Football Team

Marcus Spears: Washington D-Line 'selfish and undisciplined'

Football Team

ESPN analyst Marcus Spears wasn't mincing his words when talking about the subpar defense from Washington's 1-2 start on Wednesday's "NFL Live" show. 

"Let's talk about the D-line play. Two words I'm going to say: selfish and undisciplined," Spears said, pulling up a couple of clips from Washington's 43-21 loss to Buffalo as examples.

"Chase Young is so sack hungry right now he's losing rushes behind the quarterback," Spears said. "This is good interior pressure from Daron Payne. If Chase Young retraces, this is a sack on Josh Allen. Instead, Chase Young wants to get a sack on Josh Allen so bad he gives him a lane, Moss comes in to release and gets a free way to the end zone."

This is the exact sentiment Washington coach Ron Rivera expressed following the Burgundy and Gold's Week 3 defeat. 

"One of the things we saw on tape this past Sunday was that the rush wasn't as coordinated as it needed to be," Rivera said. "We had a couple of instances where Daron [Payne] would win to whichever side he was with the [defensive] end. He'd win, but unfortunately, the end wasn't coordinated with it. They have to have a little more coordination. They have to work a little bit better together and just understanding where each other is going to be."

That lack of communication and coordination allowed Allen to constantly escape away from the defensive pressure, either with the lane given out to the side or stepping up in the pocket. The Bills exploited Washington's lack of cohesiveness for the most points it's allowed in a single game since their loss to Dallas in Week 17 of the 2019-20 season.

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The expectations for the Washington defense, which gave up the second-fewest yards per game and fourth-fewest points per game a season ago, were high during preseason. Not only was Washington bringing back its Defensive Rookie of the Year in Young, but the solid core around him like Payne, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and linebacker Jon Bostic, too. 

"These defensive ends for Washington are the catalysts. They are the guys you'd expect to get after the quarterback," Spears said. "And when you have pressure up the center of the pocket that's supposed to be a sack on the retrace for the defensive ends."

If Young and company can get back to finding the best way for the collective group to get a sack, they'll likely turn their league-leading quarterback hurries (24) through three weeks into more productive end results. Washington is tied sixth for sacks (6). Without the required pressure from up top, Washington's young secondary hasn't kept up with its offensive matchups. 

"They've got to fix the fundamentals and basics. Easy enough to do, but they got to start right now because the secondary is really hurting from because they are undisciplined up front," Spears said.