Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)
Looking forward to the future by evaluating the development of LB Jamin Davis
When Jamin Davis was drafted, the Commanders likely envisioned him developing into this ultra-athletic linebacker that could matchup with athletic tight ends and running backs in coverage, and roam freely behind four first-round defensive lineman in the run game. However, in his rookie year he struggled as he was asked to play the Mike (middle) linebacker role which involves making all the calls and checks at the line of scrimmage. This caused Davis to slow down and think at the snap instead of just reacting and playing fast.
He shifted back to the Will (weak side) linebacker spot in his second year and started to show flashes of the athleticism that saw him drafted so high, but was inconsistent with it. This year we’ve seen him become far more confident and consistent with his play in the run game.
On this play, the Eagles look to work a couple of double teams inside on the defensive tackles, driving them back up towards the linebackers. For Davis, he has the left guard and working together to secure defensive tackle Jon Ridgeway and looking to drive him backwards towards Davis, where one of the two blockers can then peel off and pick him up. In his rookie year, Davis would have held his position at the snap and taken far too long to diagnose things, but here he reacts instantly.
As soon as the ball is snapped, Davis is driving down towards the line of scrimmage, reading the play as he goes. He quickly realizes what’s happening as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Had he held his position, he would have enabled the double team to work up to him nice and easily, but instead he attacks his gap with speed. This forces the left guard to peel off the double team earlier than he anticipated, which has two positive effects for Washington. The first is that Ridgeway is no longer caught on a double team and can work to shed his one-on-one. The second is that Davis gets there too quick for the left guard to do anything about. The guard attempts to cut off Davis, but he uses his momentum and physicality to burst through the hole and into the backfield, where he meets the running back head on and makes the tackle.
The Commanders will have one early decision to make on Davis this offseason with regards to his fifth-year option. First-round picks all sign four-year contracts with a fifth-year option built in that the team can pick up. That option year is often very expensive and fully guaranteed, so I’d be surprised if the new regime decides to pick that up given what Davis has produced so far and how long it’s taken him to get to his current level.
However, that doesn’t mean Davis can’t still become an important part of this team going forward. He is still under contract for next season, so I’d expect him to start at the Will linebacker spot. The Commanders will have plenty of other needs to fill, including the Mike linebacker spot, so moving on from Davis this offseason doesn’t really make much sense. While he hasn’t lived up to his draft hype, he has eventually developed into a nice player with the potential to get better still. I think he’ll be one of the core pieces of the defense in 2024 and playing to prove he’s worth a contract beyond that.
The Washington Commanders claimed rookie Kyu Blu Kelly off waivers after cutting Danny Johnson.
Kelly was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round, 157th overall, of the 2023 NFL Draft. The son of former 11-year NFL-veteran cornerback Brian Kelly, the Stanford alum could give the Commanders some depth in the secondary in the final four games of the season.
As a former track star, he possesses both the speed and athleticism to remain in step with receivers in coverage. While most proficient in man coverage, Kelly has the ability to play in some Cover 3, as well.
He is aggressive at the catch point but could use some improvement in his engagement when playing off-coverage. As such, he has the chance to provide the Commanders with another potentially-explosive playmaker within their secondary.
Kelly has been on a bit of a roller coaster in his first season in the NFL. He was drafted by the Ravens, but was cut at the end of training camp. A day later, the Seattle Seahawks claimed him off waivers and he played in five games with the team. However, the Seahawks cut Kelly on Nov. 11.
Four days later, he found his third NFL home with the Green Bay Packers. Kelly made one appearance with the Packers on Thanksgiving Day and played in his first defensive snap. He played exclusively on special teams in Seattle.
Now, he’ll have a chance to earn another opportunity with the Commanders.
What’s the latest on Ron Rivera and the Commanders, perhaps the league’s hottest coaching seat?
Fowler: This one is a relatively easy call, Dan. The expectation here is Rivera will be out after four seasons, and front-office changes could be on the way, too. I’m told Rivera is at peace with his Washington tenure, and that people in the building are openly bracing for major changes. Owner Josh Harris has developed a good working relationship with Rivera since taking over the franchise in June, but four consecutive losing seasons is next to impossible for a coach to survive, even one with Rivera’s stature. Harris will most likely be looking for a sustainable partnership built on quality leadership, and his track record as owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils suggests he’ll value a blend of analytics and on-field acumen in a coach-general manager pairing.
Graziano: Yeah, my understanding is Rivera will get to coach out the season, but then changes are likely, with him and GM Martin Mayhew both in danger of being replaced by new ownership. What I’m curious about here is whether offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy can get a serious look, be it in Washington or with one of these other potential openings. Are you hearing anything on Bieniemy and his chances this cycle? It seems the way Sam Howell has played in his first season as a starting QB is a point in Bieniemy’s favor.
Fowler: Well, I do expect Bieniemy to get interviews once again. He has shown he can help a young quarterback develop and design an offense independent of Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Those are positives. His unapologetic coaching style definitely isn’t for everyone, but Washington also needed a culture shakeup, and Bieniemy tried to provide that. Perhaps he gets a look in Washington as the in-house candidate. Overall, he’ll be a player in the carousel, but whether he’s a major factor at this point remains in question.
Podcasts & videos
Episode 719 - Guest: @BenStandig. #Commanders intel & analysis.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) December 13, 2023
- what if Washington had traded for Matthew Stafford?
- lack of win-now moves under Ron Rivera
- what needs more work this offseason - the offense or defense?
- Jamin Davis fifth-year option?https://t.co/GlNKSti1Pc
On video with Logan Paulsen. Why the Shanahan coaching tree has been successful. Goes beyond XOs but the scheme matters too. Could factor here in future. Sam Howell’s progress. More. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/lqTVrPeZ1E— John Keim (@john_keim) December 13, 2023
Washington Commanders Shaded by Defensive End Montez Sweat | Eric Bieniemy Out of Step | Eugene Shen
New @TraporDive ️ #HTTC@LetMualTellit @DCSportsDre @SaintWah talk Jon Allen and Terry McLaurin future in Washington, Howell trial run entering last stretch, & more.— COMMANDERS FOOTBALL (@HogsHaven) December 13, 2023
NFC East links
Dallas clinches playoff berth with:
- DAL win or tie
Philadelphia clinches playoff berth with:
- PHI win or tie
NFL league links
The NFL intends to ban the hip-drop tackle, Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent say…. https://t.co/0RR08IGA71— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) December 14, 2023