Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio met with the press Thursday. Without using many words, Del Rio at times does drop clues. Here are some excerpts.
When Del Rio was asked about three specific cornerbacks Benjamin St-Juste, Rachad Wildgoose and William Jackson III, it was classic Del Rio.
“I think Benjamin’s done a great job for us; pleased with him. Wildgoose is taking advantage of his opportunity to play, doing a good job for us. I’ll let Coach handle the William discussion. I’ll let him handle that.”
Facing Aaron Rodgers Sunday, Del Rio knows he is “one of the all-time greats at the position. He’s extremely accurate, good decision maker. He can throw the ball from a lot of different slots, a lot of different angles, gets it out, makes decisions, and gets it out really, really quick. He is one of the elite players at the quarterback position, has been for a long time doing it. So a lot of respect for him and we’re geared up, ready to go.”
When asked how Jamin Davis has helped the defense improve, Del Rio probably raised some eyebrows.
“I think as a group we’re, figuring things out a little bit. Still a lot of work to do. I think we’re making strides and we’re just gonna keep pushing. I think Jamin is included in that. I think our group has come out, has continued to grind and work. That’s what we need to do in order to improve.”
Del Rio clarified sure, you need sacks, but QB hits are awfully important as well.“Sure. Yeah. I mean the idea is we want to hit and affect the quarterback as much as we can. Clearly closing the deal with the sack is the ultimate, well, sack/fumble is the ultimate, but you gotta be able to pressure the quarterback in this league, and that’ll be a test this week.”
He is not an individualist, nor is Jack Del Rio simplistic. “There’s nothing so simple about it. I mean, it’s work. It’s an understanding. It’s getting a group of men to work as a team, together. It’s not about an individual in order to rush a quarterback; it’s gotta be coordinated, and it’s gotta be understood. You’ve gotta play off each other and communicate with each other and execute together.”
Del Rio wasn’t shy about praising defensive ends James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill and Efe Obada.
“They’re trying to take advantage of their opportunities as Chase [Young] heals. We know we’ll get him back, but until we get him back, those guys are getting probably more opportunities than they’ll get when he is back. And I think they’re doing everything they can to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Does Del Rio need to update his scouting report on Aaron Rodgers?
“It’s not so much what I know, what I have in my mind. It’s more, what can we convey to our guys? What can they learn? How well can we understand together what he’s about and what they’re about?”
Instead of dwelling on how the defense has gelled, Del Rio looked forward.
“Just working at it, just trying to get a little bit better. I think we’re continuing to grind it. I believe in this group of men and we’re working hard together. I think good things will happen for us. Got a lot of work to do, lot of work in front of us. Huge challenge this week.”
With all the recent complaining about officiating becoming too skewed towards protecting quarterbacks, Del Rio responded quite positively.
“I understand it. The league wants offense; there are certain things that are obvious, but don’t fight it. Understand it, teach it and let’s go. So it’s not about things being popular or do I like it. No, but I have a clear understanding of what the rules are, and we’re going to make sure we do what we can to teach our guys, help them understand it. Control the things you can control.”
On if he worries about some of his guys being susceptible to a similar call:
“I’m not a big worrier. Just teach and go, man, teach and go.”