The Commanders defense has taken control of the narrative about them since their poor start to the season. The night and day difference in the defensive production can be attributed to several factors, from the opponents that they have played, players performing better, and overall better coaching. In addition, the decision to move on from cornerback William Jackson III has provided several benefits to the defense, allowing Bobby McCain to move around throughout the secondary and Benjamin St-Juste to do the same.
The Commanders younger players are starting to carve out their roles in the defense, and it is a byproduct of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio trusting and the players delivering for their coach. “I think what’s been interesting is really not just what Jack and the defensive staff have come up, but the way they’ve been using the different personnel groupings,” Head Coach Ron Rivera said after Wednesday’s practice on DC Jack Del Rio. “Some of the creative ideas they’ve come up with and how they’ve used the different players. I mean, one of the things that we’ve talked about a lot has been positional flex. And when you have guys that can play, whether it’s safety and then come down the box and play the buffalo or a corner that come and play the nickel, a defensive end that can play like a standup Will linebacker and a three four. They’ve gotten creative with their guys, and that’s been very impressive.”
Rivera is rightfully impressed with Jack Del Rio and his defensive coaches and has shown to be quite impressed with the development of the young group of players as well. “I mean, it’s a good, solid young group of guys that have really taken the next step. But in watching Jack, too, it’s like his confidence level in the players, enough that he can do these things, and he’s willing to put these guys in even tougher positions. Because I think he’s very comfortable and very confident in the players we have.”
The book is not written yet on the Commanders defensive unit, but it is no doubt that they are trending upward. How do they finish in their last seven games, though? We will see.