As the Commanders get ready to take on their second AFC South opponent of the season Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, let’s take a look at this week’s featured player.
Alabama-product Daron Payne finds himself in a big contract year. His counterpart Jonathan Allen got his big pay-day last year, now it’s time for Payne to get his. He will need to show the Commanders that he and Allen are among the best defensive tackle tandems in the league, and will need a great season to go along with that.
So far he is off to a hot start and on pace to land his huge payday soon. Let’s take a look at how he has been playing so far in his “pay-me” year.
Daron Payne: Week One
The season started with Payne’s jersey being placed in the NFL Hall of Fame, as the NFL immortalized the Commanders’ inaugural game.
The Commanders started their new campaign with a clutch win over the new-and-improved Jacksonville Jaguars. He started the season with three combined tackles, a sack, and a tackle for a loss. He also had three quarterback hits and two passes defended, as he has made it a point to have his presence felt and bring the “Payne,” even if he can’t get home to the quarterback. That goes a long way when trying to become a premier defensive tackle in this league.
Payne backed up his strong Week One performance with another solid performance in Week Two against the Lions. He had four combined tackles, including another tackle for loss and another sack, as well as two quarterback hits.
Daron Payne dominating the RG. Him in that loose 3T alignment is a problem. pic.twitter.com/HEVjNGfb5N — Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 23, 2022
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By now, everyone knows Payne means business this year, and opposing offensive lines won’t just be able to key in on fellow ‘Roll Tide’ product, Jonathan Allen. So you think they would do something by now to slow his hot start, right? WRONG.
Payne did not record a sack in this game, but he did get a timely safety (first in his career) as he tried to spark a Commanders comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Daron Payne against a TE is a huge mismatch. Payne made the most of it to penetrate into the backfield and make the tackle for a safety pic.twitter.com/AOoa5FQKEH — Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) September 25, 2022
He also recorded three tackles, including that big tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit. Not only that, but he led the team in quarterback pressures and hurries, with four and three, respectively.
Commanders pass rushing numbers from yesterday. Quiet day for Montez Sweat. Another strong outing from Daron Payne. pic.twitter.com/gCpoclZ4ZH — Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) September 26, 2022
At this point, Payne is a certified problem. If the season prematurely ended today, he would be among the top five defensive tackles in pass rush win rate. That’s huge considering the fact he has taken some double teams away from Allen and has taken on some more on his own.
Double team rate at defensive tackle (x) by pass rush win rate at defensive tackle (y), updated through Week 3. -Even after a bit of a down week, Aaron Donald is still aaaaallllll alone. -Curious to see if that larger second tier continues. Has been small group in past. pic.twitter.com/egic9D4yLi — Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 29, 2022
Payne had another solid outing this past Sunday against the Cowboys, as he continues his contract-year cam-“Payne” (last pun, completely promise).
He had a season-high of five tackles, despite not being able to get to the QB this game.
At this rate, he would no doubt find himself signing a long-term extension to keep him paired up with Allen for years to come. Look for Daron to continue his strong start, as he wants to make sure the Commanders will be “Payne” him some big bucks this offseason (sorry, couldn’t pass this last one up).