera said. “Blame us all.”

In this case, “everyone” includes Del Rio, who is in his third year on the job. 1 Commanders character facing a referendum on his career coming this season had to be quarterback Carson Wentz, as he was on his third team in three years, with questions about his leadership and decision-making at City. followed them. , But there’s a solid argument – and it’s a belief here – that Del Rio is the figure facing the next most scrutiny in Washington,

Take away the off-season fuss in which he was fined for calling the January 6, 2021 uprising in the US Capitol “a little dusty.” Just focus on football.

football will tell you what was the power This team is no more. It can happen to everyone, as Rivera would like. But some of it must be on his coordinator. Fifty-four weeks earlier, in the 2021 season opener, this defense — playing under a different name but with the same personnel — was not promoted as a top five defense in the NFL. This was Top five defense in the NFL.

That unit had Young having a season in which he was the defensive rookie of the year. This further capitalized on Davis, a linebacker, in the first round of the draft. Adding Jackson as a High Price Corner in free agency. And it was second in the NFL in both yards allowed per game (304.5) and yards allowed per game (4.9) in 2020.

they number balloon 359.2 yards per game (22nd in the league) and 5.7 yards per game (26th) a year earlier. Over the course of two weeks this year, Washington is giving away 404s per game and 6.6 per game. Yes, small sample size, and they may not be the best metric. But the trend is not upward.

So now it is a crime that the defense has to give bail? It is assumed that it has become a measurable entity. Not by coaches and players who expect better. But if you’re sitting on the couch at home thinking, “Well, maybe Wentz and his group of dangerous receivers can figure this out,” you’re not alone.

Certainly, the offense – which conceded just 56 yards and dropped four sacks – was more responsible for Sunday’s 22-0 halftime deficit. But the Lions’ lead was also built on a blown coverage that left receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, the equivalent of a cow’s pasture around him. It was also made 50 yards by driving D’Andre Swift back.

“I saw that we gave them big plays, explosive plays,” Rivera said. “You can’t skip those plays. You allow an explosive play, and it throws you off.”

For Ron Rivera, ‘The decision begins with victory or defeat.’ That is progress.

That’s the difference for Washington right now: With offense, Wentz and coordinator Scott Turner unlocking a more creative version of the playbook, it seems the ability to throw, correct mistakes, and adjust.

Del Rio’s defense is not pivotal in the same way. It is telling that, from Wentz’s touchdown pass to tight end Logan Thomas pulling the Commanders 22-15 in the third quarter, the defense reacted to the Lions’ first game with a combination of reaction and astonishment, rather than simply letting go. And deal with the man. It was a jet sweep for dynamic St. Brown, and it went for 58 yards.

“Just maybe getting out of position, maybe not as inter-sounding as we should be,” Payne said. “That’s all we’ll see when we watch the movie tomorrow.”

It would be nice to be able to detect them more often in real time. Three plays later, quarterback Jared Goff—under pressure from Davis, whom Rivera played with “little dissonance” that has become a defining characteristic—found Swift in the flat. Back made the catch, fell down – and it was time to get up, dust himself off, and wander through the remainder of Washington’s second for a touchdown.

Unfortunately that is the hallmark of this defense. Not only Sunday. But more changes during the past year. Antonio Gibson’s 1-yard touchdown run pulled the Commanders to within 29-21 in less than 11 minutes. The defense forced the Lions into third and 2.

“Everyone [is] Out there with the mind-set, ‘We have to get the ball back for the offense. We got the ball back for the offense,’ said second-year safety Darrick Forrest. “That was the mindset.”

This was not the result. Instead, Goff vacated the backfield – a bold move, given the Lions’ apparent strength. This seemed to surprise the commanders, because why wouldn’t this happen? And it completed a 25-yard run down the seam for Brock Wright’s backup. Goff hit St. Brown flat in the next play, and that was it.

Look, it’s not the result, it means the season is lost. This is not possible in week 2. Plus, as Rivera told both the media and his team, “we still have a lot of football ahead of us to play,” which is both a cliché and a fact.

But it’s worth thinking about: Are Del Rio’s players going to get better? Will his unit improve to be the force of the team again? They can talk about their talent. Somebody has to come out of them not only occasionally, but every week.

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