It seemed like only a matter of time, and Friday became that time.
“This morning, I spoke with Coach (Ron) Rivera and he recommended that the team make changes at defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach,” said Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris earlier today (via a team statement). “I accepted those recommendations and want to thank Jack and Brent for their contributions to the Commanders. We wish them and their families well moving forward."
Going forward hopefully means upward, because Rivera’s 4-8 club has had a disastrous season on the defensive side of the football. On Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium, the Commanders gave up 431 total yards and five offensive touchdowns in a 45-10 loss to the Cowboys. There were zero takeaways or sacks and Washington allowed Dallas to convert 6-of-10 attempts on third down. Those yardage total came on just 50 offensive plays as the Cowboys averaged 8.6 yards per snap.
All one has to do is look at Washington’s defense from a year ago and 12 games into 2023 and the numbers are startling. The Commanders have given up a whopping 350 points in a dozen outings. A defensive unit that surrendered 36 offensive touchdowns (26 TD passes) during the club’s 8-8-1 showing a year ago has already opposing offenses to reach the end zone 35 times. Exactly 80 percent of those TDs (28) have come through the air.
Hence the decision to not only part ways with coordinator Jack Del Rio but defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer as well. Only twice last season, the Commanders gave up at least 30 points in a game. That has already happened seven times this year, with five games remaining on the schedule.
Last Sunday at home, Washington managed to sack the Giants’ rookie quarterback nine times, five of those in the first quarter, and still allowed the young signal-caller to throw for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Rivera is in his fourth season at the helm of Washington. The team would have to run the table for him to avoid a fourth straight showing below .500 (although the team won the NFC East with a 7-9 mark in 2020). The franchise hasn’t enjoyed a winning campaign since finishing 8-7-1 in 2016.
With new ownership in place and the Commanders in the midst of a disastrous season, it could be an offseason of massive change in old D.C.