A former NFL wide receiver turned analyst laid down the gauntlet to Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young ahead of the 2023 season.
One doesn't have to look far for opinions regarding Chase Young across the regional or national media. The defensive end is under more scrutiny than most non-quarterbacks next season, with the Washington Commanders banking on a bounce-back campaign from the player with so much at stake for many across the franchise as Josh Harris' ownership group gets set to take charge in the coming days.
Young was tabbed as the next great pass-rushing phenom coming out of college. Winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year over Jeremy Chinn in 2020 did nothing to dispel this notion, but a series of injuries and poor performances have thrown his aspirations into significant doubt over the last two seasons.
Much has been made about the Commanders declining Young's fifth-year option, making him a pending free agent in 2024 alongside fellow defensive end starter Montez Sweat. It's a motivational method that's paid off for Ron Rivera recently with Daron Payne, but this situation could get a lot murkier if both players reach expectations.
This all centers on health for the Ohio State product. The talent is evident, it's staying on the field that remains Young's biggest complication.
Former wide receiver challenges Commanders DE Chase Young
When speaking about which players are under the most pressure in 2023, former wide receiver turned analyst James Jones laid down the gauntlet to Young in no uncertain terms on FOX Sports 1 show Speak via Sports Illustrated. And if there was ever a time for the defensive end to show the world what he's truly capable of, it's now.
"You have a Pro Bowl as a rookie, and then you just went missing. We know you coming off an injury, we did not pick up your fifth-year option. It is time to go. Show the world that you are that dude. Chase Young, the pressure is on you to say that you are one of the premier pass rushers and defensive players in this league."- James Jones via Sports Illustrated
Young looked explosive enough during early workouts when he turned up for mandatory sessions. He's been working alongside Sweat throughout the break and was also spotted honing skills with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry last week in readiness for camp.
The dreaded draft bust label is looming large for Young unless things improve in 2023. All hope is not lost just yet, but it will be hard for the Commanders to justify an extension without the numbers or the player putting a consistent run of games together.
For now, fans remain cautiously optimistic that Young can put all his recent bad fortune behind him and become the player many envisaged when the Commanders took him at No. 2 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Anything less is going to come with grave implications and might even see Washington become more receptive to trade offers before the mid-season deadline.
There's no doubt Young is walking a proverbial career tightrope where nothing but high standards and strong character will do. He'll be hearing all the concerns, doubts, challenges, and everything in between, so how the edge presence responds will likely prove the difference between success and failure.