4 Commanders on the hot seat entering Week 9 at Patriots

Daron Payne
Daron Payne / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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Daron Payne - Commanders DT

Sensing a recurring theme this week?

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Washington Commanders could be light of consistent pass-rushing options on the defensive front. Trading two players with 11.5 sacks combined in 2023 will do that, but all hope is not lost if others step up to the plate.

While there is some optimism that the likes of James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, and Efe Obada can perform well with more reps, the Commanders must get more from their defensive tackle duo. After Daron Payne got a substantial contract extension to prevent him from leaving in free agency, everyone associated with the franchise has a right to expect more.

Payne has yet to reach the heights anticipated following his breakout season in 2022. That cannot continue - especially from a pass-rushing standpoint without a prolific option on the edge.

The former first-round pick out of Alabama has the physical tools to overwhelm the opposition, but it's been a year of slight regression up to now. Payne hasn't recorded a sack since Week 2, which is a major concern and unacceptable considering he's now getting paid like one of the league's premier interior defensive linemen.

If there was ever a time for Payne to put everything together, this weekend would be it. The added motivation is there for all to see.