5 major disappointments from the Commanders' loss vs. Cowboys in Week 18

A disappointing end to a disappointing season.

Washington Commanders fan
Washington Commanders fan / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders zone coverage

To play zone coverage in the NFL, you have to have three things.

You have to have well-coordinated players who work as a unit. You have to have linebackers who take appropriate drops to cover the middle of the field. And you need defensive backs who close fast and make sure tackles.

If you have those three things, the zone can be a very effective defense.

The Washington Commanders currently have none of that.

The coordination has not been there all season. That’s one of the main reasons that defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer was fired. The linebackers have been terrible in coverage all season as well. Nothing new there.

But Sunday, against the Dallas Cowboys, may have been the worst tackling performance I have ever seen from the Commanders' secondary.

To be fair, they were missing their best tackler in Kamren Curl. Percy Butler and Kendall Fuller were also out. Emmanuel Forbes has struggled with tackling all season, and watching him against a dynamic runner like CeeDee Lamb is a huge mismatch.

Terrell Burgess, filling in for Curl, made 10 tackles on the day, but that is largely due to Washington’s inability to stop Dallas' running plays until they reached the secondary. He whiffed on several key plays, most importantly on Tony Pollard’s 12-yard run to set up the go-ahead touchdown just before half-time.

When Brandin Cooks beats backup Sean Chandler on a good move for a touchdown, that’s kind of understandable. But when Rico Dowdle drops a wide-open pass in the flat, and then runs the same pattern one play later for a huge gain - that’s the sign of a secondary that has no coordination, and no clue how to play zone.