By Adam Aniba
Washington came into Sunday's game in Atlanta needing a bounce back performance, after giving up 40 points to Chicago and surrendering 30+ points during the previous 3 games.
The primary goal against the Falcons was to limit the effectiveness of rookie running back Bijan Robinson. They succeeded and held the former Longhorn to 13 carriers for only 37 yards on the ground.
ESPN's John Keim discussed how encouraged he was by the defenses performance in Atlanta on his latest podcast episode.
"This was across the board the best, most consistent effort from the front line group against the run."
Per True Media stats and Info, over the last two weeks Chase Young has 16 pass rush wins (the most in the NFL the last 2 games).
Defensive tackle Daron Payne also made his presence felt. Fellow defensive tackle John Ridgeway III also got valuable snaps and was apart of the front line that bottled up the Falcons run game.
During the 10/16 presser ESPN's John Keim asked HC Ron Rivera about the upside of utilizing the "cinco package" (5-man defensive front).
"Similar to the 3-4. It allows us to bring in a bigger body. GIves us a stout presence to stop the run."
Washington utilized a 5-man front 27 times (83 total defensive snaps) vs Atlanta). This front provides lanes for linebackers to seal the run.
Linebackers Jamin Davis and Cody Barton who have struggled this season, had their best game of the season. Davis in particular balled out with a sack, but also had a game sealing interception with 00:31 left in the 4th quarter.
Their red zone defense thrived in the 4th quarter with linebacker Khaleke Hudson making multiple big time plays, which featured a key 2-point conversion stop with Washington up 24-16 with just over 12:00 minutes left in the game.
On Atalanta's next possession, Falcons QB Desmond Ridder was intercepted by Benjamin St-Juste (first career int) in the redzone on 3rd and goal from the Commanders 7.
After Montez Sweet left the game with a presumed thumb sprain, reserve Casey Toohill entered and shined. He recorded a tackle for loss and 2.0 sacks (single-game career-high).
The Commanders defense wrapped up the day with 3 interceptions and recorded 3.0 sacks. Del Rio's defense has now recorded 3 or more sacks in five out of six games to start a season for the 4th time in franchise history ('66, '66 & '65).
Washington can't utilize the 5-man front every week, but will be facing another game changing RB in Giants Sanquan Barkley. The last time Washington faced the Giants in New York, they utilized the cinco package 10 times.
Although the Commanders are 3-3, their performance on the defensive side of the ball particularly in the second half, should have fans encouraged about their potential with 11 games remaining.