Washington's defensive unit has continued to ascend within Jack Del Rio's scheme over the last year. During Tuesday's presser, head coach Ron Rivera could not help but note the level of confidence and comfort the defense is playing with a year after Del Rio implemented zone-match concepts in his scheme.
"I think the thing that you can really point to really is just remember last year we talked about how the defense was working on something different and how they were trying to get that zone-match down? It's different now." Rivera stated about the current state of Washington's secondary.
Zone-match coverages are when defenders adjust their zone drops to match the offense's route patterns before getting their eyes back on the quarterback. Some of the best teachings (weekly spiral and usafootball are good resources) on the internet can come from studying the Alabama Crimson Tide's defense under head coach Nick Saban.
"You see them, they're comfortable, they're confident in it," Rivera continued. "I know [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] and them [the defensive staff] looked at it, made a couple adjustments to it, and those players have just adapted it so quickly. I mean, they are so far ahead of where they were last season."
It's good to note how quickly the players have adapted to Del Rio's implementation of the zone-match principles. Communication is always crucial within the secondary, but with zone-match, there's an even more significant emphasis due to the need to read and react to the offenses' pattern distribution.
"Well, I think the communication aspect and understanding how to use the different tools that come with the defenses that Jack and the defensive coaches have worked on and put together," Rivera said when asked about how the defense was further ahead this year. "You know, 'cause these little tools that give them opportunities to read and check certain things, and they seem to really have a good feel for that."
It has only been a couple of days into Training Camp, so it is something to monitor as time progresses. Still, if the defense can avoid the slow start they endured in 2022, the secondary being in lockstep with one another will be a major reason.
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