The Washington Commanders are preparing for a home game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and both of their coordinators had media availability after practice. First up was DC Jack Del Rio who said it was great to have a healthy Chase Young back on the field. He also had praise for LB Jamin Davis who forced a key turnover when he chased down Broncos QB Russell Wilson.
Del Rio said the Buffalo Bills have had a good offense since drafting QB Josh Allen. Their offense is explosive, and they keep adding new weapons. The Bills are tough to deal with, but Washington will need to pressure and contain to try to avoid the big plays that have still been happening this season.
Jack Del Rio
DC Jack Del Rio speaks to the media before practice https://t.co/O0aQJrfRM3— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) September 21, 2023
Jack Del Rio on Chase Young’s return pic.twitter.com/yDfgPcYiqo— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) September 21, 2023
It was great to have him back. He brings a lot of energy. He loves football and he’s infectious.
The more good players you have on the field, the harder it is for the defense or for the offense to handle what you’re bringing. Just another good player added. Happy to have him involved. He did a great job staying into it mentally and doing all the things he could do, and it was a good start.
He’s playing well. He was impactful in the game and I thought he and Cody both had good games, played well, were impactful for us, and it was good to see.
Draft status determining playing time:
I would say about zero, zero percent involved in my thinking, zero percent. I’d say what I’m thinking about is deploying 11 guys against the things they’re trying to do and give us the best chance to be successful. Help get the ball back for our offense, help the team win. That’s all we’re about. I think he’s doing a good job. I think he’s developing, I think he’s off to a really good start to the season so that’s great. We need that from all our guys. Where we weren’t as sharp as we want to be, we clean it up. But we are moving forward and it’s all about Buffalo right now.
Emmanuel Forbes Jr.:
Guys some good, some like to have better, but I thought one thing that was really good was that the moment everybody, I told him this is the NFL, everybody can make plays. So if you happen to give one up, you need to move on. Nobody’s sweating that. That’s what he did. I thought he did a nice job of just settling down, continuing to compete, and end up coming with a big play later in the game. That’s what we’re going to need from him.
Perfect defensive formation:
One that helps the team win. It’s all about the team and winning. Individual accolades and being able to beat your chest, that’s all great, but really it comes down to the longer you’re around the game, you recognize it’s all about winning. It’s all about our fans are going to go home happy when we win and we’re going to have great Mondays when we win. It’s all about the team doing all it can, and sometimes it’s collectively. Sometimes one phase is operating at a higher level than another, but we all pull together and come out with a win.
I think, as a defense coordinator, I establish high standards, my expectations, the things that I want us to strive for, but ultimately it needs to be something that the players grab and they make it something they’re pushing and demanding of each other. When that happens, then really great things can occur.
Buffalo Bills offense:
They drafted a tight end in the first round. He’s a pretty good player. They are a concept driven unit. They do a great job. They’ve got good people. They’ve been explosive, and they’ve done it for a long time. Ever since that big athletic quarterback has been there, they’ve been tough to deal with. They’ve got a really good offense and that is really good team.
Yeah, that’s the key, to be on the hunt. Because you have to rush, and you have to go, but you have to have that awareness of the pack so you keep ‘em trapped. So that’s the challenge. When a guy’s a big gifted athlete like Josh is, that makes it just a bigger challenge.
Teams being aggressive on 4th down:
Wait, is Jack Del Rio the godfather of teams being aggressive on 4th down? pic.twitter.com/BdYnd1VPDz— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) September 21, 2023
18-point deficit in Denver:
Keep fighting and that’s what I conveyed to our guys. We keep playing, one play at a time, you just don’t know and that was kind of proof how we just were steadfast, there was a stretch where we went six series. We had a couple three and outs, we had a couple turnovers forced, held ‘em to a field goal on a short field and that was huge. So, that stretch of six series allowed us to have a chance to take over the game offensively really did a great job. That’s what we’re all about. Just keep competing.
Well, the game’s growing. I mean, it’s constantly changing. The quarterback run, you had to worry about a few different guys, now everybody runs, everybody runs a quarterback, everybody has guys that can move around and extend plays, and that’s just an element that’s part of it, an aggressive nature. Looking for shots, looking for opportunities to develop explosive plays, that’s just part of today’s NFL. It’s a long time that I’ve been in the league and watching where it was and where it is, and it continues at warp speed continues to move into a more space, more speed is required to deal with the speed and space that we’re facing.
Hail Mary touchdown:
It was poor execution on our part to allow that to occur. We were fortunate that we were able to make that play to get the stop after that. We feel like we’re well prepared for that, but that obviously didn’t come off the way you’d like.
Reviewed Denver’s scheme for Hail Mary’s:
Yeah, look, structurally and schematically, we’re always going to look at everything that occurs and make sure we’re doing the best things that we can to give us the best chance. We did not execute well there and that’s a chance to grow.
Assistant HC/OC Eric Bieniemy was up next and he was asked about comments from QB Sam Howell about picking the plays that he prefers in certain situations. Bieniemy believes in giving his QBs ownership, and working with them to determine best fits for certain situations. EB learned under Kansas City Chiefs HC Andy Reid, and that was a lesson he learned while working with Big Red. The team has confidence in Howell, and that showed last Sunday as he led the team on a big scoring run to get the victory.
Bieniemy was asked about being down 21-3 to the Denver Broncos last week, and needing to get aggressive with his play-calling to get the Commanders back into the game. He said he prepares his teams for the what ifs, and different situations that can come up during games. Bieniemy said the game is 60 minutes long, and they take it one play at a time. The team can’t “fold the tent” when they’re down multiple scores, and they showed some grit by fighting from behind, and taking the lead to win the game.
Asst HC/OC Eric Bieniemy speaks to the media before practice https://t.co/k8KvNfP4kX— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) September 21, 2023
Well, I just believe that offensively, you always gotta be prepared for the what ifs. So you don’t ever want to go into any game not having enough for different situations that might present themselves. So as always, we prepare and our quarterbacks are very much aware of exactly what we’re thinking about when those situations present themselves. That way, it’s no surprise. So, we want to make sure that our guys are always ready for the unexpected.
“Hell, we are going on Week 3… I’m just glad that he can take a snap and repeat the plays *chuckle* that we’re giving him… but he’s WAYYYYYYY passed that!” #HTTC #HowlinForHowell pic.twitter.com/BWrqtk2K7B— Trell | 2-0 | (@OhThatsTrell) September 21, 2023
Give the QB ownership:
Eric Bieniemy on trying to call plays that Sam Howell wants: "If players like certain things theyre going to try their best to make it work...It lets that player take ownership." EB says he learned that from Andy Reid to give the QB ownership— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) September 21, 2023
Well, let me just say this, first and foremost, I learned a long time ago, learned this as a player, and I’ve learned it as a coach. If players like certain things, guess what? They’re gonna try their best to make it work. So as a coach, you always want to give your quarterback that opportunity to have a ranking in certain situations. That way now you’re giving him the green light to take ownership in what we’re doing. That way, now, hey, this is the play that he chose. He should have a complete understanding of the what’s, the why’s and the how’s. And he should also have a complete understanding of why we believe this play should be successful. With Sam taking ownership with that, it forces him to take ownership, but also too, it puts that ownership on the players as well.
So, I’ve been accustomed to learning a lot from Coach Reid. This is something that I’ve learned from him as a coach, and it’s a great deal and a great sense of ownership that you’re giving to your quarterback, so I love it. I like the idea that when we come to the sideline, when things don’t go right, he could tell you exactly what happened, or he can tell you, ‘Hey, you know what? I should have did this or I should have did that. Well, hey, they didn’t give us the coverage, the exact coverage but this should have happened.’ So, I love the fact that he has that ownership.
Eric Bieniemy on Sean McDermott and the Bills’ defense pic.twitter.com/JIbQeUa9Q9— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) September 21, 2023
LB Matt Milano:
Eric Bieniemy is a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig fan of Bills all-pro LB Matt Milano: pic.twitter.com/hb5iDONEVc— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) September 21, 2023
Bieniemy on Bills LB Matt Milano: "He is a beast. I'm a fan of his. He probably doesn't get the respect that he should. He flies all over, he makes a number of tackles. On top of that he can cover. He's a key integral part of what [they] do."— John Keim (@john_keim) September 21, 2023
Eric Bieniemy: "In order to be a good screen [team,] your O-line has to make things happen downfield. They did an outstanding job last week."— John Keim (@john_keim) September 21, 2023
Happened on a few screens (Saahdiq Charles with a key block on the LB on Gibson's 36-yard screen, for example).
Commanders OC Eric Bieniemy loves versatility with his players.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) September 21, 2023
EB said today, "I think we have a pulse for who we are. You never want to put anyone in a box. You want to make sure you are giving them every opportunity to show off who they are and what they're about." pic.twitter.com/tM8P8q86mt
Bieniemy: 'We have a pulse for who we are. You never want to put anyone in a box; you want to give them every opportunity to show off who they are & what they're about. Most important part about coaching is developing those relationships and not saying he can't do this or this."— John Keim (@john_keim) September 21, 2023
We’re still learning and I think you are always learning your guys because certain guys are gonna do certain things in certain moments and other guys are gonna do other things. But at the end of the day, I think we got the pulse for who we are, but on top of that, you never want to put anybody in the box. You wanna make sure that you’re giving them every opportunity to show off exactly who they are and what they’re about. And I think that’s the most important thing of coaching is developing those relationships. Not saying where he can’t do that or he can’t do this. No, I want to give guys an opportunity to show me what they can or cannot do. And I think that’s important for us as a team, but it’s also important as a coach to not put anybody in the box and just allow all of those guys to be the very best versions of themselves.
Down 21-3 against Denver:
Keep playing. It’s a long game. At the end of the day, the only thing that we need to do is be the best team over a 60-minute period of time. It does not matter what the score is. The only thing that we have to do, and this is the message to our offense, we want to play one play at a time. That’s it.
The only thing that matters after that play is over is the next play. That’s the only thing that we can control. And so when you’re in those moments, you have to live in that moment and understand how important that moment is, because you have 10 other people on that field that are counting on you to go out there and be the very best version of you.
So when those situations come up, you don’t fold the tent. You don’t find a way to just decide to say, ‘Hey, this game is over.’ No, continue playing. This is a part of our DNA, this is why we work the way we do. This is why we prep the way we do in the classroom. This is why we do certain things as far as preparing our guys to live in this moment and understand how valuable this moment is. But also too, not taking anything for granted.
Okay. I thought our guys showed a tremendous amount of grit. They showed a tremendous amount of resilience, and you must have that in this industry if you want to be great. I thought they did a great job of that, of showing that and putting it on display last weekend.
What the comeback says about Sam Howell:
You know what, I can’t speak on behalf of everyone else, but I can just say this about Sam. Sam’s a very mature kid. I mean, obviously his dad is a coach and Sam is very honest. He’s very quiet in a sense, but he has a calm demeanor, but he’s confident. So, as we put the game plan together, I want him to have ownership in what we’re doing. And so, if he’s taking ownership, that’s letting him know that he can trust in us that we’re giving him the levity of saying, ‘Hey, you know what I like this particular play at this moment.’ And so that’s how trust and bonds are formulated. That’s how teams are built. And so, we want to make sure that Sam feels comfortable in everything that we’re doing and that’s what it’s about.
Howell’s internal clock and getting it to the right rhythm:
You know we talk about that all the time. Spacing always equates to timing and then on top of that, you know, I don’t think there’s any coach in the league to tell you that, ‘Hey, you gotta get rid of the ball.’ Because that’s probably the number one message that you’re giving all quarterbacks. But on top of that, you want him to have a great feel for what you’re doing. And so, I think more than anything, it’s his opportunity to show, but he’s just gotta develop a feel.
And every time and I’ll continue saying this, every time he’s dropping back, he’s running a play, something that shows up or pops up in that particular time. It’s probably the first time that it has happened to him. And you can see it because sometimes when he’s slightly hesitant, something probably didn’t process the right way and it’s probably a little different for him, so you can see where he’ll pause. Obviously, we talk about being decisive, so if there’s something that throws you off, make sure that alternate plan kicks into your head right away. Let’s not stay with it, you know, let’s make sure that we have the answer.
And so that’s our number one job of making sure and giving him a complete understanding throughout the course of the week. Yes, we have a primary. Yes, we got a secondary. Alright, but if it’s not there, what is the next thing that you can do? And then we gotta continue progressing to that. I thought as the game went along, I thought he did a great job of getting to the third and fourth options.
You know what, I don’t know if it’s just the screens. I thought our guys have been doing a great job of just accepting coaching and trusting in what we do and having faith and belief that they can go out there and do it. I just thought last week they did a great job when called upon. The O-Line did an outstanding job. I thought they did a great job throughout the entire game. But, in order to be a good screen team, your O-Linemen have to be players that can make things happen downfield and I thought they did an outstanding job last week.
Practice vs game situations:
Nah, it doesn’t cause any harm. One thing we always wanna make sure that he’s mindful of is we can always extend the play. Okay. Sam’s a great athletic kid, so when things ain’t right, he has an opportunity to make something happen with his feet. So, we always wanna provide that option for him, and that’s one of those alternate plans that we discuss all the time. So, when things ain’t perfect, what are you gonna do to make it right?
One thing that he has to do, he has to keep his eyes down field. He’s gotta be able to pick up his receivers and locate him. Also, he’s gotta understand exactly what took place in the pocket in order for it to fail. So, if he has that feeling and he’s developing it, okay, but also keeping his eyes down field. Now great things can happen.
And you gotta understand this is, I mean, hell we’re going on Week Three, you know, and so I’m just glad he can take a snap and repeat the plays that we’re giving him. But he’s way past that. But there’s still some things that he has to continue to add to his tool belt and I think he’s doing a great job of that at this particular time.
Daron Payne is out here for stretching. Asked how he was feeling yesterday, Payne said “good.” Payne (ankle) was a DNP on Wednesday.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) September 21, 2023
DB Quan Martin expected to be full go in practice today. No more green penny over his uniform.— John Keim (@john_keim) September 21, 2023
TE Logan Thomas (concussion) was not on the practice field.— John Keim (@john_keim) September 21, 2023