In order for the Washington Football Team to have a chance at upsetting the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, its defensive front needed to show up.
They didn't. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen wasn't sacked once, as the Bills star accounted for five touchdowns while leading his club to a 43-21 victory over Washington in Orchard Park.
Three weeks into the 2021 NFL season, Washington's defense hasn't met the sky-high preseason expectations. Pass rusher Chase Young believes that in order for that to change, players will need to start taking accountability.
"As a defense, we've got to look ourselves in the mirror and go back to the drawing board," Young said. "Just got to keep holding each other accountable. I think [there are] still mistakes here and there, still things we need to clean up."
In two of Washington's first three games, they've allowed opposing quarterbacks to top 330 passing yards. As a whole, the defense is allowing over 400 yards per game, a drastic increase from 2020 when Jack Del Rio's unit was one of the best in that category.
The most obvious issue for Washington's defense on Sunday was its lack of a pass rush. With Washington unable to get to Allen, the Bills fourth-year QB was able to extend plays and take advantage of blown coverages on the backend of the defense.
Young, who has yet to record a sack this season, said postgame he's not frustrated in that aspect but knows the defense has to play better as a whole across the board.
"I feel like defense is a tightrope. We all play off each other and I feel like we're just not doing that right now," Young said. "We've just got to play together and we're not doing that right now. The d-line, we're not the only people on the field. It's the linebackers, the [defensive backs]. So we all have to play as one."
Cornerback Kendall Fuller largely echoed Young's thoughts postgame, too.
"We just weren't executing. [Allen] definitely made some plays for sure," Fuller said. "We have to work together all 11 on the field and figure out how to make plays."
Two other areas Washington's defense has struggled with are starting fast and getting off the field on third downs. Both were issues on Sunday, as the Bills converted a third-and-15 on their first offensive possession, a drive that resulted in a 29-yard Emmanuel Sanders touchdown.
Washington's defense struggled on third downs throughout the day, as Buffalo was able to convert nine of their 15 tries on the crucial down.
"If you can get off the field on third down, you give yourself a chance to win," Fuller said. "That's an area where you can bail yourself out. So we've got to get better at that."
Through the first three weeks, Washington's defense has been significantly underwhelming across the board. But as the criticism continues to grow by the week, Young promises his group is going to do whatever it can to turn things around.
"One thing we're not going to do is stop. That's one thing we're not going to do," Young said. "Right now we're not playing our best football, but we're going to keep going."