Here at Hogs Haven and SB Nation, we poll fans weekly to ‘take the temperature’ of the fan base with the question: “How confident are you in the direction of the Washington Commanders?”
Unsurprisingly, after falling to 1-4 with last week’s loss to the Titans in a game they had a very good chance to win in the closing seconds, fan confidence fell to just 8%.
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That survey was completed ahead of the Thursday Night Football game that saw the Commanders limp to a 12-7 victory over the Bears in a game where the Bears statistically outperformed Washington in nearly every area except for sacks, turnovers and points.
This was an ugly contest by both teams that saw only 19 total points scored, and one in which Bears quarterback was both the leading passer and the leading rusher for both teams. The Commanders offense mustered a mere 99 passing yards, with no running back gaining more than 60 yards.
The win was much needed. The Commanders are in last place in the NFC East, which currently features the undefeated Eagles at the top of the division, closely followed by the Cowboys and Giants, both at 4-1. Collectively, through 5 weeks, the NFC East has more wins, and more importantly, more non-division wins than any other division in football.
The Commanders did their part to pump up those totals on Thursday night, but with the Cowboys and Eagles playing each other on Sunday Night Football, Washington fans will be hoping that the Giants fail to do the same when they host the Ravens on Sunday afternoon.
With a little luck, the Commanders could find themselves just 2 games back of the Giants (and possibly the Cowboys) and facing a long week to prepare to play the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have won the last two regular season games, both played at Lambeau Field, but Green Bay has not beaten Washington at FedEx Field in a regular season game since 2004; since that time, Washington is 3-0 at home in the regular season against the Pack.
The most recent team to beat the Packers was the Giants, who beat Green Bay in London last Sunday. Their fans (New York, that is) currently lead the league in confidence at 99% following that win. The Eagles and Cowboys fans sit at 94% and 92% respectively, not quite up to the level of Giants supporters despite having a combined 9-1 record for the two teams through 5 weeks.
Washington needs the long break to get some players healthy. Logan Thomas, Jahan Dotson, Sam Cosmi, Percy Butler and backup running back Jonathan Williams were all inactive against the Bears due to injury.
During the game, Carson Wentz appeared to hurt his throwing hand, and he was seen getting his ankle taped on the sideline. Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, among others had to miss plays due to getting dinged up.
One player who got in the game against the Bears and made a difference was center Tyler Larsen, who replaced Nick Martin as the starter in the middle. While the Commanders offensive line didn’t suddenly look like a group of all-pros, they looked better than they had since, probably, Week 1. The starting lineup of Charles Leno, Andrew Norwell, Larsen, Saahdiq Charles, and Cornelius Lucas played the full 57 snaps together, and by the end of the game seemed to be opening up holes for Washington’s running backs against an admittedly undistinguished run defense for Chicago.
Washington will be hoping for some reinforcements as mid-season approaches. Chase Young is expected to make his return, possibly as early as Week 8 for Carson Wentz’s return to Indianapolis; RG Wes Schweitzer should be eligible to return from IR for that game as well, having been put on the reserve list on 1 October.
Commanders fans can have a stress-free Sunday this week with a victory already in the books, knowing that either the Cowboys or Eagles will pick up a loss and get one game closer in the standings. Meanwhile, they can also feel good about rooting for the neighboring Ravens to hang a loss on the Giants.
So, enjoy a Victory Weekend; there haven’t been enough in recent years.