Football Team

Ron Rivera: WFT's defense has been 'so disappointing' at times

Football Team

Because his squad took on, and defeated, the Giants last Thursday, Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera has had extra time to review the film from that matchup. And as he told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay in an interview on Monday, there were examples from that victory where he was quite encouraged with the defense.

"We had our moments," Rivera said. "You see things that get you there and go, 'Wow, this is what we're working towards.'"

Unfortunately, Rivera also saw other instances where that unit wasn't even close to performing at the level he and so many others expect it to be at. Those missteps seemed to bother him a lot more than the positive flashes pleased him, too.

"Then you see things and go, 'Man, that is so not us,'" Rivera continued. "'That is so disappointing. That is almost immature.' Again, that's just us growing and learning."

Coordinator Jack Del Rio's group is certainly off to a perplexing start in 2021.

Fans and analysts alike believed the Burgundy and Gold defense had a real shot at emerging as the sport's most feared collection of talent, yet through two weeks, they're nowhere near matching that sort of hype.

So far, Washington is 25th in yards allowed, 27th in first downs allowed, 30th in third-down percentage and 19th in points allowed.

By comparison, they were 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 4th in those crucial areas in 2020. 


It'd be tempting to blame those discouraging stats on the club's faulty opener against the Chargers, where Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles offense moved the ball at will at FedEx Field. Daniel Jones and New York, however, didn't encounter much resistance either during their Thursday trip to the stadium, and that bunch is not anyone's idea of a dynamic foe.

Next up for Rivera and Washington is a trip to Buffalo to battle with the Bills, who are led by the super-gifted Josh Allen. With how the team struggled to contain Jones as a rusher, there's already serious angst building among the franchise's supporters about how they'll fare versus Allen, who's even more prolific with the ball in his hand than Jones is.

"We gameplan for it," Rivera said about Allen's running ability. "We'll gameplan for him. We have to be prepared for those."

The preparation, as far as anyone on the outside can discern, isn't the problem. Instead, Rivera and numerous players have lamented the defensive execution in their respective press conferences and chats with the media since the regular season began and the mediocre results have followed. 

Whatever it takes to clean things up in that regard — so far, the solutions they're proposing feature buzzwords like "communication" and being better with their "assignments" — must be done and done soon. Washington is way too skilled on that side of the ball to already be under-delivering and receiving reviews that are as harsh as the one Rivera gave on Monday.