Commanders DL has perfect plan to stay motivated amid dominant 2022
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders’ defense came back down to earth in Week 12, but fans aren’t ready to admit a slump is coming. The Falcons flaunt one of the league’s premier rushing attacks, and the defense had built up so much equity over the previous six games that one subpar performance isn’t the end of the world.
Despite a slow start, Washington’s vaunted defensive line came alive at the perfect time in the second half, blowing up multiple running plays in the backfield and even getting home on Marcus Mariota for the first time in the fourth quarter.
You could argue the blowout win in Houston served as a tease. The Texans offense is an atrocity. Of course Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne — the hero from Sunday’s win — Montez Sweat were going to eat. Despite their talent, no defensive line is capable of keeping up a pace of five sacks and nine quarterback hits.
In a perfect world, all three of Allen, Payne and Sweat would make the Pro Bowl. That’s unlikely to happen given fans drive voting. As of Monday evening, Allen and Payne ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, for votes at their positions.
You might think the star trio doesn’t care about who finishes with the better statistics, but that’s anything but the case.
As Payne told Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, the defensive linemen are “in a competition” and keeping track of their individual numbers.
Commanders DL Jon Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat are in a competition to finish with the best stats.
What better way to stay motivated amid a dominant season that setting a competition? Genius idea. And when you realize how neck-and-neck their numbers are, you can understand why the trio is obsessed with finishing on top.
- Allen: 14 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, 43 pressures, 33 run stops
- Payne: 13 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, 33 pressures, 32 run stops
- Sweat: 11 TFLs, 7.0 sacks, 24 QB hits, 48 pressures, 26 run stops
Look at those numbers and tell me all three players don’t deserve to be in the Pro Bowl. It’s impossible. The only problem is there’s only so many spots open, and the Vikings and Eagles currently have the first and fifth-most votes of any team, including the AFC, after the initial wave of voting.
There’s still time for Commanders fans to make up the ground, but Allen, Payne and Sweat will just continue dominating in the meantime.
It might be difficult for them to keep producing at a superstar rate if they continue seeing double teams (triple teams in Allen’s case vs the Falcons), but you can count on this “competition” going right down to the wire. Entering Week 13, quarterback hits is the only stat that might already be wrapped up with Sweat separating himself from his teammates.
As far as tackles for loss, sacks, pressures, run stops and even hurries are concerned, though, it’s anyone’s guess who will finish on top.