The Commanders’ plan has come full circle — and right between the eyes

Chase Young and head coach Ron Rivera look on during the Commanders’ victory over the Broncos. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)There’s a circular poetry to the latest Washington Commanders’ failure. Everything is set to end in the same place it began.

During the 2020 NFL draft, when the Commanders abandoned their franchise quarterback need and selected Chase Young No. 2 overall, they aimed to create a superpower along the defensive front just as the San Francisco 49ers had done to build a Super Bowl team after drafting Nick Bosa to their already ultra-talented unit.

During what was supposed to be an era of defensive line abundance that expedited Rivera’s effort to build a winner, the Commanders instead went 25-32-1, made one playoff appearance and never posted a winning season. In this span, their defense went from great to regressive to solid to miserable.

The mediocre batting average on these prospects would be understandable, though still unsatisfactory, if they had been offensive prospects. You could rationalize it as Rivera, a coach with a defensive background who was given the keys to an entire franchise for the first time, making mistakes outside of his expertise. But Rivera came to Washington in 2020 after orchestrating a solid defensive-driven era with the Carolina Panthers, and he inherited the trio of Allen, Payne and Sweat.

They didn’t make each other better, and they might thrive now that they’re apart. Washington was right to move on, and the front office did a solid job salvaging an extra second- and third-round pick out of two players scheduled for free agency after this season. But overall, the personal and organizational shortcomings are astounding. Possibility turned into a letdown far too easily.As a rookie, Young was a difference-maker.

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