Washington Commanders Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio spoke to the media after the last practice before their first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Friday night. Del Rio emphasized the team’s focus on forcing more turnovers this season. That was a big reason Washington drafted Emmanuel Forbes in the first round, and Del Rio said he’s a fast, smart, and twitchy player. Washington also draft Quan Martin in the 2nd round, and traded up to draft K.J. Henry in the 5th round. Del Rio also wants the team to start faster, which has been a big issue for the team under HC Ron Rivera.
LIVE: DC Jack Del Rio speaks with the media after Wednesday's practice https://t.co/xqYYz0SPch— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) August 9, 2023
Oh, I love it. Been good spirited practices. Good competition, and guys are improving. Guys are growing on both sides of the ball and I love it. It’s been great.
Jack Del Rio: “If you want to be great, there are no shortcuts.” Pleased with how his defense is working in camp pic.twitter.com/c19JN01SOB— George Wallace (@GWallaceWTOP) August 9, 2023
A lot of attention to detail. Guys have been working hard. Taking care of their bodies so they can work hard the next day. It’s a process. You come into camp, there’s a lot of work to do if you want to be great, there’s no shortcut. You gotta put in the work and our guys have bought into that. We’re all accountable. We’re working hard together and improving.
Focus of the defense:
Del Rio said there is a certain level of focus that kicked in later in the season. Wants to speed that process up to get success quicker— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 9, 2023
You gotta be sharp. You gotta be on top of it. No mental mistakes. Physically have yourself trained and ready to go. It’s all the details that we’re working on. It’s like when you’re talking about athletes preparing for a season, there’s just a certain level of focus that we have kind of kicked in after experiencing some things early and then growing. Well, we’ve done that, now it’s time to start fast and that’s gonna be a rallying cry for us for this season.
Jack Del Rio addressing the media. Starting fast is the No. 1 emphasis for the defense this season. Starting games fast and starting the season fast. Also mentioned creating more turnovers is a priority— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 9, 2023
Big focus, two things, start fast. We wanna make sure we’re doing that. Start the season fast, start series fast, start the games fast, so that’s the number one emphasis. The other is force more turnovers. So really, we’ve been, you know, since I’ve been here, we’ve been mostly in the top five or so in the league as far as stopping people from gaining yards. Third down, last year was really good. Those are important things that continue to do well, but we need to generate more turnovers for the health of the team. Another turnover here or there in several of the ball games could make the difference between four or five wins or not. And add four wins to what we had last year, we’d be in pretty good shape.
Absolutely. That’s a big part of it. We’ve got a good nucleus. Young, talented players that are working hard. That part’s excellent and then we sprinkle in a couple guys. We got two DBs early. We got a couple ends late. Those guys are mixing into the nucleus of players that are returning. We added a couple free agents and so, we’ll put it all together, but this is the time where you come together and build your library for what you can do all year and all those things. But again, for us, two things start fast, force more turnovers.
Evaluating the defensive line rotation behind DE Montez Sweat and DE Chase Young in Friday’s game:
Yeah, it’ll be a good time to let players that we don’t know as much about, to learn more about them, to look at some of the development of the guys that, that are here returning, coming back, and roles are being created. You know, one thing we want to do is want to have a lot of usage roles, packages, things, and we’re building towards that right now with what we’re doing. So, it’ll be great to see them in live action.
Cool story from Jack Del Rio - explains that Ray Lewis once said to him, "Coach what I love about you is you keep it real. Always do that." Del Rio replied: "I promise I will."— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 9, 2023
My coaching style has always been to be very demanding, make sure I’m communicating clarity. Any kind of gray, I think we have to eliminate the gray, so guys have a chance to play fast. Help them understand. Share some of the wisdom. Help them understand situations that are gonna come up, that present themselves. How we want to be able to respond to handle those situations? And then really this time of year, you’re building, you know, that cohesiveness where it’s a unit, it’s about team. And you have a bunch of individuals, that’s great, but unless we come together and work as a team, it’s not gonna be what we want. So that’s the big push this time of year.
Ray Lewis said to me many years ago, he said, coach, what I love about you is you keep it real. And he said, always do that. I said, I promise I will. I will always keep it real with guys. I believe in that. I believe in communication. I listen, I listen but at the end of the day, once we settle on what we’re gonna be, that is the Commander way. That is what we’re gonna do and there’s no backing away from that.
Defensive improvement in zone coverage:
Yeah, I’m not getting into specifics of our defense. The bottom line is I think Vies and the defensive staff, the secondary, Rock and Cristian, those guys are doing a great job teaching, helping our guys understand what we need to get done. We’re playing fast. We’re working on communication and the things that need to happen so that we can make sure we’re not allowing balls to go over our head. Not allowing big chunk plays to get out on us and I think they’ve done a great job with that. The detail, the teaching, the encouragement, the development. That’s all part of the process and we’ve had a co good, co good camp to start thus far.
Importance of a good QB to an NFL team:
Well, yeah, I mean, you gotta have one. It was a big difference when we added a guy like Peyton Manning and I was in Denver. Changed the whole building. I know what that can be. You also have the ability to take a young player like Sam and give him an opportunity to grow and see his talent and see what he’s capable of. And you got Jacoby here who’s had a good camp and those guys are working hard. So, I feel confident that we’re gonna come out of this thing with a quarterback that can help operate and lead. But the most important thing is that we’re really good around him and that we’re not putting it on our quarterback right now.
Now, he may become that player that can put us on his shoulders, but right now, we’ve got to be a team that comes around and rallies around who we have and who we’re playing with and it’s up to us to take care of business defensively. It’s up to us on special teams to do our role. It’s the offensive line. It’s the backs, the receivers, the tight ends. Everybody being on the same page. And I love the way that Eric is working that group and demanding of that group. It’s been very healthy for us, for our football team, and I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it.
Del Rio said Emmanuel Forbes is "very twitchy, very fast," but he's also very smart. That combination of speed, quickness and intelligence is great to get in a player— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) August 9, 2023
Well, he’s very twitchy, very fast but he’s very smart. So, I like the way he is working at it. Got a long way to go yet, but the combination of speed, quickness, intelligence, it’s a great combination for us. He’s gonna be a good player for us right now. He’s just growing in our system and learning and understanding and going up against good people. You know, when you go up against Terry, he’s an explosive receiver, so gives him some good work.