- The Washington Football Team has struggled defensively early in 2021
- WFT has a brutal schedule the rest of the way
- Chase Young isn’t worried
Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the Washington Football Team was oozing with confidence about how great their defense could be. Well, they have done little to actually back up their words. Instead, they’ve had their weaknesses exposed. They, along with the media, dubbed themselves elite without proving it first. Now, that tag is no more.
The Washington Football Team finished 2020 with a top 5 defense
The Washington Football Team mustered up a 7-9 record in the 2020 season, behind the strength of its defense. The NFC East was the worst division in football, and Washington feasted on the mediocre competition.
The strength of Washington’s defense was undoubtedly the front seven, particularly on the defensive line. The front line made a case to be considered the best in all of football, led by four former first-round draft picks.
Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne wreaked havoc all season long, making life difficult for offensive linemen across the league. The quartet combined for 206 tackles, 21.5 sacks, and 54 quarterback pressures.
The defense’s strong play helped propel the Washington Football Team to a division title and its first playoff appearance since 2015.
The defense has not played at an elite level in 2021
Considering their dominant 2020 campaign, it wasn’t far-fetched to say they could replicate their performance. Many people thought they could even take things to another level in 2021.
Chase Young made good on the No. 2 overall draft pick Washington spent on him in the 2020 NFL Draft. He recorded 7.5 sacks and forced four fumbles en route to winning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
The team was able to keep the front seven intact in the offseason. It seemed to improve after selecting Kentucky’s Jamin Davis in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Through the first three weeks of 2021, this defense has struggled. Washington has started slow, and it’s been a trickle-down effect to the outcome of those contests. The unit has given up an opening touchdown drive to each of their first three opponents. The 0-3 New York Giants put up 29 points against them.
The Washington Football Team’s defense has been unable to get off the field. The Los Angeles Chargers converted an astounding 73.7% of their third-down attempts. The Buffalo Bills converted 60% of their attempts.
The Bills torched WFT to the tune of 481 yards and 43 points. Josh Allen threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The defense did not register any sacks or force any turnovers.
Young chimed in on the criticism the defense received. “I love that people hold us to a high standard, because we hold ourselves to a high standard,” he said per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Washington Football Team will face stiff tests the rest of the season
Washington doesn’t have time to lick its wounds. Based on their performance, the defense is going to be tested week in and week out.
WFT travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 4. Then, they will have to endure an absolutely brutal three-game stretch. This defense will have its hands full with the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers.
The 2021 schedule also features Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, and the surprising Las Vegas Raiders. Not to mention, they must try to slow down the high-powered Dallas Cowboys offense twice.
The Washington Football Team has to improve in every facet. Cornerbacks William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller have given up big plays, but they’re better than they have shown thus far. Chase Young has yet to record a sack in 2021, which will need to change as soon as possible.
“I ain’t frustrated. I feel good running around out there,” Young told The Athletic. Well, now it’s time to show up.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.