In 2019, the Redskins' defense loved talking about communication but hated actually employing it on the field.
Throughout the year, opposing pass catchers ran free — and sometimes they ran FREE — when facing Washington's defense. It's something fans noticed (it was impossible not to) and agonized over on a weekly basis.
Not surprisingly, new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio noticed it, too.
Well, maybe noticed isn't the right description. Immediately spotted because he has two working eyeballs sounds more fitting.
"All you have to do is watch the tape," he told the media on Wednesday. "When you’re watching the tape, there are countless examples of right before the snap, where players are not in a good position – knees bent, focus on the offense. They’re kind of turned to each other, looking around like, 'What are we doing?' or questioning. You can see them asking each other what’s going on. The communication, the urgency in getting to the line, the urgency in getting the calls and communicating to each other, there was an issue there."
Sources told JP Finlay that there was frustration over Greg Manusky's "complex" scheme last season, and perhaps that complexity was the reason for the endless problems on that side of the ball. Or maybe the team needs to make drastic changes to its depth chart.
Regardless, Del Rio isn't too worried about figuring out what went so wrong for a bunch that was supposed to be near the top of the league a year ago. Instead, his focus is correctly on turning around a defense that, at least to those on the outside, possesses some serious talent.
In explaining how he intends to lead that leap, one word popped up a couple of times, much like it did in his answer above.
"We have to get lined up with some urgency so we have a chance to communicate about what the offense is trying to do, not just what our assignment is but what the offense is trying to do," Del Rio said. "They’re giving us clues and we don’t even have time to look for those clues if we don’t know what we’re doing to begin with. That urgency in that pre-snap portion of the game, I mean that’s huge to me. It’ll be very important."
Del Rio probably doesn't know it, but in giving that response, he's already won over tons of Washington's supporters. And if he can actually improve this essential area — and his track record suggests he has the ability to — he'll capture plenty more.
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