The Washington Commanders are 1-0, but they have a lot of things to remedy before Sunday’s clash against the Detroit Lions. Perhaps the biggest negative from the victory over Jacksonville was the performance of Jack Del Rio’s defense, specifically the performances of corners Kendall Fuller and William Jackson and linebackers Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis.
While all four players received criticism on social media for their performance, Davis was oddly the only one who drew the ire of the coaching staff.
While recapping Sunday’s win and previewing the Lions matchup, Del Rio put the second-year linebacker on blast for his “so-so” showing.
It’s not often you see a coach single out one player, especially when his running mate, Holcomb, was just as ineffective, and Fuller and Jackson combined for three penalties and allowed multiple long receptions in coverage. That, in turn, begs the question of whether Del Rio’s (public) message for Davis was warranted.
Jack Del Rio puts Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis on blast for his Week 1 performance.
Before we answer, here are Del Rio’s full quotes on Davis.
"“Jamin was just OK in the game,” Del Rio told reporters Thursday. “I think he practiced better throughout the offseason. It was just a so-so performance. I think he’ll do better as the year goes on.”“I said plenty,” Del Rio said in regard to what Davis needed to improve on. “I mean, he’s got to play better. He didn’t play very well last week. I know he expects to play better. He’ll be challenged to play better.“I saw a lot of good things this offseason and it kind of surprised me he didn’t play better. He’s worked really hard. I think he prepared to play better than he did in the opener. We expect him to play better.”"
On one hand, Davis could’ve performed better. The Jaguars targeted him on passing downs and they largely found success. Running back Travis Etienne burned Davis on a simple wheel route in the red zone for what should’ve been a touchdown had Trevor Lawrence not airmailed the throw. Later in the game, Davis appeared to blow an assignment that saw Etienne wiggle free up the seam for a big gain.
The first play was inexcusable. While not an ideal matchup, you expect an athlete of Davis’ caliber to not get beat by 10-plus yards there. On the second play, it looked as though Davis didn’t know whether to break toward the sideline or stick with Etienne. By the time he made up his mind, Lawrence diagnosed the blown coverage.
So yes, Davis has to play batter and Del Rio wasn’t overly draconian for gaslighting last year’s first-round pick, for lack of a better term.
On the other hand, though, it’s on Del Rio and the rest of the coaching staff to put Davis in positions to succeed. That wasn’t the case Sunday.
Again, you expect him to at least put up a fight against Etienne, but there’s no explanation for Davis being isolated on Christian Kirk. And it didn’t happen just once. You’ll be surprised to hear those matchups favored the Jaguars.
When you take that into consideration, you can understand if Davis got annoyed hearing his coordinator chastise him on a public platform. Perhaps it’s Del Rio’s form of tough love and motivation, but maybe don’t be so openly critical of a player’s performance after you set him up to fail to begin with?
Davis needs to play better, but he also needs to be used better by his head coach and defensive coordinator … who are former linebackers!
Plain and simple.