With Jon Bostic officially on injured reserve with a pectoral muscle injury that will likely end his 2021 season, Washington's linebacker depth chart and snap counts are due for a shuffle.
Now, while Bostic has certainly been a liability for the Burgundy and Gold defense all year, there's something fans need to at least keep in mind when it comes to that piece of the defense moving forward.
Despite Bostic's obvious struggles in pass coverage and his frustrating missed tackles (an issue that was especially noticeable against Atlanta), Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio continued to start him and give him reps over others, most notably rookie Jamin Davis.
Now, why'd they insist on doing that?
It's not because Bostic is one of "their guys." He signed with the franchise when it was being run by the previous regime, and while he did ink a new contract after Rivera and his crew took over, he was by no means a high priority on their list.
It's not because Bostic is making a ton of cash, either. Sometimes, a staff will keep a slumping player in the lineup because he's near the top of the club's payroll and they want to justify the franchise's investment in him. Bostic, however, doesn't fall into that category at all.
So, a likely explanation for Bostic's consistent involvement is also perhaps the most worrisome one: He was the coaches' most appealing option.
Behind Bostic — and aside from Davis and Cole Holcomb, the two other linebackers who've seen regular action thus far — there's second-year pro Khaleke Hudson and then a trio of guys who are more known for their special teams work than their defensive contributions in David Mayo, Jared Norris and Jordan Kunaszyk. Kunaszyk was elevated to the active roster on Tuesday.
In his Monday press conference, Rivera indicated that Davis — who's been on the field for about 48% of the defense's plays — is set for an uptick in duties with Bostic sidelined. Rivera also believes Hudson has an opportunity to step up and do things that "might be up his alley," especially when it comes to dropping back and assisting in coverage.
The thing is, Rivera could've unleashed Davis more or subbed in Hudson before Bostic's trip to IR, yet he didn't. That's telling and should stand out to those who are simply assuming things are going to improve with a different rotation.
The same could be said if Washington picks up a free agent for further reinforcements, which is something that's no doubt possible. That's an avenue the organization could've already explored, but by not doing so, it essentially admitted that Bostic was their best hope.
Maybe Davis, a first-rounder with really good physical traits, has a breakthrough with his newfound role. Or maybe Hudson injects a little life into the group with his youth and quickness. Or maybe Washington snags an available veteran who proves to be an effective find.
Just remember, though, that Washington saw Bostic's shortcomings in three contests this season and all of 2020 but still trusted him more than his peers on the roster and the open market as of last Sunday. Things might be about to get worse, and not better, at linebacker.