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3 reasons why Washington Commanders defense has them poised for success

Andrew Buller-Russ

Last year, the Washington Football Team came into the season as a team expected to vie for a playoff spot coming out of the NFC East. But they finished with the same amount of wins as a season ago, going 7-10. Much of this came down to losing Ryan Fitzpatrick for all but one game. 2022 on the other hand, for the Washington Commanders, figures to be different, with Carson Wentz.

But it’s not just the lack of FitzMagic or the addition of Wentz, let’s be honest, the defense let everyone down. This was supposed to be a well-oiled unit led by Ron Rivera. One that gets after quarterbacks in three seconds or less, instead? They got torched, allowing 25.5 points per game, and the most passing touchdowns per contest, it was a mess.

But there’s reason to believe their defense might be much-improved in 2022, here are my three reasons why.

Chase Young & Montez Sweat are a pass-rushing dream duo

NFL: Washington Football Team Training Camp
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a pass-rushing duo that has more potential than Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Teams dream of landing even one of these talents, well, Washington has two of them. Both all-out athletic freaks, it’s more than that. Both players have more than just eye-popping physical skills, they also have the ability to do it right now.

Unfortunately, both players missed extensive action last year, with Young playing nine games, and Sweat making it into 10, with them finishing with a total of 6.5 sacks in 2021. They should be able to double, or maybe even triple this amount in 2022, as long as they can stay healthy, but there’s another reason why their jobs will get easier next season.

Related: Washington Commanders ‘rebuffed’ Daron Payne trade pursuits from NFL teams

Carson Wentz should make Washington’s team more efficient

NFL: Washington Commanders Minicamp
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Fewer three-and-outs should translate to better opportunities for the defense, putting them in a better position to defend to begin with. As long as Wentz doesn’t get interception-happy, the defense should be more primes for success. Wentz may not be Russell Wilson, or another superstar QB, but a trade of this caliber also would have taken away from the depth Washington has.

They managed to add Wentz without impacting their current roster. That should be considered a win, even if he isn’t a top-10 QB. But the thing is, we’ve seen him perform at an MVP level in the past, who’s to say he can’t flip that switch again with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson? Wentz may be on his last leg as a starter, but he’s shown an ability to play at an elite level over extended stretches in the past, maybe the Commanders have landed on a diamond in the rough?

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Check our top-20 quarterbacks, find out why Josh Allen is No. 1

Jamin Davis, front seven ready to take next step

NFL: Washington Commanders Minicamp
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Like Montez Sweat and Chase Young, linebacker Jamin Davis is an athletic freak. Not only is he large at 6-foot-4, he also can fly, with 4.48 speed. He’s the leader of this linebacking unit. He certainly has the support to back it up, with four first-round picks on the defensive line.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what Davis does, if the secondary doesn’t hold it down, the front-seven will be a failure again. Davis does need to improve, working to improve his 48.7 PFF coverage grade from a season ago, but at just 23 years old, there’s no reason to panic, this kid will improve and the sky’s the limit, because he has all the traits.

Related: Washington Commanders rookie Jahan Dotson generating massive buzz before training camp