Entering the season, the Washington Football Team's defensive front garnered all the hype. With talented pass rushers and a strong interior, many saw the unit as one of the best in the league.
At times that has been the case, but in Week 9 against the Giants, it was far from it. Specifically, the defense struggled when it came to defending the run. Without Saquon Barkley, Alfred Morris and Wayne Gallman helped gash Washington for 166 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per carry.
It was a glaring hole, one that had former Washington linebacker London Fletcher reaching for the snacks early and often.
“The game against the New York Giants, they got physically overwhelmed in that football game. The Giants rushed for 166 yards. It was disgusting, my blood pressure and my body fat couldn’t take it," Fletcher said on CBS Sports Network. "I was texting you guys like ‘I’m trying to stop stress eating.’”
Now in Week 10, things won't get much easier for the group. Detroit is only No. 24 in the league in rushing, but New York isn't much ahead at No. 21 and clearly they had no problem gaining yards on the ground. The Lions not only feature an emerging runner in D'Andre Swift but also future Hall of Famer and former Washington running back Adrian Peterson.
The 14-year pro is still producing, and he considers Sunday a chance to show Washington what they're missing after the team cut him prior to the season.
Fletcher sees that as a major shot at the Washington defense, and for one group in particular, a challenge they need to accept.
“You have to take that personality if you’re a linebacker for Washington," Fletcher said.
While performance against the run will largely be linked to the play of the defensive line, Washington's linebackers are not free from blame. Head coach Ron Rivera even saw their latest showing as concerning, viewing their tendencies as rather hesitant.
In Week 10, that has to change. Personal vendettas aside, Washington has a football game to win as it tries to remain in the hunt for the NFC East title. Stopping the run is needed to make that happen, and Fletcher is hoping that the defensive unit's upcoming performance will allow him to avoid the pantry as he watches.
Come downhill, play with some physicality, get off blacks, stop the run, support your quarterback, get some turnovers and win the game," Fletcher said. "Let’s go.”