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Sacks stand out, but Chase Young prides himself on defending the run

Sacks stand out, but Chase Young prides himself on defending the run

The main reason the Redskins selected Chase Young second overall -- and why many draft experts deem him as a generational talent -- is because of his incredible ability to rush the quarterback.

But besides chasing after the passer, there's another aspect of the 21-year-old's game that he prides himself on: his run defense.

"It's definitely a big part of my game," Young told local media in a Zoom conference call on Monday.

When talking about Young's fantastic junior season with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2019, his nation-leading 16.5 sacks are usually the first point in the conversation. However, the defensive end also led the team in tackles-for-loss (21) and finished fourth on the team in solo tackles despite missing two games due to suspension. As a whole, Young earned the highest overall grade by Pro Football Focus (96.1) of any defensive end in the website's history. 

Young credited his success defending the run due to multiple film sessions he would have with head coach Ryan Day throughout the week during the fall.

"The first thing that we would watch to prepare for that game that week is the top five runs of our opponent that weekend," Young said. "That next day I would go into practice calling out plays, in the run game. And I think that’s why my game really excelled even more because I knew if it was a run. Play recognition when I would study film. I knew, if it’s this formation, 80 percent run. I knew, if it was this formation, it was going to be 20 percent run."

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After playing sparingly as a freshman, Young broke onto the scene as a sophomore in 2018. In a September clash versus rival Penn State, Young had a stellar two sacks and three tackles for loss. However, with the game on the line, Young's biggest play of the evening came on a run play by the Nittany Lions.

Trailing by one with under a minute remaining, Penn State was faced with a tough fourth-and-5 situation from the Buckeyes' 43-yard line. The Nittany Lions tried to run a read-option, but Young stuffed the play in the backfield, sealing the victory for Ohio State.

From that game on, Young continued to get better. By the time his sophomore year concluded, he was already considered one of the best defensive ends in all of college football.

But a year later, Young entered the 2019 season hungrier than ever. That resulted in his stellar 2019 campaign, one his former head coach called "dominant."

"I feel like, play recognition throughout my run game, and obviously from my freshman year to junior year, I got a lot stronger," Young said. "My balance has gotten a lot better. My hand placement, my lockout has gotten a lot better since my junior year. I feel like I play the run real good, I feel like I play double teams real good, I feel like I play pulling guards real good."

Young understands that sacks are the flashy thing that comes with being a defensive lineman; he racked up plenty of those in his college career. But the No. 2 overall pick emphasized that he doesn't want his sack count to distract everyone from the impact he has defending the ground game, too.

"You know obviously, you know, where you get your money is, they say, per se, is sacks," he said. "So, I feel like those sacks maybe overshadow what I do in the run game. But I feel like those people that know ball for real, when you go back and just watch my film of my run game, I feel like they know what I do in the run game."

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Making a case for a DC-themed name for the Washington Football Team

Making a case for a DC-themed name for the Washington Football Team

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for a DC-themed name.

Case for: Washington, D.C.

If there was one sentiment most common amongst the marketing experts interviewed for this project, it was that the Washington Football Team’s best option for a new name is something related to the city the team plays in.

This opinion wasn’t specific to Washington, D.C., as the experts cited other sports teams with great brands related to the city they represent, but the experts did cite the unique opportunities D.C. provides for a brand.

“The general rule of thumb for sports franchise branding is to tap into the elements of a city, a geography, a people that is highly relevant, highly aligned with how people in that area identify themselves,” said Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at University of Oregon. “The Pittsburgh Steelers are called the Pittsburgh Steelers for a reason. And that identity, that industry, working class, blue collar, hard hat kind’ve imagery really speaks emotionally to people in that city. And that is the strength of that connection, and that’s the strength of that brand. So, in general, you want to find things that really best represent the culture and the people and the uniqueness of that city, of that region.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THIS FAN CONCEPT FOR THE WASHINGTON POTOMACS AS A DC-THEMED NAME

“And so what are those things in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area about people from there? What is to be from there? And the more you can align and tap into those things, conventional wisdom says the stronger that connection, the better the fan base connection will be.”

If done correctly, the Washington Football Team should be able strengthen an already loyal fan base by picking a name based on its city. Tapping into the region is a way to not only pacify some of the fans upset about a name change, but also gain new fans in the people who were not so fond of the previous brand. Doing it correctly, however, will take time, which is why it was wise for the team to temporarily change its name to Washington Football Team for this upcoming season.

Fans have tossed around names like the Senators, Generals and Monuments, but the marketing experts don’t like any of those to win people over. The Washington Senators already existed as the city’s Major League Baseball team until the franchise relocated in 1961. The Washington Generals still exist, but as the frequent lovable losers to the Harlem Globetrotters. And the Monuments, according to RedPeg Marketing CEO Brad Nierenberg, don’t have much energy.

RELATED: GLOBETROTTERS WILLING TO SELL WASHINGTON GENERALS NAME TO WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

“They’re not gonna be a name that is gonna create energy,” Nierenberg said. “That passion, it doesn’t evoke the type of emotion that a fan base is gonna be rallying around.”

Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, said a name like the Monuments would become a running joke. But according to his research, if the right name does exist for the team to connect its brand to the city, that is the direction the team should go.

“I did some analysis of that,” Derdenger said, “and what I’ve found is that teams that actually have a connection -- the team brand and name that has a connection to the local environment -- has actually stronger brand equity, higher brand equity.”

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If Washington opts to go in this direction, it wouldn’t be the first professional sports team in the region to do so, and by all accounts, the others have built pretty successful brands. The Washington Capitals struggled for many years after their inception in the mid-1970’s but became a successful brand even before winning their first Stanley Cup title in 2018. Same can be said for the Washington Nationals, who broke through for their first World Series title a year later. Winning obviously helps strengthen a brand, but how that brand sustains through losing is a better judge of how good it is.

Thanks to its location, Washington can create that very type of brand by appealing to more than just people in DMV area. Playing in the capital of the United States also allows the team to build a brand around a name that represents the entire country.

“I think that would be one of their strongest brand elements for them to bring forward,” said Keith Scully, CEO of Strategic-Noise Group and a graduate adjunct professor at Georgetown and American universities. “I think it would be accepted better as well, both on those current customers that they have as well as a nation.

“Taking a look at the Americans, something like that. Something that’s wholesome, and it’s Washington, D.C. How do you go ahead and develop an emotion that goes along with the country. I think they’re in the only place in the United States that can do it. Why not try it?”

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Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers say they won't have any fans for at least their first two home games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans' energetic support in the stands," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season. These two games will allow us to focus our attention on safely conducting games inside the stadium with all necessary participants."

That means there won't be any spectators for their Sept. 20 game with the Detroit Lions and their Oct. 5 Monday night game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Green Bay's third home game is Nov. 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Packers officials say any decision on whether to admit fans for that game would depend on the status of the pandemic, and that they'd consult with local health officials.

This announcement comes two weeks after Packers CEO Mark Murphy had said that any Packers home games this year would include no more than 10,000-12,000 spectators, if any fans were allowed at all.

All other public areas at Lambeau Field, including parking lots, the pro shop and the Packers Hall of Fame, will be closed during the home games that have no fans. The Titletown area surrounding Lambeau Field will remain open to the public, but no team-run, game-day activities will be planned.