Bills third-round rookie Adolphus Washington was a healthy scratch for the team’s season finale yesterday, the first game with Anthony Lynn as the head coach. Therefore, it was the first opportunity for him to be in control of the active, game day roster.
During the game, the TV commentators said Lynn told them Washington didn’t have a great week in practice, and Deandre Coleman — who’s bounced back and forth from the practice squad to the 53-man roster — along with Jerel Worthy — who’s appeared in many games but hasn’t seen many snaps — would instead see the field as a reward for their solid week on the practice field.
During my grading project, Coleman and Worthy were both significantly more efficient than Washington this season.
It was a meaningless, ultimately brutal game for the Bills, but Washington’s benching sent a subtle yet important message — which may become foreshadowing if Lynn is hired as Buffalo’s permanent head coach. He likely won’t be afraid to hold players more accountable. If they aren’t performing well, their draft position or previous standing with the team may not matter.
Though that philosophy could be considered too harsh and over-reactive to some, it’s a philosophy that’d likely be welcomed by most fans, and, in the end, would be beneficial to players. They wouldn’t as easily fall into any mindset of complacency. In the rapidly evolving, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, complacency is a catalyst of poor results.
More on that — Worthy’s minimal playing time in 2016 was a microcosm of Rex’s rigid system and inability to adapt his defensive scheme to his players.
Worthy was ridiculously productive when he saw the field. But with Kyle Williams the main (see: only?) penetrating, one-gap defensive tackle within confines of Rex’s complex defense, Worthy rarely saw the field this year. Instead, Rex opted for “better” two-gapping defensive linemen whose primary responsibility was to eat blocks, not attack upfield.
The irony here is — Washington emerged as one of the nation’s most disruptive interior pass-rushers at Ohio State (17.5 sacks in his last two seasons combined) by playing a free, one-gap role. As a rookie in Rex’s system, he two-gapped the majority of the time, mostly having to read-and-react instead of operating in attack mode.
It is possible for Lynn to be a “players coach” — by all indications he is — while instilling a much more disciplined environment than the one previously set up by Rex.