The former No. 2 overall selection is back.
Commanders could take things easy with Chase Young in Week 2
Not picking up Young’s fifth-year option following a torrid run of luck on the health front was the correct call from Rivera and the Commanders. That doesn’t mean they’ve given up on him entirely and the head coach was delighted with the way his edge presence applied himself when it would have been easy to throw in the towel based on his comments via the team’s website.
“Yes, very positive. A lot of good things throughout the week and there’s a lot of confidence. Obviously, we have to be smart because it is his first introduction to full contact, full speed contact, other than what he had in practice this week. He had a very good week. The young man has worked his tail off and I think he’s done the things that they’ve needed to see. That’s the real big positive for us going forward.”
When discussing the plan for Young, Rivera hinted that the pass-rusher might be on a snap count until they see how he responds to genuine game-day physicality in a competitive setting. That will dictate the player’s usage and how much the Commanders will count on him at Mile High Stadium.
“We most certainly have to be aware and have a pitch count, obviously. The biggest thing more than thing else is the young man has just been terrific from day one in training camp, worked his tail off, had the unfortunate [injury] where we had to put him down for a little bit and then now he’s back up. He’s been working hard. He’s done everything he needs to. He’s been chomping at the bit, so we’re excited for his opportunity.”
With Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young active for the first time this season the defense is hoping to see a boost in their already impactful pass rush.
Dobbs was able to attempt 30 passes against the Commanders defense, but he was also sacked three times and hit six more.
If Washington has its way in Week 2 Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is going to see just as much pressure, if not more.
Helping accomplish that mission will be fourth-year defensive end Chase Young, making his first regular season appearance this weekend.
“Oh, I’m real excited to get him back out there,” defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina said of Young’s impending debut. “You know, anytime you get a good football player to play for you and help the team win games, you get excited.”
That’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of excitement last week with other ‘good football players’ like defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, and defensive end Montez Sweat in action alongside James Smith-Williams who took the bulk of snaps in relief of Young.
“As a group we focus on leading this team and all the teams I’ve played on, and I’ve coached, that’s how it’s been,” Zgonina continued. “It’s always the front, you know, for the defense, it’s the D-Line. We’re the first line.”
2. Keep Russell Wilson contained in the pocket.
It’s only one game, but Russell Wilson looked much better compared to what we saw in 2022, completing 79% of his passes in the loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson rushed for one yard on one carry in Week 1, but Ron Rivera said on Wednesday that extending plays was still part of Wilson’s skill set. Wilson has also burned Washington several times in the past with his legs.
The Commanders have to make sure that Wilson stays in the pocket on Sunday.
Much of that responsibility falls on the defensive line, which dominated the Cardinals and helped swing momentum back into Washington’s favor. Aside from the two forced fumbles in the second half, Washington shut down any attempts from Josh Dobbs to carry the ball himself on quarterback keepers.
Dobbs finished the day with three rushes for -3 yards.
The key for the defensive line will be for them to maintain their rushing lanes, although it will be tempting to break contain as Wilson tries to scramble in the backfield. Both of Wilson’s touchdowns in the first half came when he was running outside of the pocket.
Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph faces Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell and he knows the importance of heaping pressure on him.
The Broncos’ defensive line didn’t get a sack in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders, and coordinator Vance Joseph knows how crucial is it to get after Sam Howell.
“It’s absolutely important,” Joseph said. “Last week, didn’t have enough pressure on the quarterback. The third-down win percentage showed that. Obviously, getting pressure on the quarterback and getting him off his spot and winning third downs are going to be critical in this game. In last week’s game, third down is where we kind of fell off. That and penalties. Winning third downs is always going to be [important] for us. That’s our priority. Then it’s possessions, and then it’s points. That’s always going to be important for us—pressure the quarterback and win third downs.”
Howell was sacked six times against the Cardinals in what will no doubt give the Broncos some confidence that they can get their first sack of the season when Howell comes to town.
For the Commanders though, speeding up Howell’s internal clock is something that has a great deal of importance attached to it.
Podcasts & videos
New @TraporDive film session is live.— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) September 15, 2023
The best of Eric Bieniemy vs. Arizona, I broke down some of EB's best moments from the 20-16 win against the Cardinals and what we might look forward to the rest of the season. #HTTC
Like/Comment/Subscribe https://t.co/3DacaN28sg pic.twitter.com/LXXVLzdFeM
Check out the best photos from Washington’s previous matchup with the Denver Broncos. (Photos vis The Associated Press)
NFC East links
Blogging the Boys
One team has already played. What does that mean for the rest of the division?
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
There couldn’t have been a sloppier way to start a football game than what happened on Thursday night. The Eagles and Vikings were playing turnover tennis, each making a bigger mistake than the last.
Before the Vikings scored their first touchdown, which gave them a 7-3 lead, the previous four combined possessions ended in Minnesota fumbling a punt, Jalen Hurts throwing an interception, a Vikings fumble, and a missed field goal by Philadelphia— just sloppy football.
After that, the Eagles ran the ball and continued with that game plan for the rest of the night. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings returned to make it a one-score game, but it was too late.
Dallas Cowboys (1-0) vs. New York Jets (1-0)
At the beginning of the season, this could [have been] the game of the year. The Cowboys have not beaten Aaron Rodgers at home, and Mike McCarthy has yet to beat his former pupil since leaving Green Bay.
Unfortunately, that will no longer happen. On Monday Night Football, Rodgers tore his Achilles on the fourth play of the Jets opening drive. Now, their season rests on the shoulders of their backup and former first-round pick Zach Wilson, who was set to sit behind Rodgers and learn for a few years.
Washington Commanders (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (0-1)
The Commanders, led by their new commander-in-chief Josh Harris, won their first game under the new regime. While the Arizona Cardinals put up more of a fight than expected, it was always a game Washington should have won.
However, the first-year starter at quarterback, Sam Howell, put his team in unfavorable positions by fumbling a ball that gave Arizona seven points and throwing an interception. There were bright spots, like his rushing touchdown in the red zone, but it looks more of the same as what they had in Taylor Heinicke. If things keep going the way they are, there could be a change at quarterback if the team believes Jacoby Brissett gives them a better chance to win games. Right now, they are not at that point.
The Commanders are traveling to face a desperate Denver team that seemingly can’t afford to start 0-2 after so much promise of change this offseason. The advantage should be in Washington’s favor, they have a better overall defense and a pass rush that could make Russell Wilson extremely uncomfortable in the pocket.
New York Giants (0-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
The Cowboys were always favored to win their opener against the Giants, but New York was never projected to lay the city-sized egg that they did. The team that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs differed from the team that took the field on Sunday night against Dallas.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but it shouldn’t be shoveled on Daniel Jones. The offensive line did him no favors and allowed seven sacks to obliterate whatever game plan they had on offense. Not to mention, the weather was horrible. However, it was the same conditions Dallas had to play in, and they put up 40 points.
Luckily for Brian Daboll, the only way to go is up from that performance. There won’t be another point in the season that should feel that bad. If there is, then the fan base may revolt against ownership.
The Giants should win in Arizona, but one forgotten wrinkle in this matchup is the Cardinals’ head coach, Jonathan Gannon, who played New York a ton while he was in the NFC East. He was also the defensive coordinator who stonewalled the Giants in the playoffs a season ago.
NFL league links
Pro Football Talk
After years of forcing reporters to play a guessing game as to which players possibly were or weren’t fined for penalties called or not called during the prior week of games, the NFL has begun announcing all fines.
The full slate of Week 1 fines are here.
One specific type of infraction that previously went underreported related to the rule against lowering the helmet to initiate forcible contact with an opponent. Rarely is a falg thrown for such penalties. Far more often, players are fined.
It’s still not clear which fines relate to lowering the helmet, since the league announces those fouls as unnecessary roughness.
For the first week of the regular season, there were 32 total fines. Most were for unnecessary roughness. Four were for unsportsmanlike conduct. Two were for an illegal hit on a quarterback. One was for an illegal peel back block.
Jim Trotter is the NFL's worst legal nightmare; he has a compelling story to tell, he's going to tell it, he does not care about the consequences for doing so, and he quite possibly will refuse any offer to settle the case. https://t.co/QkbVTblPAa— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 16, 2023