Football Team

How failing against Murray could help Washington handle Jackson

Football Team

Early last week, Ron Rivera revealed that he and Jack Del Rio had a conversation following Washington's loss in Arizona where both coaches agreed that the team's defense played tentatively. So, on the Thursday before the franchise's trip to Cleveland, Del Rio was asked how to get his group back into the aggressive style it displayed in the 2020 season opener.

"Not face Kyler Murray," Del Rio responded.

It was a well-delivered, funny answer, and it certainly held some truth. Murray's dual-threat ability can really freeze a defense, particularly the pass rushers, which the coordinator pointed out.

The problem is, Washington — reeling from a loss to the Browns that's now stacked on top of the one to the Cardinals — is set to square off with Lamar Jackson this Sunday.

In other words, they're set to square off with maybe the only person in the NFL who can do what Murray does better than Murray.

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"This guy is tremendously talented," Del Rio said of Jackson on Wednesday during a post-practice Zoom. "He has a great arm. He's a threat to run or throw it. And he has a tremendous supporting cast around him."

The early October tilt will be the first time that the Burgundy and Gold take on the 23-year-old, and they may be getting a very inspired version of him.

In the Ravens' recent, primetime loss to the Chiefs, Jackson was extremely quiet as a passer and failed to exceed 100 yards. He rushed for 83 on the ground, a number that shouldn't be dismissed, yet overall, it was a disappointing showing for the reigning MVP in what was an incredibly-hyped meeting with Patrick Mahomes.

 

In an effort to ensure Jackson isn't able to find his rhythm again at FedEx Field, Del Rio will in part rely on what his guys experienced and did versus Murray. Their first test at limiting an electric QB didn't go well, but hopefully, it can help them be more stout in their second go-round.

"It’s great tape to teach off of and learn from, and that’s really the way we approach it," Del Rio said about the film from the Arizona trip.

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One area Del Rio wants to see cleaned up is the way his players pursue Jackson. As already mentioned, Washington's front was a bit hesitant versus Murray when they had the opportunity to corral him.

There's a fine balance to strike when dealing with the Murrays and Jacksons of the world; yes, it's a must to keep contain, but defenders can't let that goal prevent them from attacking at full speed when necessary.

"We weren’t cutting loose," Del Rio said when reflecting on battling the Cardinals star. "We’ll have a plan. Hopefully we execute it a little bit better."

Honestly, Washington will have to execute their plan a lot better to hang with the Ravens, and perhaps perfect it to secure a victory. Fortunately, they aren't entering this matchup cold. Let's see if their poor Week 2 can lead to a more successful Week 4.