Jackass, I mean Jack Del Rio’s latest bout of idiocy was provoked by actually coaching football. That’s instead of shooting his mouth off about minimizing an insurrection.
The Commanders’ defensive coordinator was brought to Washington by defense-minded head coach Ron Rivera to help sculpt and better the young defensive gems the team had spent the last several years drafting. The franchise hasn’t been able to gain momentum with a consistent starting quarterback for 30 years, so why not build around a defense and hope you score enough points to win a title?
It’s a bold strategy, but at least the team had a direction.
Yes, we’re two weeks into the NFL season and the Commanders are 1-1. They’ve played the Jaguars and Lions, two of the league’s surprise teams to start the season. Washington’s defense is also clearly not up for the task of stopping a basic NFL offense. Over the last several months, let’s look at the ways Del Rio has improved the Commanders defense! Still looking? Might be awhile if not forever. He’s not cutting it in Washington and if the team’s struggles continue, he’ll be yeeted from Dan Snyder’s organization first. Which would say alot.
I’d argue Rivera isn’t on the hot seat himself yet. The development of Carson Wentz isn’t his burden, yet, as he’s done enough in both games to win. Wentz’s mistakes clearly didn’t come from the sidelines in either game. He looked like Peyton Manning and then Ryan Leaf, at times. You never know what’s coming next! That’s the opposite end of the spectrum for Del Rio. The scheme and lack of in-game adjustments are piling up and let Detroit run out to a huge lead last week. It’s also how Jacksonville nearly knocked off Washington in Week 1.
The Commanders are near the bottom of the league when it comes to every defensive statistic. In total yards allowed, they’re tied for the sixth-worst with Tennessee and Pittsburgh. Washington is in the bottom half of passing yards and rushing yards allowed respectively. It’s much worse with their ground stoppage, which is fifth-to-last in the NFL. The Commanders are also tied for the fourth-worst in points allowed (58) with the Rams and Falcons. Quite a resume there, Jack.
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Let’s look at individual performances. Who on the Commanders defense has significantly improved from last season? Darrick Forrest? Cole Holcomb? Sure, there are some cases on the back end. With the riches Washington has, it’s nowhere near enough. Chase Young is hurt and should provide a jolt for a struggling unit when he’s back from injury. This is the critical time of Young’s career to prove his “can’t miss” status coming out of Ohio State.
The local kid, who played for The District’s most revered high school, DeMatha Catholic, coming back to help lead what was once a model NFL franchise from the depths of irresponsibility and on-field irrelevancy might never come to fruition. That fallen prophecy would partially be on the shoulders of Young himself. It would also fall to several of Washington’s former and current coaches, none more prominent than the current D.C. in Del Rio.
My NFL trigger finger is much hastier than Washington’s higher-ups has been in recent years. All the way back to the catastrophic Jim Zorn, I believed the franchise moved like molasses to fire coaches. Jay Gruden got too long. As did Mike Shanahan. Now, Del Rio is entering that territory. Should the Commanders not show consistently better form over the next few games, Rivera won’t have a choice. If it’s one of the famed members of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, or his defensive coordinator getting the ax because of bad play, best believe the former Jaguars and Raiders head coach is the one being told happy trails.
What can fix the problems with Washington’s defense besides personnel getting healthy and outright firing the unit’s leader? Let’s start with a scheme that actually fits the current defense and Del Rio not calling out younger players for mistakes that are actually partly his fault. Del Rio’s defenses played above average in 2020 and improved in 2021 before a coronavirus outbreak infected the team late in the year. Now, the Commanders have fallen off and Del Rio should be ousted because of it.