Washington Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen laid down the gauntlet amid the unit's extreme struggles to begin the 2023 campaign.
There is no longer a fear factor surrounding the Washington Commanders' defense. Many expected Jack Del Rio's group to take another leap forward and emerge into one of the league's most dominant forces in 2023, but they seem to be regressing at the worst possible time with Josh Harris' ownership group assessing the entire franchise from top-to-bottom.
Del Rio's unit conceded 104 points in three games prior to their Thursday Night Football outing versus the winless Chicago Bears. It was seen as a get-right scenario by many, but it turned out to be anything but as Justin Fields and D.J. Moore ran riot to the tune of 40 points as the Commanders fell to a third-straight reverse.
Commander DT Jonathan Allen calls for improvement
Some soul-searching and adjustments are needed before the Commanders next take the field in Week 6 at the Atlanta Falcons. And make no mistake, veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Allen laid down the gauntlet to each member of Washington's defense based on comments via the team's website.
"We just played like s--t. We are not a good defense right now. We gotta own that. We gotta take that and we gotta be better. That's what's causing us to lose games right now. Defensively, we just were not executing. We gotta be better. Everybody is talented in the NFL. It doesn't matter how talented you are, it's about how well you play together on any given Sunday. We just gotta play better. I mean we just got to own it man. We gotta take it one step at a time, we're not gonna fix every single problem at once. We're gonna look at this film and we're gonna move on. I think every single player on this defense needs to take a good hard look at themselves and see what they gotta do to improve."- Jonathan Allen via Commanders.com
Allen is one of the best around and his leadership within the locker room is unquestioned at this point. The former first-round pick knows that his own performances must improve, but it's also the Alabama product's job to galvanize others to their usual standards as the Commanders look to get out of their ever-concerning slump.
There's been far too much investment and too much talent for the Commanders' defense for them to be falling like this. Chase Young stated it was the players and not Del Rio's scheme holding them back, but there is an equal amount of blame to go around looking at their full body of work in 2023 to date.
These harsh words from Allen to the media are probably the exact sentiment he echoed in the FedEx Field locker room immediately after such an embarrassing defeat. What's important now is studying the film, examining what went wrong, and making sure their lackluster efforts quickly become a thing of the past.
A few more innovative defensive play calls wouldn't hurt, either.
Whether the coaching staff is capable of such drastic changes remains to be seen. We'll also find out plenty about the defensive resolve in the coming weeks after Allen challenged his teammates in no uncertain terms.
The season isn't a lost cause yet, but the Commanders' hopes are teetering right on the edge. And for once, the quarterback situation is the least of Washington's worries.