As good as Chase Young could be for the Redskins both soon and long into the future, Jack Del Rio wants people to remember an important fact: Washington will still need to line up another 10 guys on defense.
The first question to start a Thursday Zoom call between the local media and the Burgundy and Gold's defensive coordinator had to do with how the team's No. 2 pick is handing the offseason so far. That allowed Del Rio to give some general praise of Young.
"He’s been paying attention; he’s been learning the system," the coach said. "I think the sky's the limit for him in terms of what he’ll be able to bring to us. We obviously have big designs, we think he’s a really good player, and we’re looking forward to getting him involved.”
A few inquiries later, though, Del Rio was asked how much Young's presence could change the entire unit. That's when he dropped his reality check.
"Well, I think the biggest thing is that he’s still just one player," he told reporters.
Yes, Young has all the makings of being a supremely superb player, which Del Rio has acknowledged already — after the draft, he labeled Young's "toolbox" of skills the "most complete" he's seen — and acknowledged again on Thursday.
But Del Rio was also pragmatic about the ways in which Young could singlehandedly transform the defense. While the following quotes aren't as fun or flashy as his toolbox remark, they're still necessary to take into account.
"It’s not about just rush, it’s about rush and coverage and them going hand-in-hand," Del Rio explained. "You’re going to need coverage to hold up so that when our defensive line does win, they can get there. You can have the best rush in the world but if you don’t have some coverage and make the quarterback hold it, it’s not going to be positive for you."
Take last year's Redskins, for example. That group finished 10th in the league in sacks, yet they were still one of the league's worst collections overall. As productive as their rush was, they couldn't consistently make up for repeated busts in the intermediate and deep areas of the passing game.
So, as fans start looking ahead to 2020 and begin imagining what Young, plus the other talent up front, can do, they need to be sure to keep Del Rio's assessment in the back of their minds.
Should there be any less excitement about Young? No. Absolutely not. There's no such thing as too much hype for someone who appears as complete as he is.
However, Young's arrival on its own won't solve everything. It can solve a lot, sure, but the rest of the line, the linebackers and the secondary will have to contribute, too. It's simple, it's boring and it's true. And Del Rio's trying to remind anyone who'll listen.
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