ASHBURN, Va. – The way Chase Young ended his rookie season led to a question entering his sophomore year: Would the Washington Football Team defensive end become a top-five pass rusher?
That has not happened. And the question now is this: Why hasn’t Young been more productive?
Through eight games he has 1.5 sacks and his pressure numbers are low. His sophomore season has become more about learning lessons than establishing his rank as an NFL pass rusher. He has been a double team and has received chips more often than in his rookie season.
“I’m a man, I can take criticism,” Young said. “It’s a process. Everyone will talk. Just wait until the end of the road. Just keep looking.”
But on Monday, coach Ron Rivera’s message was basic: Be patient and disciplined. With fellow defensive end Montez Sweat out 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw, there will be more of a burden on Young, starting with Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-2 (1 pm ET, Fox).
Rivera needs a lot to hit his players, and he did it with Young during the bye week in an article on the team’s website and again during a press conference, mentioning how Young needs to do more and handle different situations.
“It’s been tremendous about it. Work on it,” Rivera said. “He’s seeing some things that are a little bit different for him, a little bit new to him, and we are trying to help him learn and understand how to win in those situations.”
It will be tough for Young and his linemates to harass Sunday’s opposing quarterback Tom Brady. He has been sacked 12 times in eight games. Brady averages 2.50 seconds before throwing the ball, the second-fastest in the NFL.
But for Young it’s just about putting together good races. In the second half of last season, he had four of his 7.5 sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered three. He installed other pass rushers with his pressure.
“There is a lot of pressure on him,” Rivera said. “I wanted to make sure he understood that he doesn’t have to do something extraordinary. I don’t want him to go in and think that every play has to be great.”
Young said expectations are not a burden.
“I’m not under pressure,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure. I don’t listen to people … You have to block the haters.”
Later, he added: “I am blessed. I can play on Sundays. I support my family, I am comfortable. I can go out and play my ball.”
But it is under more scrutiny. That’s life as the No. 2 overall pick, especially if he plays for his hometown team.
“He’s frustrated, but I don’t think he’d be that frustrated if they won,” said Young’s personal manager Ian Thomas, who played collegiate at Illinois and coached Young for two years in high school. “He’s a guy who could be double digits [in sacks] at this point in the season … But he won’t make excuses. You can point out all the reasons, but you still want it. He won’t use that as a reason not to make the plays he wants to make. “
Young, a team captain, missed offseason volunteer workouts while filming commercials. It’s hard to say if he would be having a better season if he had shown up for those training sessions.
“I was making money, honey,” Young said. “I have to earn money. None of you would have avoided money. It’s a job, just like all of you have to do your job, I do my job.”
Last season, Young won from the edge with 22.3% of his fast passes compared to 18.6% this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He beat doubles teams 14.3% of the time compared to 2.9% in 2021. When he rushed in last season, he won 20% of the time; He hasn’t run much indoors this season, but he has yet to win.
He’s being hit harder by tight ends and running backs compared to 2020. Lines are slipping his way more often. Rivera said his internal stats show Young and Sweat drop 55 to 57% of the time from third and 7 to third and 10.
“Some plays are really good and I hope they chip me and he doesn’t,” Young said. “It’s like they’re playing a mental game. I just have to adapt. It’s just marking how I’m doing and continuing to trust the process … I spoke with Coach Rivera and we have a plan to fix that.” . “
Rivera said: “I’d love to see him go through that guy a few more times and set the tone and pace instead of overreacting to him. It’s something he never had to face.”
Young said he will contact Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, whom he has known since the ninth grade. Young has also spoken with other former pass-rushers, from Michael Strahan to Bruce Smith.
His advice, in part, was: You can beat him with power.
But Young also knows that he has to mature in some ways.
“It has a lot to do with my not trusting my teammates, that we don’t trust others,” he said. “I might think someone might be out of line and I think I have to cover that and then, ‘boop.’ We have to trust each other.”
His peers trust him.
“He’s got high expectations because of who he is,” said Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who also played with Young at Ohio State. “He doesn’t shy away from that … He hasn’t gone down too low, even though he would want more of himself. He’s still working and working, knowing those opportunities will present themselves down the stretch.”