If the Washington Football Team had one area of clarity heading into the season, it was the surety that their elite defense would wreak havoc among opponents.
With two games under their belt, the defense is falling short of those expectations. While it is still early in the season, Washington’s defense should be showing signs of ascending following a solid playoff campaign in 2020. Instead, they have looked lost and confused at times.
As the first away game approaches on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, now is the time for Washington’s defense to step up. The Bills are coming off a 35-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins where their defense forced three turnovers and executed six sacks.
The Bills have all the momentum and confidence as they gear up to play in front of their home crowd. Buffalo will be a test and there is no room for failure.
Similar to Daniel Jones who had 95 rushing yards in Washington’s Week 2 matchup, Bills quarterback Josh Allen can escape the pocket to keep drives alive. Although off to a shaky start this season, pressuring Allen will be one key to success.
“Well, I think his ability to run is obviously something that we’ve got to be disciplined about,” coach Ron Rivera said. “So the emphasis has been on that, making sure we’re prepared for it. He’s really good at the play fakes which allows for the receivers to get downfield, to get in behind those linebackers. So, you know, we have to be again, disciplined reading our keys and then getting back to where we need to be to force the higher throws.”
In Week 1, Washington forced two turnovers in their matchup with the Chargers. On the other hand, the defense set a not so flattering franchise record by allowing 14 third down conversions. That stat improved in Week 2.
However, they are still only averaging 30.44% on third down efficiency. Additionally, Washington’s defense did not force the Giants to turnover the ball last week and allowed them to rack up 29 points. A win is a win but it wasn’t pretty.
“Obviously, we want to start fast as a group,” stated defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. “We want to help our football team build early momentum. We haven’t got that done the first two weeks, so yeah, that’s clearly a point of emphasis.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about winning games, right?,” Del Rio continued. “And so we need to continue to do all we can to bring that energy, bring that fight and that competitiveness and clean up some of the things that haven’t been quite as good as we expect.”
Despite the issues that Washington’s defense has faced, Chase Young has no doubt that his teammates can answer the call.
“I love that people hold us to a high standard because we hold ourselves to a high standard,” Young said. “But we’re not really paying attention to the noise, obviously. We’re just going to keep working. When we start playing good defense, they’re going to love us again. That’s why we’re not really worried about the outside noise.