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Washington on Stage: Too Many Guys Playing Off-Script?

Accountability and simplification may be the key to righting the ship for Washington

It feels like the sky is falling when you look at the Washington Football Team. 

In record, performance, and in outside reactions from fans and media, there isn’t a lot going right for the team hyped up to prevent the Dallas Cowboys from riding back to the top of the NFC East in 2021. 

READ MORE: Takeaways from Week 3 WFT Loss

The 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young is off to a horrid start in the stat box. ... Zero sacks through three games and the defensive end is the sixth rated defender on the WFT defense, according to Pro Football Focus

To make matters worse, there are not one, but two edge defenders ahead of him according to PFF. Montez Sweat, the one everyone would assume, and Casey Toohill, who has nearly 200 fewer snaps and one fewer hit on the quarterback, than Young with two.

Everyone wants to know what’s wrong with Young. But the question is mostly about the team, not the individual. While each makes up the sum of all parts, there is a mixed bag of performance flaws happening, making things particularly complicated for the Washington coaching staff up to this point. 

“Some of us are playing cautious,” head coach Ron Rivera told media on Monday when asked to evaluate the team through three game. “We don’t want to make mistakes, so we allow things to happen in front of us. I think some of us are trying too hard to make something happen and that’s costing us…it’s really just do your job, put yourself in position.”

Rivera went on to echo something media has heard from him before, so you know the players have heard it plenty, saying, “The play doesn’t care who makes it…”

It’s simple, but really, it’s genius. 

And it’s true. The play doesn’t care if an All-Pro defender is making it, or if it’s a sixth-round rookie. All that needs to happen is, the play needs to be made. 

In order for that to happen, each member of the defense, offense, and special teams, has to do their job and rely on the man next to them to do his. 

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This is something which hasn’t been happening in large doses to start the season, it would appear.

And when it doesn’t happen, it causes missed assignments, which often lead to big plays for the opponent. 

“You see it now sometimes when they’re pressing and they want to make a play,” Rivera said. “You don’t want to fault the guy for trying, but you also want to make sure they understand just how important it is to do your job and be accountable.”

Accountability is something every team needs, and rarely has enough of. Even the winning ones. 

Going back to Young, the defensive captain caught some attention himself when he was seen yelling at Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. 

READ MORE: Who to Blame for Slow Start in Washington

Asked about it after the game, John Keim shared that Young told Del Rio if someone was - let’s say - not giving their all, then he wasn’t, “having it”. You can see the real quote, with the NSFW language included, here.

Each man doing their job isn’t a new idea in the NFL, but it’s one which has proven to be successful over the years. 

Reinforcing the need to do so is important, and accountability from the coaches and team leaders is as well. 

After two disappointing losses and three subpar performances, the sky isn’t quite collapsing on the Washington Football Team season. But the time for chunks of ozone to start falling isn’t too far off. And a big clunk of cloud may land on the WFT this weekend, if they fall to the Atlanta Falcons, who also sit at 1-2 and had much lower expectations entering the season.