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.
If it feels like the third down D has been bad forever... well: Since the start of the 2010 season Washington ranks 30th on third downs. They're last since 2018... Happy Sunday!— John Keim (@john_keim) August 21, 2022
It is concerning, and several issues have been the culprit behind Washington’s inability to get off the field against opposing starting units.
You look at the result & see a 30-yd completion. But it's hard to defend in man for more than 3 seconds, Bobby had to stay with his man for 5. Both OTs jump set Sweat/Smith-Williams, rush paths are instantly cut off. Twist timing was terrible/JSW fooled by pump. An L upfront. pic.twitter.com/BJvqma9ArL— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) August 22, 2022
This is a damn ball. 3rd and 10 vs. a six man pressure. That slight hesitation by Kam carrying Watson and he's up the seam for 40. pic.twitter.com/magEau6mvV— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) August 21, 2022
The biggest killer was from another great read & recognition by Baker. 3rd & 5, great push by Jon Allen to create instant pressure, but Baker was even quicker identifying where the ball needed to go. Quick to recognize his dig should be open. DJ gives up inside w/inside leverage. pic.twitter.com/z8wzGQtE0O— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) August 17, 2022
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.
Perfect setup up between Payne/Allen on the stunt. Payne sold the OL on his initial rush path & Allen came through and cleared 51 out the way. Edge rushers was able to keep Jameis in the pocket & an easy sack for Payne. #HTTC pic.twitter.com/L4FGaAv5e4— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) July 23, 2022
Good 3rd down dial-up for JDR (or maybe Sam Mills?). Aligning Chase/Montez on the same side with a well-executed twist game w/Matt, DaRon, & Chase. ATL IOL fails to pick it up, and Chase gets a free path to the QB. pic.twitter.com/DL64bJ8oFk— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) July 20, 2022
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.
Are you buying or selling the defensive issues you’re seeing from the Commanders? And why?
Buying or Selling Commanders defensive issues?
This poll is closed