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WFT Daily: Chase Young's Case For Defensive Rookie Of The Year

Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) runs back a fumble recovery for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) runs back a fumble recovery for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.


What Chase Young accomplished against the San Francisco 49ers was unprecedented on several levels.

Young was the first player in Washington Football Team history to record a fumble return touchdown, a forced fumble and a sack -- and he did it all before halftime. He also batted down two passes, becoming the first rookie and third player in NFL history to compile all of those statistics in a single game.

Young, the No. 2 overall pick, was widely regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in recent memory coming out of Ohio State. And while he experienced some lulls in production earlier this season, he has reminded the masses of his game-wrecking ability during Washington's four-game winning streak. That's why with the regular season wrapping up, he's deserving of being the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"He's been great," head coach Ron Rivera said of Young following Washington's 23-15 win. "I'm just real happy for him, because again, he went through a lot of things in terms of just trying to get opportunities when he's been doubled and tripled a lot in the past, but he just stayed patient, kept doing his job and it came up big for us."

Chase Young 2020 Stats

Table inside Article
Games Tackles Tackles For Loss Sacks Forced Fumbles Fumble Recoveries Passes Defensed Touchdowns
13 35 8 5.5 3 1 3 1

Young would be the franchise's first Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year if he can beat out some stiff competition, which includes Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, Carolina Panthers linebacker Jeremy Chinn, Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Queen and Chinn are the leading tacklers for their respective teams, while Chinn has forced three turnovers and scored two touchdowns.

But if Young performs like he has the past four contests, he'll likely become the third Ohio State Buckeyes edge rusher to win the award, joining the Los Angeles Chargers' Joey Bosa (2016) and the 49ers' Nick Bosa (2019).

Young's dominant stretch began with a game-changing hit of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and it continued with two tackles for loss and a sack versus the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Against the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, his fourth-down stuff completed a goal line stand that set the tone for the rest of the game.

None of those performances compared to the 49ers game, though, when he looked like the best player on the field.

On one play, he dropped back into coverage, realized no one was coming into his zone, waited for the offensive tackle to turn his head inside and then flew into the backfield to engulf quarterback Nick Mullens. On another, he scraped across the line of scrimmage and walloped running back Jeff Wilson to force a fumble.

And on his fumble return, when he thought a 49ers player was going to hop on the ball -- it was actually linebacker Jon Bostic -- he scooped it up, stepped out of a tackle and, as his mother said after the game, trucked to the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown. Not only did Washington have a lead it would never relinquish, but Young seemed to cement himself as the Defensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

"Chase Young is everything we thought Jadeveon Clowney would be," former NFL safety and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark said on "Get Up!" the Monday after the game. "Chase Young is like Derrick Henry and the predator went into the lab, and they started working on both of them, and that's what came out of the lab."

Young does not have as many sacks or tackles for loss as the Bosas did in their rookie campaigns, but he's the only one between them who has scored a touchdown and has recorded the most turnovers forced and passes defensed. Young also has an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 80.6, the fourth-highest among rookie edge defenders since 2012.

With two games left, Young has emerged as one of NFL's biggest rookie playmakers. He deserves to be recognized as such.

"I feel like that's your goal for every player, every position, to be good in everything you do," Young said. "That's what I strive to do, and that's what I'm going to keep striving to do."


-- Washington's underappreciated defensive lineman: Jonathan Allen has just two sacks and three tackles for loss, but he's been one of the NFL's better defensive tackles this season. He ranks fifth at his position in pass-rush win rate, an ESPN metric that measures how often a player beats his blocker within 2.5 seconds. Since Week 9, his win rate is second behind perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald.

-- Washington's underappreciated offensive lineman: Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses have garnered deserved praise for their efforts so far in 2020, but their success seems to have overshadowed the excellence of center Chase Roullier. In his fourth NFL season, Roullier has the fifth-best PFF grade (77.2) and second-best run block win rate (77%) among centers.

"I will say the leadership in that group between Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses and Chase Roullier, those three guys -- they're veteran guys, they've been here a while, they've grasped what we're teaching, they've bought into what we're doing and they're helping to lead that group," Rivera said in late November. "I think that's been outstanding, I really do. Kudos to them as a unit."

-- Dustin Hopkins sets franchise record: With his 51-yarder in the second quarter Sunday, veteran kicker Dustin Hopkins became Washington's all-time leader in 50-plus-yard field goals with 13.

After struggling earlier in the season, Hopkins has made 10 of his 12 attempts during Washington's four-game winning streak.

"Sometimes you get into a little bit of a slump," Rivera said of Hopkins after the Steelers' game. "He worked his way out of it and he's been solid, he really has. And just really happy with what he did, again, working himself through his situation, and it was a tough field to kick off of today, too."

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