Washington Football Team: What to make of Jamin Davis’ lack of playing time

Washington LB Jamin Davis (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Washington LB Jamin Davis (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

True fans would never root for an injury, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t notice some relief amongst Washington diehards after it was reported that Jon Bostic would miss the rest of the season with a pec injury.

We totally understand where those fans are coming from. Bostic was admittedly not offering enough in the middle of the defense. Furthermore, fans surmised his injury would open the door for Jamin Davis to get more reps.

Entering Week 5 against the Saints, Davis was playing a respectable 47.5% of the defensive snaps this season. Not terrible, but also a far cry from what fans expected when he was drafted No. 19 overall in April.

We were hopeful that tally would climb as high as 60% or even 70%. On Sunday, though, Davis logged his lowest snap share of the campaign, playing just 13 (!) of a possible 56 snaps.

Fans are outraged, and rightly so, but let’s try to make sense out of Davis’ lack of playing time … if that’s even possible.

Why did Washington LB Jamin Davis barely see the field in Week 5?

There’s A LOT of angles to attack this from, and we’re gonna get to them all, don’t you worry. To start, though, Washington altered its defensive scheme without Bostic. So much so, in fact, that they didn’t play a single snap of its base defense with three true linebackers. Instead, we saw Landon Collins and Kam Curl drop in the box. There was also a lot of 5 defensive linemen personnel.

Those adjustments clearly didn’t work, as New Orleans racked up 33 points of offense despite having control of the ball for just 23 minutes and 34 seconds, compared to Washington’s superior 36 minutes and 26 seconds.

So, why did Ron Rivera, Jack Del Rio and the rest of the coaching staff seemingly scheme to phase Davis out of the game plan?

In our eyes, it’s actually pretty simple. Davis was always drafted as a long-term project than an immediate contributor. We’re talking about a player who started one year in college at Kentucky. Yes, he dominated in the SEC. 102 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three INTs (one returned for a TD) as a junior is nothing to sniff at.

However, very few players make the jump from a one-year starter in college to becoming an every-down LB as a rookie.

Think about it. Darius Leonard was a four-year star at South Carolina State before he was drafted by the Colts. Fred Warner played 48 games at BYU before he entered the draft. They started 15 and 16 games as rookies in 2018, respectively, and are now the two highest-paid LBs in the league.

Most linebackers need experience. Rookie phenoms like Micah Parsons and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are outliers. The bottom line is that the front office fumbled the bag in free agency. The concept of grooming Davis this season while signing one-year stopgaps to fill in is a philosophy we can get behind.

That’s precisely why we advocated for Washington to sign guys like KJ Wright, Anthony Walker or Christian Kirksey. Instead, the front office decided to stick with Bostic, Cole Holcomb, Davis and a bunch of practice squad stashes.

OK, maybe Washington didn’t love the free agent pool. It was definitely slim pickings. So why not double dip at LB in the draft? There were plenty of second-round and Day 3 prospects ready to make an instant impact.

You also have to remember that everyone — and we mean EVERYONE — thought the secondary would be strong enough to make up for the shortcomings at linebacker. The obviously hasn’t been the case.

Don’t blame Davis for being thrust into an adverse situation. From a physical standpoint, he has all the tools to be an outstanding linebacker. It just might take him a year to get acclimated to the NFL before he’s ready to be an impact player.

Don’t get it twisted. This is a front office issue more than anything else.