Washington Football Team players are not the only ones licking their wounds from a 43-21 beatdown by the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Head Coach Ron Rivera and his coaching staff received a comprehensive beatdown, too, and left Orchard Park, New York, with so many unanswered questions. What’s going on with his defensive unit? Why isn’t his pass-rush getting to the quarterback? How does the middle of the field continue to be wide open? Why aren’t they getting off of the field on third downs?
told @kevinsheehanDC I'd find these 3rd down stats. Courtesy of @ESPNStatsInfo I have them. Since 2011, Washington is 29th in third-down D and 31st when it's 3-7 or longer. last year they were 6th on third down and 12th on 3-7+. This year: 29th on 3-7+ (45%!!) and 31st overall— John Keim (@john_keim) September 28, 2021
There’s a ton of nuance in breaking down why exactly Washington is struggling to the level they are. There is never just one reason why things fail, but a cumulation of errors. It also does not help when Washington’s “star” players fail to impact games because they aren’t coordinated with the rest of the defensive line.
“One of the things that we saw, we really kind of saw it on tape this past Sunday was rush wasn’t as coordinated as it needed to be. We had a couple instances where when Daron [Payne] would win to whichever side he was with the end, he’d win but unfortunately, the end wasn’t coordinated with him. He did a nice up and under move and got himself back inside, we had the end wash around to the outside.
A couple of times when the end went to the outside, Daron made a nice outside move as well. So we had two guys outside. And again, it’s one of those things that they have to have a little more coordination. They got to work a little bit better together and just understanding where each other’s going to be. Because again, you need to make sure you’ve got an inside guy and an outside guy. You can’t have two guys going into the same area.” - Ron Rivera on the defensive front getting pressure.
Rivera is telling the media that the defensive ends at times were not on the same page as their interior rushers, in a game where defensive tackle Daron Payne looked good as a pass-rusher.
My question is, at what point does the head coach begin to leave his imprint on this 2021 team? Washington’s perceived “strength” was their defense, and that defense is reeling at a significant rate. A wise man once told me that it is not what the coach knows; it is what his players have learned. Three weeks into the season, Ron Rivera has been on record identifying the same issues repeatedly to the media, highlighting that players are not playing together, but individually and it is negatively affecting the defensive unit.
I have said all week that it is time to face the music; the truth of the matter to me is that although the season is not over, and there is time (albeit not a lot) to turn things around for Washington’s defense, understand and recognize what you are currently watching. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s defense has been awful, and Ron Rivera has told you three weeks in a row that there are some problems that will not be quick fixes. So, what that tells me and should tell everyone else, is that Rivera needs to implement some tangible, hands-on corrections to this defensive unit that will stop the bleeding until they can find the permanent fixes.
It’s not my job (nor is it yours) to determine what those corrections must be from a head coach’s perspective, because it does not come down to just benching the player you dislike the most or running another coverage scheme because you think the one they are running sucks. It’s much deeper than these things, and Rivera will need to inject something in the heads of these players that they can hold on to, and that is something that we can only find out after it takes place.
What do you think about this? Agree or disagree? And do you think Rivera will turn things around before it’s too late?
Will Rivera be able to right the ship defensively this year?
This poll is closed
Yes; I’m 100 percent confident that he will.
No; this defense has been overrated and has exposed itself.
Maybe; I’m not sold that he will, but they are talented enough to overcome this.