Whether by a scout, college coach, or everyday analyst, when a prospect is labeled a generational talent entering the NFL, fans expect said player to perform like a star week after week. .
As for Washington Commanders rusher Chase Young, he lived up to those expectations as a rookie. In 15 games, he compiled 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, 12 QB hits, four passes defended and three fumble recoveries, all of which he returned for a touchdown.
After the dust settled, Young was voted Defensive Rookie of the Year, winning 86% of the first-place vote and beating Jeremy Chinn of the Panthers, Patrick Queen of the Ravens and Antoine Winfield Jr of the Bucs.
Unfortunately for Young, his second season was to forget. While we’d say he performed better than some fans are claiming, his sack and pass-rush output left a lot to be desired before he suffered a torn ACL in Week 10.
The good news is that Young attacked his rehab with a killer mindset and Ron Rivera’s latest comments about the 22-year-old suggest his disappointing 2021 was just reality check, or humility, which he needed after his noble rookie year.
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said Chase Young had been “awakened” by his adversity-filled sophomore season.
Speaking at the League’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Rivera said, “I think for Chase it was a bit of a wake-up call, a bit of a wake-up call.” It’s not the most descriptive quote we’ve heard from Rivera, but the third-year head coach didn’t need to say more than he did.
Did Young become complacent after starting racing as a rookie? We hate to slander, but it seems interesting that the former No. 2 overall pick skipped voluntary OTAs due to prior commitments to off-pitch endorsements.
As one of the faces of the franchise and only entering his second season in the league, you’d expect Young to be the focus of off-season practices. Considering Young’s impact in Year 1, fans weren’t wrong or wrong to expect him to enter Year 2 motivated to take his game to the next level.
We obviously don’t question Young’s work ethic or hunger. However, skipping OTAs put unnecessary pressure on him to deliver a lot after racking up so much credit as a rookie and he was disappointed to the tune of 1.5 sacks and four QB hits in nine games before his season-ending injury.
Speaking of this reality check and the “wake-up call” Rivera alluded to earlier, it looks like Young has decided to change up his approach to the offseason this time around. Rivera has stayed in touch with the former Buckeye throughout his rehab and believes he will be around for the start of OTAs in mid-April.
In my conversations with him he said he was going to be here and I’m pretty excited to see him here. One thing I really appreciate is how focused he is right now. He is really attacking his offseason, his rehabilitation program. I think it was good.
It’s almost like Young is learning on the job…which is completely normal for young superstars entering the NFL with colossal expectations. If you were in his shoes, would you really have passed up the opportunity to earn extra money by shooting commercials for Mercedes and appearing on Family Feud?
It still wasn’t a great look for Young, but the fact that he’s set to show up at organized team activities despite not participating in any of the physical demands suggests he’s reached a milestone in its maturity and leadership.
If so, the NFL should be put on notice.