If anyone ever needed a Kirk Cousins-style “You like that!” game, it is Chase Young on Sunday.
Appropriately, he will be playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that six years ago set in motion the legendary moment when Cousins came off the field screaming, “You like that!” after leading his team back from a 24-0 deficit to defeat the Bucs 31-30.
That changed the 2015 season. Remember, that was the “Code Red” game for Jay Gruden.
It’s not a “Code Red” game for Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera, even though they have a record of 2-6. And I doubt this Tampa team — the defending Super Bowl champions — is going to blow a 24-0 lead to this Washington Football Team.
But “You like that!” was about easing doubts as much as anything, and the doubts about Young are stacking up, multiplying faster than the sacks he has this year.
Which would be one. I’m sorry — one and a half.
Young — last year’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and team captain — needs to respond on the field after he was called out this week by Rivera.
The coach had expressed some doubts about Young in an article with writer Mike Silver on the Washington Football Team website last week, saying he expected more from Young and his pass-rushing counterpart, Montez Sweat (out for several weeks with a broken jaw).
And the coach expanded on those doubts while meeting with reporters this week.
“I’d like to see him pay a little bit more attention on the chipper (blocker) just knowing that there’s a guy there,” Rivera said. “Hey, I’d love to see him run through that guy a few more times and kind of set the tone and tempo instead of reacting to him a little too much. I think that’s one thing that he’ll get a little more comfortable with as he works on it, and it’s something that he really never had to face. Now it’s something that’s a little more prevalent that he and Montez are going to see a little bit more and we’ve seen it. I mean, statistically, it’s been shown that these guys are seeing chips about 55, 56 percent of the time on third down, third and seven to 10.”
The questions about Young continued, and so did Rivera:
“He dives inside a little too much,” he said. “There’s been a couple instances where you’ve seen the quarterback work out and get outside of where he was. It was one of the things he and I talked about today. I said, ‘Look you got to remember now, I know you want to make plays, but thing you got to do is you’ve got to be patient, be disciplined and let the place come to you.’ I went back and looked at all of his plays from last year. There’s a whole bunch of them. One thing that was really prevalent was you could see him sticking to the edge a little bit longer before he ducked inside. That’s one of the things I’d love to see him get back to.”
Rivera wasn’t done. Asked if there was more of a burden on Young now with Sweat out, he responded, “Yes, there is. To me, he and I had a great conversation is that now’s when you really got to play your game. Now, you’re really got to stick to being disciplined.”
Here is what makes these responses alarming for Washington Football Team fans — if Rivera is speaking so publicly about Young’s problems, it’s likely because he has been having these conversations with Young until he has turned blue in the face and gotten little if any response.
If it’s gotten to this level — to speak so publicly about Young’s struggles — it’s likely because the coach has grown tired of listening to himself tell Young he hasn’t been paying attention to his responsibilities. So decided to tell the world.
These words like “discipline” have been repeated throughout the season when it came to Young. They are the same words we used to hear about another talented Washington Football pass rusher named LaVar Arrington — who never lived up to his promise here. It’s a cautionary tale for Young, whose hype, like Arrington, has exceeded his production so far this year.
Rivera was careful in his comments, as he often is. This wasn’t Jay Gruden driving a steamroller over Robert Griffin III. But it was a dressing down, make no mistake about it.
Before Washington faced Tampa in last season’s wild-card playoff game, Young came off the field following a win over Philadelphia yelling, “Tom Brady, I’m coming.”
This time the best thing he could yell at the end of the game against Tampa would be, “You like that?” Because so far, Rivera doesn’t like that.
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.