3. The Reality Is, Jack Del Rio is pushing (mostly) the wrong buttons.
Last week, I pointed out how both coordinators needed to step up their games after abysmal performances against the LA Chargers. In my opinion, Scott Turner did just that, building a gameplan that got the most out of Terry McLaurin and Taylor Heinicke, while getting solid production out of Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, JD McKissic and Adam Humphries. Even Dyami Brown and Ricky Seals-Jones made significant contributions.
But, if anything, I thought the defensive coaching staff had a worse game in Week 2 than they had in Week one.
First of all, Del Rio is treating Chase Young like he’s a polished 1v1 pass rush specialist. He’s not that. The scheme should have him moving around, utilizing his athleticism to find mismatches, much like Turner did with McKissic last week. Clearly, on some plays, he’s freelancing and not playing assignment football, but there are plenty of ways the coaching staff could be more creatively utilizing him.
More stunts and loops, more reps against interior linemen where he can get his hands up if he doesn’t get home, and more opportunities to rush on the same side as Montez Sweat would give him more opportunities to win with his athleticism as he continues to work on his pass-rush repertoire.
In addition to misusing his most scary asset, Del Rio has presided over very vanilla and mistake-prone unit overall. Landon Collins lost Daniel Jones on a read option. So did James Smith-Williams. Bostic’s inability to cover in space keeps getting exposed, Cole Holcomb looks a step slower than last year. Daron Payne hasn’t popped.
And all of that on top of the issues at corner. Honestly, the entire defense has appeared out of sync, and it makes me suspect that Del Rio is struggling to find the right combinations of players and play-calls early this season. The defense looks like a unit not quite comfortable in their roles, thinking too much about how to do their jobs, rather than playing football. And I put that on their coach. He’s got to find a way to get them comfortable and confident. Hopefully he can start pushing the right buttons this week in Buffalo.
Prediction: Gradual and slight progress. The defense won’t dominate Buffalo, but there will be some glimmers of improvement. Chase Young will have a more productive game, the defensive line will show signs of gel-ing, and there will be less rumbling among fans about the defense next week.