A player-by-player evaluation of the Commanders’ defense halfway through 2022

Player-by-player review of the Commanders' defense originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As of Thursday, the Commanders’ 2022 regular-season schedule will be at its midway point. The club opened versus Jacksonville 60 days ago and is slated to wrap up against Dallas in 59 days.

That means now is as good a time as any to review what those on Washington’s roster have accomplished so far. So, Pete Hailey is setting out to do exactly that with this post featuring one thought on 19 of Washington’s defensive players who’ve contributed in some form or fashion this year…

Interior defensive line

Jonathan Allen: It’s officially time for Allen to be mentioned when discussing the sport’s most dominant defenders; he’s a total force as both a run stuffer and a pass rusher. 

Daron Payne: Payne, who’s been a star in the past in individual games or for monthlong stretches, is putting together a sterling, complete campaign just in time for his next round of contract negotiations.

John Ridgeway: Ridgeway’s penalty at the end of the Vikings game will be the first thing most think about when they hear his name, which is unfortunate, because he’s been a decent pickup off of waivers from the Cowboys. 

Phidarian Mathis: Mathis’ rookie year was done in the first quarter of Week 1, meaning the Commanders never really got to experience his potential as a line-of-scrimmage clogger. 

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Defensive end

Montez Sweat: It may perpetually feel like Sweat has more to offer due to his insane natural skills, but he’s turning in a solid season and does more in run defense than he gets credit for. 

James Smith-Williams: Smith-Williams has logged two sacks as part of the crew that’s suiting up in place of Chase Young, as the 2020 seventh-rounder has developed into a useful edge piece.

Casey Toohill: Toohill is sack-less but some advanced metrics tied to his rushes have been glowing and suggest that he’s effective as a rotational end.

Efe Obada: Obada raced out to three sacks through Washington’s first six outings but he’s been shut out in the category over the last three contests. 


Jamin Davis: Davis’ train to Bustville, which was once chugging along with serious speed, is currently stopped thanks to the noticeable improvements he’s made in nearly every area.

Cole Holcomb: A foot sprain has sidelined Holcomb lately, though before it, he was performing a bit better than the average expectations that were placed in front of him.

David Mayo and Jon Bostic: These two veterans have mixed in occasionally at linebacker, but the 2023 Commanders better have more enticing options on the depth chart than them.


Kendall Fuller: Fuller’s lack of athleticism has been exposed by the league’s more rangy, explosive receivers, while his intelligence and anticipation have helped him win when his assignments are more on his level of physicality. 

Benjamin St-Juste: Once William Jackson III was booted from the lineup, St-Juste bounced to the outside, where he’s displayed toughness and a penchant for breaking up passes (as well as a tendency to get a little too handsy).

Rachad Wildgoose: Wildgoose was the one tapped to fill in for St-Juste in the slot, but a few untimely penalties caused coaches to go in a different direction against the Vikings.

Danny Johnson: That different direction mentioned above is Johnson, who notched his first interception to close out the half in the Minnesota tilt and now appears to have a shot at keeping the third corner gig.


Kam Curl: Curl’s been the victim of a couple extremely well-placed touchdown throws in 2022, but his sure tackling, ability to communicate and wicked versatility has established him as one of the club’s most prized players.

Bobby McCain: Credit goes to the smaller McCain for being such a durable safety, but he’s not the ballhawk that the team could truly use from its deep coverage guy.

Darrick Forrest: Forrest has generated a fumble and picked off a pass in his second year and looks like a starter-in-the-making who will use his aggression to leave an impact on a weekly basis.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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