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Joe Whitt Jr. spent over 15 years coaching in various roles at the NFL level and now gets his first opportunity as defensive coordinator with the Washington Commanders, succeeding head coach Dan Quinn of the Dallas Cowboys. Quinn is a defensive-minded head coach, so he will likely be the head of that snake, but Whitt Jr. will also be able to provide input and learn from Quinn before eventually becoming a full-time DC.

Quinn and Whitt Jr. have a lot of work ahead of them, as they will be coaching a completely different defense than the one Washington had at the end of last season.

READ MORE: Coach Quinn and QB Jayden Daniels in the ranking

Free agent signees Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr., Clelin Ferrell, Frankie Luvu, Bobby Wagner, Anthony Pittman, Jeremy Chinn and Michael Davis will all play key roles in this revamped defense. Joining the effort will be players like Jer’Zhan Newton and Mike Sainristil, who were drafted in the NFL last April.

Speaking to the media after Wednesday’s OTA practice, Whitt Jr. talked about his first impressions of the Commanders’ defense.

“Man, they’ve done a really good job,” the coach said of his unit. “Just the energy, the enthusiasm for what we’re doing, the way they get involved, the way they compete. It’s fun, man. Both sides of the ball. It’s not just defense, it’s both sides of the ball. Everybody out there really goes at each other, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the only way we’re going to get better.”

It should be exciting to see this group learn from each other and play side by side. A new energy was urgently needed in the DMV and it seems as if this is coming through early in training on both sides of the ball.

Whitt Jr. further examined his defense and talked about how exciting it was to see the defense take shape so early.

“No, it’s fun. That’s the players’ game, okay. And you’ll hear me talk about how I feed the players and that we’re going to work out our defense, not that we work out our defense around the players that we have,” he continued. “I think when you boil it down to saying, hey, we have a scheme and that’s all we have, and no, you have the players you have and you make sure you put them in the best position to play high-level football. And we have really good players and I look forward to coming here every day and figuring out how to best utilize them. And one thing I wanted to say too: We don’t have 11 starters. OK? You’re going to write that down, so don’t ask me who’s starting here. We have 17 to 18 guys. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to put a big team and go out there and beat people up, OK? So, we don’t have 11 guys, we have a lot of personnel groups and can hold those positions now if we put them there. So when the time comes, please don’t ask me who’s starting.”

It could pay off to let the players dictate how you run your defense. I’ve always been a proponent of letting the players dictate what they do because that puts the team in the best position possible for success and that’s exactly what Whitt Jr. is doing and will be doing. He then came clean to the media and said that people shouldn’t ask him who’s starting and who’s not because he feels like they almost have two playmakers at every position depending on what personnel they put on the field.

Here’s how to deal with it. Make it clear from the start that you have your guys and put them in the best position to wreak havoc on the opposing offense. It doesn’t matter who’s a starter and who’s not, because at the end of the day it takes a collective effort to put a good product on the field – something the Commanders failed to do last season.

Things are changing in the Washington, DC area, and it seems they’re on the right track early on.

READ MORE: Head coach Dan Quinn talks about Emmanuel Forbes

Stay at CommanderGameday and that Commanders in the crosshairs Podcast for further coverage of the Washington Commanders during the 2024 season.

Follow Caleb on twitter.

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