Jack Del Rio: Washington defense “can be better” (because it can’t be much worse)

Mike Florio

Washington has a new coaching staff, led by a defensive-minded head coach and a defensive coordinator who is a two-time former NFL head coach. On Wednesday, new coordinator Jack Del Rio spoke with reporters for the first time since making the transition from media back to coaching.

Asked about the status of the team’s defense, Del Rio was candid.

“In general, it can be better,” Del Rio said. “Obviously, 32nd in third-down defense, 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in things and towards the bottom of the league.”

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So what kind of potential does the defense have?

“In general, I’d say it can be better,” Del Rio reiterated. “Obviously, 32nd in third down defense, 32nd in yards allowed, I mean just 32nd in things, towards the bottom of the league in several categories. So, there’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s interesting to me that so much is made this time of year with thoughts on potential. Potential really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really amount to much. To me, it’s more about what we can get done and the work that we’re willing to put in and the idea that ‘look, we’re going to become a respected unit, OK?’ We’ve got to learn how to commit to doing what is best for each other and what is best for this football team. We have an opportunity.

“One of the things that I’ll talk to our guys about is we set our agenda, OK? Nobody else. In our room, we’ll set our agenda. To me, there’s a mindset that’s a part of that. We’ll respect everyone. We’ll fear no one. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I mean just understanding where we all belong so that we can play really fast. I believe in having a defense that understands where it belongs, that is accountable to each other, that plays hard, that plays fast, that plays physical, that plays tough. That toughness is not just a physical toughness but a mental toughness as well. We have a ways to go and the communication is going to be important and the understanding of how we all fit together is going to be important. Those are just some of the principles that I believe in.”

Fans of the team will hope those principles lead to performance. The team has struggled for most of the past three decades, and Del Rio has done well enough as a coordinator to be hired twice before as a head coach, with multiple playoff appearances.

However it plays out, the statistics show that the defense likely will get better, primarily because it can’t get much worse.

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