Commanders defensive game plan
Despite giving up 30 points - the final touchdown was scored by the Buffalo Bills' defense - the Washington Commanders' defense did not lose this game. It’s hard to contain a team with as much firepower when your offense turns the ball over five times. Still, Jack Del Rio's unit did nothing to win the game either.
The most obvious failing came on third down. Early on, the Commanders were stuffing Buffalo on first and second down. But they looked helpless on third. It stemmed from an anemic pass rush. And when they did manage to pressure Josh Allen, he easily scrambled for huge gains.
It is not easy to use a spy on an NFL quarterback. It usually removes a central defender from pass coverage. But Washington’s failure to find some way to contain Allen cost them dearly early on when the outcome was still in doubt.
Cody Barton and Jamin Davis did make a couple of nice plays on Sunday, but for the most part, they were making tackles way too far downfield. If the linebackers are not going to make plays near the line anyway, why not let one of them spy on a mobile quarterback like Allen?
Coverage in the secondary was confusing at times. On Buffalo's first touchdown, Darrick Forest was essentially left alone in the deep left corner with two Bills receivers. He didn't cover either, so Gabe Davis scored an easy touchdown.
Even if Allen had not spotted Davis deep, tight end Dalton Kincaid was running alone about seven yards shorter. This was not the only time the secondary seemed confused. Just the most damaging.
It would be fairly easy to say the single most disappointing aspect of the game was the defensive line's inability to generate pressure. Though I don't let the players off the hook, I think this has a lot to do with the game plan.
On the game's first big play - Allen's 30-yard bomb to Stefon Diggs on the opening drive - you could see how tentative Montez Sweat was in pursuing Allen. The line obviously was made aware of how important it was to contain the quarterback and I suspect that significantly hindered the ferocity of the rush.
Perhaps the security of a spy would have let the linemen play with more freedom.