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Ron Rivera gets real on Commanders’ defensive struggles after loss vs. Lions

Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders, in the third year of head coach Ron Rivera’s leadership, started off the season promisingly enough, taking home the win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 28-22. However, their Week 2 performance against the Detroit Lions was lackluster, especially defensively, allowing Jared Goff and the Lions’ receiving corps to run rampant with four touchdowns, losing 36-27 in the end despite Carson Wentz’ best efforts.

Fresh off reviewing game film a day after the loss, Rivera was blunt in his assessment of the team’s defensive shortcomings, mincing no words regarding the team’s coverage faults and communication blunders. In particular, Rivera thought his defense allowed too many explosive plays.

“A little bit of the biggest problem more so than anything else was just too many explosive plays,” Rivera said, alluding to how some of the failures in stopping those sorts of plays stem more from individual mistakes. “It’s not a group. It’s not schematics. It is failure to put ourselves in position to force things to happen.”

Rivera did not drop names, and yet the player in question certainly would have heard an earful during the film session. For a team with high hopes of competing this season, the entire unit must be in sync, especially the seven in the Commanders’ backline. Those seven players must have full knowledge of the game plan and communicate that to each other so no one gets left behind on coverages and gets the blame pinned on them, and that’s what Rivera thought the Commanders lacked, using the play where D’Andre Swift scored a 22-yard touchdown as a reference point.

“When you watch the tape, like we do, we had a guy that didn’t cover his guy. If our guy goes and hugs up on Swift, but the way that ball was thrown like he should have, there’s a chance we could have intercepted it, knocked it down, or made the tackle immediately, and they’ll have to try and kick a field goal anyway,” Rivera added.

It’s back to the drawing board for Ron Rivera and the Commanders defense, who certainly don’t lack for talent with Kendall Fuller leading the way at cornerback. Commanders fans will hope they get it together soon defensively, especially with the red-hot Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia Eagles coming into town for their Week 3 showdown.