How can the Washington Commanders help first-round rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes get out of his concerning slump?
The Washington Commanders are going through some significant complications on defense currently. They've coughed up a whopping 144 points over the last four games, which is a far cry from the once-vaunted unit being tipped to become one of the league's best in 2023.
Jack Del Rio is a man under pressure. Head coach Ron Rivera isn't planning to make any staffing alterations during their mini-bye, but it's clear something is amiss from a schematic standpoint when one considers the talent and investment made in this critical area of play.
There are multiple concerns that must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Among those is the performance level of Emmanuel Forbes - the rookie cornerback who's currently finding out the hard way what it takes to succeed at the next level.
Commanders must build up Emmanuel Forbes' confidence
After getting his welcome to the NFL moment from A.J. Brown at the Philadelphia Eagles, the first-round selection was given a good going over by Chicago Bears wideout D.J. Moore on Thursday Night Football. It was painful to watch at times and eventually resulted in Rivera benching a player whom he almost became infatuated with during pre-draft assessments.
First-year cornerbacks tend to go through more complications than most. Very few thrive right out of the gate like Patrick Surtain II and Sauce Gardner in recent years, so keeping the bigger picture in mind is absolutely essential rather than writing off Forbes after just five games.
When discussing his struggles, Forbes outlined his will to fight via Washington's website. The corner also revealed that he's getting good advice and support from teammates in pursuit of turning things around.
"Honestly just keep going and stay strong. Rookies are gonna have moments like that. Just keep battling and keep going through it. They [teammates] always got my back just like I have theirs. Just telling me to keep going to work every day and just keep getting better."- Emmanuel Forbes via Commanders.com
The Commanders' coaching staff must also do their bit to help Forbes move forward. Just why Del Rio thought in his infinite wisdom putting the Mississippi State product against Moore after what happened at Lincoln Financial Field is anyone's guess, but it's clear he's not ready to cover any legitimate No. 1 option without additional experience.
If that means Kendall Fuller or Benjamin St-Juste - who are both playing at a high level - have to shadow the opposition's best weapon, so be it. But teams will be actively trying to put their star pass-catcher on Forbes given how profitable this method has been over the last fortnight.
Rolling coverage over to Forbes is another option, although that would leave areas exposed. There needs to be a level of trust with the No. 16 overall selection, but the coaching staff must also find the right balance that keeps his development on track but negates the defensive unit of any weak links within their secondary.
Forbes has the talent, there's no getting away from that. But there were always going to be issues in Year 1.
That's the way it unfolds for 99 percent of rookie corners. Forbes is no different - even if fans wanted it to be - but keeping him out of the firing line entirely is simply not an option.
Giving Forbes all the help he needs, altering the way he's utilized, and building confidence back up gradually is the most important element of this equation. Anything less could have a detrimental impact on the player long term.