By Adam Aniba
Washington lost their 3rd game in a row to Chicago last Thursday night, which was an embarrassing 40-20 loss on primetime. The Bears broke a 14 game losing streak, which dated back to the 2022 season.
The loss was the third biggest deficit for the Commanders while DC Jack Del Rio has been in charge of running the defense:
*43 pts - Week 3, 2021 vs Buffalo
*42 pts - Week 16, 2021 vs Dallas
*40 pts - Week 5, 2023 vs Chicago
The Commanders are currently ranked 31st in points allowed per game and rank 25th in yards per game game. in 2022 Washington's defense finished the season 3rd in yards allowed and 7th points allowed. Although there's still 12 regular season games remaining, the 176 points given up in five games isn't encouraging.
Over the last four games, the Commanders have allowed 518 receiving yards and 6 TDs to just 4 WIde Receivers:
*Week 2: Marvin Mims - 2 rec for 113 yds & 1 TD
*Week 3: Stefon Diggs - 8 rec for 111 yds
*Week 4: A.J. Brown - 9 rec for 175 yds & 2 TDs
*Week 5: D.J. Moore - 8 rec for 230 yds & 3 TDs
With six #1 draft picks on defense, compared to only one on offense (Jahan Dotson #16 '22), Del Rio hasn't maximized the units potential and a change at defensive coordinator could add a boast to a group that desperately needs a spark.
When Rivera was asked about possible staff changes, he was adamant in his response.
"No, no we're, what at game 5; we've got 12 left to play. There's plenty of football left."
Seeing the Commanders 1st quarter differentials was certainly eye opening:
*Points: -27 (30th)
*Pass yds: -29 (17th)
*Rush yds: -213 (27th)
*Explosive plays: -7 (30th)
*Sacks: -4 (29th-T)
ESPN's John Keim made a valid point regarding scheme issues with JDR.
"This isn’t and hasn’t been his (Ron Rivera) defensive scheme. But he is the HC. They should be looking at everything. Nothing has worked like it should whether it’s the teaching etc. some mistakes on basic coverages though. Some 101 stuff. Why?"
In House DC Option
Defensive Line Coach Jeff Zgonina is a big reason for the individual growth of the defensive line and should be a serious consideration as an in-house replacement for Del Rio.
Last year it was the ascension of Daron Payne under Coach Z and now Chase Young has been a bright spot on the defense and on par for a career year statistically. His performance vs CHI set a career high with 11 pressures on 29 snaps. It's also the most pressures in a single game by any player this season.
Per PFF Young is currently tied for 4th in the NFL with 27 pressures and ranks 3rd in pressure percentage at 21.9%. He's also has recorded 3 sacks in 5 games.
Even though Young shined for the Commanders defense last Thursday, that's not saying much after the unit gave up 40 points to the Bears.
NFL Insider Josina Anderson had the following to say about the new owners perspective.
"With the Commanders coming off a 40-20 loss to the Bears I'm told as of today, Josh Harris' perspective is to continue to allow things to play out when it comes to potential staff decisions, at this time."
Key phrase in that quote from Josh Harris was "at this time".
Rivera had the following to say to WUSA9, when he was asked about turning the season around and what it could entail.
"Time. That's the truth of the matter. Growth takes time. We'll start to get to a point where you'll see it. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later".
Sounds just like more of the same from Rivera, who continues to point to time and patience needed by fans.
Fact of the matter is Rivera has primarily utilized vets on defense, despite stating patience is needed with his young players. His most experienced coach on the team is Jack Del Rio, but he's the teams biggest issue at the moment with his inability to make in-game adjustments and outdated scheme.
The question now is if Washington's defense has another performance like the one vs Chicago, will the Harris group continue to leave staff decisions in Rivera's hands.
Del Rio is as unimaginative as they come, but has been bailed out at times with some of the talent he has along the defensive line. Unfortunately it seems like his scheme is outdated and predictable to dissect, per comments from players they've faced this season.
It's unlikely that the new ownership will make any major shakeups this month, but changes could be on the horizon if the Commanders stay on their current path.