Following a terrific 2020 season, Chase Young -- and the Washington defense in general -- is off to a slow start in 2021.
The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year has yet to record a sack through two games and simply hasn't been the dominant force he was expected to become in Year 2 with Ron Rivera. And then even though it was a soft penalty, Young roughed the passer to give New York 15 yards and a fresh set of downs.
In an effort to find out what's been missing from Young so far this season, The Sports Junkies asked Rivera if his star pass rusher was putting too much pressure on himself.
"Oh, without a doubt," Rivera said Tuesday. "The kid works so hard. The way he comes to practice, the way he goes through meetings, the way he's on the field. He wants to be explosive, he wants to make things happen and he's really trying. Because of that, I think every now and then he puts himself in a bad position. But I'm not going to fault guys that give you everything they got."
Another aspect of Young's slow start is the attention he's getting from opposing offenses. Everyone knows he's Washington's best defensive player and is fully aware of how quickly he can change a game. So Young is seeing more double teams, chips from tight ends and offensive schemes designed to neutralize his abilities.
What was expected to be one of the best defenses in the NFL hasn't looked like it through two games this season. In Week 1 they couldn't get the Chargers off the field on third down, while a few defensive breakdowns and untimely penalties nearly cost them a win against the Giants in Week 2.
"The other thing to understand is when he's getting doubled, when he's getting chipped, I mean, it's tough," Rivera said. "I get that part, I know how hard it is. I watch some of the really great players struggle through times like this because everybody's got an answer, everybody is doing something [to slow them down]. And when you affect the way people approach you and approach your team, you're an impact player."
However, Rivera still wants to see more from Young and his defense. Of course, the defense started slow last season as well, but that fact hasn't made the start to this year any less disappointing for Washington's head coach.
Moving forward, less could be more for this group.
"I just think we have not played to our ability," Rivera said. "I think right now we have some small issues that are all correctable. Part of it is stop trying to make more and more plays than you need to. That's one thing that's tough because we got a group of guys that want to make plays, and that's the truth of the matter.
"When that happens and until they settle in and realize or recognize just how important it is to do your job, I mean, the expectations for those guys have been out there since the season ended last year and part of that, I think, is the guys keep hearing what everybody keeps telling them. The truth of the matter is you have to be careful because that doesn't matter. What matters is what you put on the field. I think we got to stop listening to what everybody's telling us and start thinking about what we need to do."