The Commanders have a chance to rectify its 2021 performance against the Buffalo Bills. Once again, it starts with the defensive line and its ability to contain quarterback Josh Allen. In 2021, Washington fell to Buffalo in blowout fashion, losing 43-21, trailing by 29 points with just under six minutes left in the game. Allen had a huge day, throwing for 358 yards and four touchdowns while scoring another touchdown on the ground. While he only rushed for nine yards on the day, his legs caused havoc for a young, undisciplined defensive line by constantly extending plays outside the pocket.
In 2023, Washington still has most of the same defensive linemen they had in that game. Since then, both Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne’s production has risen dramatically, earning contract extensions. Montez Sweat’s stock has continued to grow each year, and he is off to a hot start this year. Chase Young, who missed the season opener against the Cardinals, had one of his most productive games since his rookie season in week two against the Denver Broncos. Lastly, James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill, Wsahington’s top rotational defenders, are growing in their own right as fundamentally sound backups who are now beginning to find ways to get to the quarterback.
While the team, as stated by head coach Ron Rivera, has a big opportunity in front of them hosting Buffalo, the defensive line has just as big of a chance to prove that they can slow down even one of the league’s best young NFL quarterbacks. Against Denver, the Commanders were able to pressure Russell Wilson over 20 times. Additionally, Washington is top five in pressure rate, sack rate, and tied for first in sacks after two weeks.
What do you think? Can Washington’s defensive line stand up against Josh Allen and company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Check out the Trap or Dive podcast as Dre and I preview the Bills-Commanders game with Lynnell Willingham of 106.7 The Fan. Follow and subscribe as well to never miss an episode throughout the season.