ASHBURN, Va. - The Washington Football Team's defensive line is loaded with studs. This we know.
Five first-round picks and despite missing Matt Ioannidis, they should be kicking butt - and they are now, on a consistent basis.
That was the problem earlier in the year: It wasn't consistent.
The defense had eight sacks (seven from the line D-line group) and stopped the run in a season-opening win against Philadelphia, taking advantage of a shredded offensive line and creating the beginning of the end for QB Carson Wentz, who never recovered.
In their next five games, the defense had eight sacks total, were pushed around on the ground and the WFT as a whole gave up 30-plus points in four straight games.
However, the Dallas win before the bye was another dominant effort. They recorded six sacks, they shut down Ezekiel Elliott and they held the miserable Cowboys to three points.
All told? The classic definition of inconsistency. Really good against awful offenses. Against higher-octane attacks, good at times but nowhere near good enough.
As 5-7 WFT readies for Sunday's Week 14 meeting against the Niners at Arizona, something's changed.
Since the bye, Washington has allowed 95 points over five games (19 per). The unit led by the horses up front have allowed 22 second-half points over those five games, an average of 4.4 points per second half.
The group (Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Tim Settle and Ryan Kerrigan) have been able to make up for the loss of Matt Ioannidis (torn bicep) and Caleb Brantley (opt-out/COVID).
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Washington has allowed just 151 rushing yards over their three-game wining streak and make no mistake about it - this is largely responsible for the success.
If teams can't run on Washington as they did over the first half of the season, they become one-dimensional and the defensive line can pin their ears back to get after the opposing signal-caller.
Notice the second snap for Allen in the above clip. That's a three-man rush from a standing/roving position for Allen and he gets to Roethlisberger
Monday night in Pittsburgh, The Steelers had a 14-0 lead until the final play of the first half and 14-3 at the break.
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Washington's front started generating more heat on Roethlisberger without having to blitz much. Why? Because they're talented and deep, yes, but more importantly, Pittsburgh fell right into the trap so many teams in today's NFL do.
With an 11-point halftime lead and Washington without one of their best offensive players (Antonio Gibson), Pittsburgh chose to ignore common sense and only ran the ball four times in the final half.
That's a gift to Washington and an invitation to coordinator Jack Del Rio to get after Big Ben. When they couldn't get home, they put their hands up and knocked passes down or distorted vision and throwing lanes.
This was the icing on the cake and the second week in a row that Sweat swatted one up in the air for a turnover. And it's part of the new definition of what the WFT is upfront: Studs. Like they're supposed to be.