Washington’s Defense Needs To Play More Aggressively
It is clear that the Washington Commanders’ strongest unit of their entire team is their defensive line; they are still under-utilized. Washington’s defensive line consists of All-Pro defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, who I believe to be one of the most underrated edge rushers in the league, and serviceable backup James Smith-Williams. This is an elite unit, and it is unfathomable to me that even after showing that it is successful when they are sent on blitzes to rush the quarterback, the coaching staff still continuously sends three or four-man rushes. The defensive play-calling has been far too conservative. It allows players like Derrick Henry to easily get five to 10-yard runs and quarterbacks to find open receivers across the middle for first downs. It seems as though the coaching staff is too afraid of big plays occurring downfield, but they are happening regardless. Quite honestly, big plays will happen at some point, no matter what defense you run, but why not use your strongest unit heavily, especially when number two overall pick Chase Young returns from injury, to give the team the best chance at winning?
Derrick Henry Is Back!
After a few rough games to start his season, Henry has bounced back with back-to-back triple-digit yardage games with a combined three touchdowns in the last two weeks. This excites me, as I have always been a Derrick Henry fan, but I am also a fantasy owner of him this year, so it is relieving to see him play like his usual self. I felt that most people were overreacting to Henry’s slow start, saying he was washed due to age or couldn’t operate without defenses worrying about the threat of A.J. Brown, and I was right. I knew Henry would need a few weeks to pick back up steam after only playing one game since his foot injury during the middle of last season. He was by far the best running back in the league up to that point. His yardage is up since his usage has gone up after his coaches have decided he is healthy enough to be the offensive centerpiece again. He has already accumulated five touchdowns this season.
Washington Needs To Overhaul Their Coaching Staff
As I alluded to earlier, an abundance of Washington’s misfortunes this season have been because of its coaching staff. To reiterate, many of Washington’s defensive woes have not been because of a lack of talent, but because of poor play-calling from Jack Del Rio. Instead of using his best weapon, that being the defensive line to dictate the pace of the defense, Washington has relied on their secondary and linebackers in zones, which have not worked well to date. Moving to offensive coordinator Scott Turner, his play calling has not set quarterback Carson Wentz up for success behind this mediocre offensive line. Instead of giving Wentz two- or three-step drop plays to make quick throws, he forces him to take six- or seven-step drops, giving pass rushers time to get to him in the backfield. Lastly, Ron Rivera, one of the NFL’s most veteran coaches, has been anything but impressive in his time with Washington. His combined record is 15-23 with two losing seasons, and he is on his way to his third. His time management during games has been poor, waiting far too long to call timeouts and challenging plays that clearly won’t be overturned, and not challenging plays that would have, like DeVonta Smith’s catch during the Philadelphia Eagles game. Unfortunately for Washington, this has been a failed experiment under coach Rivera, and I believe it’s time to move on.