By Adam Aniba
Linebacker Cody Barton was signed to a 1-year $3.5M contract this offseason to be Washington's starting MIKE linebacker, but thus far he's been a disappointment. In fact, he seems better suited to play special teams.
Although the former Seahawks linebacker has played in every defensive snap this season, he's only registered 37 tak (22 solo). What stands out though is the zeros across the board for every other defensive statistic thru 4 games.
Baldinger's clip below is just a glimpse into what fans have seen from Barton this season.
Although the Commanders put little emphasis this offseason on making upgrades at linebacker, they do have an in house option that should be given an opportunity.
FIfth year veteran Khaleke Hudson came into the league as a hybrid LB/S and played the "Viper" role while at Michigan. The Wolverine Viper is tasked with defending the run, dropping back in coverage and rusingh the passer.
Hudson's role has mostly been on special teams, but has had 4 starts at weakside linebacker. Although Hudson is significantly smaller than the 6'2" 237 lbs. Barton, the former Wolverine is significantly more athletic and better in coverage.
It might be a stretch for Hudson to spend significant time at middle linebacker, but supplanting Barton on 3rd and long/obvious passing situations should be considered. Barton is frequently out of position, when tasked with shadowing tight ends and oftentimes just looks two steps behind.
The defense has given up a ton of yards through 4 games and the coverage unit could certainly use a boost. In fact, the Commanders have been giving up an average of 30 points per game and 352.5 total yards per game. Del Rio's 39.6% efficiency on 3rd down also stands out.
After the signing of Barton, it was believed linebacker Jamin Davis would still get the majority of reps of the linebacking group, particularly on passing downs. That has not been the case thus far,
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio doesn't need to reinvent the wheel this season, but he does need to consider tweaking to the defense and utilizing Hudson's ability in pass coverage would be a step in the right direction.