Every team hopes to start fast in the new season, and the Washington Football Team isn't the only one disappointed at 2-2. Look across the league and you'll find teams with just one loss through the first quarter of 2021 that feel they've yet to play their best football.
The good news is, every week is another chance to get better. And a defense like the WFT's could awaken at any moment. Something not lost on New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
"If you look at their defense you would say that it is a very good front," Payton told media on Wednesday when asked about this weekend's matchup. "A group that can rush the passer. They are extremely athletic. Obviously, a lot has been invested in that group with first-round picks. So you have to be on point with your protection plan."
The message of staying ready to combat the likes of Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Chase Young and Daron Payne is a smart one.
Granted, Young and Payne have yet to tally sacks this NFL season. But let a team come in without a game plan to stop them from getting one, and it could be a bad day for that team's quarterback.
In a week where countering the other coach could be even more important than most games, Rivera knows teams are doing things to combat Young's abilities.
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"When I look at some of the things that (Young) has done and look at how people react to him and how people have basically slowed him down, there's an impact there still," Rivera said. "I think that's the one thing that we just have to be smart about."
Saints quarterback Jameis Winston has done a lot of things in his NFL career, including a record-setting season as the first passer in league history to throw 30 or more touchdowns and interceptions.
Earning a reputation as turnover-prone has been easy. Breaking it, won't be. But Payton's coaching has seemed to have had an impact as Winston started the 2021 season with eight touchdown passes to just two interceptions.
If the quarterback echoes his coach's respect for the struggling, but talented, Washington Football Team defense, then the responsibility for finding ways to get to the quarterback will rest with Rivera's group.
As much criticism as the WFT defense has taken, judging by the comments here, their next opponent isn't cutting any corners in their strategy to prevent their awakening.