Jack Del Rio, it’s time to Put up your Dukes

Washington DC Jack Del Rio (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Washington DC Jack Del Rio (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

There has been a lot of blame-shifting for the poor start by the Washington Football Team defense. Everyone deserves a share of the blame, from the secondary to the linebackers, the defensive lineman, and even head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

The defense was supposed to carry this team but has been underwhelming all season. Currently, the defense is 28th in points (27.3 ppg) allowed and 27th in yards allowed (376.4 ypg).

From Weeks 2-6, Washington’s defense under Jack Del Rio allowed 29, 43, 30, 33, and 31 points respectively (33.2 ppg) However, the maligned unit has played better in recent weeks.

In the past three games, the Washington Football Team is allowing an average of 20.0 points per game. In their most recent contest, they held the Buccaneers to 19 points, which was Tampa’s lowest point output so far this season.

Last Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly relieved some pressure off of Jack Del Rio. Although the defense got off to a horrific start, there has been a slight improvement. After producing one of the worst third-down defenses (55.2%) in recent memory, Washington held Tom Brady and Tampa’s offense to 4/10 on third downs. It will be interesting to see if the defense can build on this going forward.

Especially with Montez Sweat and Chase Young being out for an indefinite period of time.  Washington will also be without defensive end Shaka Toney as he suffered a concussion during Wednesday’s practice.

Good coaches find a way to compensate for injuries, so Del Rio will have to get creative with his defensive fronts. Carolina’s offensive line isn’t great, so more games and stunts may need to be called up front for Washington’s defensive line. Despite the win last week, Brady was held upright all game. However, Jonathan Allen did make his presence known on more than one occasion. He’s been Del Rio’s best and consistent player all season.

We are going to find out how good a defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is with Young and Sweat being out for an indefinite period.

Every player and coach on the Washington Football Team should want to win this game for Ron Rivera. Last year, Washington had an opportunity at home to clinch the NFC East with a win at home versus these same Carolina Panthers. However, with Cam Newton and Rivera’s emotional return, this is Washington’s time to flip the script and play spoiler.

Recently, Jack Del Rio stated that the Washington Football Team is preparing for P.J. Walker and Cam Newton to get snaps. However, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule recently announced that Newton would receive the start versus his former coach.

Jack Del Rio’s unit is tasked with containing Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, and wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore. The pass defense for Washington has been dreadful as they rank 30th in yards per game (279.3).

Del Rio may need to get exotic with his defensive fronts and alignments. With Washington down three pass rushers in Sweat, Young, and Toney, Matt Ioannidis may garner more playing time because of his pass rush ability. The 5-2 look could be implemented more as well to get Ioannidis more playing time.

In addition, the defense has struggled with mobile quarterbacks, and Cam Newton is arguably the most mobile quarterback in history. So Jack Del Rio needs to devise a scheme that takes away Newton in the running game. If not, that will make life much easier for Christian McCaffery.

Last year Del Rio was able to get the most out of unheralded players like Deshazor Everett, Jeremey Reaves, and Tim Settle. He’ll need similar efforts from defensive ends James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, Daniel Wise, Bunmi Rotimi, William Bradley-King, and Shaka Toney once he’s healthy.

Last year with the New England Patriots, Newton accounted for 16 total turnovers. The Washington Football Team will need to create turnovers on defense to have a shot at getting the win. Like Del Rio, I too believe that there’s no way Cam Newton can learn Carolina’s offensive system in a week. As long as the defense can maintain their composure and withstand the initial energy surge from Newton and the Panthers, they should have a realistic shot to win this game.

Next. Can WFT win consecutive games for first time in 2021?. dark