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The Commanders pass rush has been underwhelming, but there is one alignment that they have not used yet that may help in the regular season

The Washington Commanders pass rush, outside of a couple of linemen, has been underwhelming. But do not forget Washington’s “Cinco” package, which could create different results in the regular season.

Washington Commanders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

The Commanders defense has created a legitimately reasonable cause for concern among most fans and local reporters. The starting defense has given up 24 points in four possessions to the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs starters, respectively. Let us not forget a continuance of their decade-long third-down issues.

It is concerning, and several issues have been the culprit behind Washington’s inability to get off the field against opposing starting units.

While the issues are complex, the most straightforward conclusion from the first two games is that Washington has displayed an inability to marry its front-end to its back-end. As a result, while the pass rush is incapable of getting home and allowing extra time for the quarterbacks to find receivers, the secondary is quickly getting beat and not allowing the pass rush enough time to get home. This conclusion is, again, the simplest form.

Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daniel Wise have constantly created pressure up front against the starting units, which is a good sign. However, it is not enough, and they will not always be on the field at the same time, all the time, in every game. Allen, Sweat, and Wise need help from their teammates, and I do not see that when their teammates have opportunities on the field. Whether beating their man or remaining disciplined, the rest of the line rotation struggles to create pressure.

It is concerning, but that may not be the book on this unit for the entire season. Washington has yet to showcase its “Cinco” package in the preseason, which provided great value in 2021 by generating pressure in several ways.

As a refresher, the concept is meant for each offensive lineman to occupy a defender, meaning that it is man-on-man all across the board and has very few slide protection options available to the offensive line. The offense decides to keep either a tight end or running back in to block, or both.

It is essential to evaluate how linemen can create pressure in one-on-one during the preseason because coaches could then get an idea of what they can trust them with during the regular season and what they will have to develop. Nevertheless, Washington did an outstanding job running line games (stunts/twists) in this package and even fire zone blitzes that created pressure on the quarterback.

The Cinco package and Washington’s production in it can be a longer conversation for another day; however, understand that Washington has some pressure options in their toolbox that they have not utilized yet while trying other pressure calls in the preseason. If the pass rush looks drastically better in the regular season than it has in the preseason, from a collective unit standpoint, this defense will be in much better shape than most are currently imagining.

In the latest Hogs Haven podcast episode, Commanders analyst Mark Bullock and I had an extensive conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of the team. We also go into detail about how Carson Wentz has developed to this point with Scott Turner and his receiver core, Turner’s ability to gameplan around Brian Robinson, and the defensive issues surrounding the Commanders.

The episode is available now.

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