The Commanders start off their season 1-0 after a 60-minute roller coaster against the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday afternoon. Several swings in the game left both Jaguars and Commanders fans on edge throughout the game. For the Commanders, three turnovers amid a 19-point swing in favor of Jacksonville could have spelled doom for Washington early in the fourth quarter. However, Washington’s offensive and defensive units stepped up when it mattered most.
Former first-round picks Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne all had good days against the Jaguars. Jonathan Allen had several pressures and one sack. Montez Sweat had three hits on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tying his career high on QB hits. Daron Payne had one sack and three quarterback hits, which was a career-high for him.
It did not start so good for the defensive line, though; often, Trevor Lawrence was very comfortable in the pocket and could easily find his targets during their opening seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive. In turn, Jack Del Rio made pressure adjustments, which ultimately contributed to Washington’s constant pressure from the interior, edge, and even from the secondary with some well-timed fire zone blitzes. As time went on, Allen, Sweat, and Payne found their groove and were able to work their matchups well.
“I will. And what I also will say is in the fourth quarter, when they were gassed, they still came up. Kudos to [DE] Montez [Sweat] and those other defensive ends. He kinda led that group, and then [DT] Jonathan [Allen], [DT] Daron [Payne], and [DL] Daniel Wise and [DE] Efe Obada have to play three-technique. They really came through, and that’s huge, especially in a game like this.” - Head Coach Ron Rivera on the defensive line’s pass rush throughout the game.
Regardless of how it started for the Commanders, and it was not pretty for a good portion of the game, Washington ultimately closed the game with its three prized draft picks among the defensive line. Montez Sweat’s pressure and final quarterback hit of the day contributed to an errant pass from Lawrence and an interception by second-year Safety Darrick Forrest.