Just for a bit of something to do in the middle of June between OTAs and minicamp, I thought I’d take a crack at projecting the 2022 statistical output of Washington’s offensive skill players. I’m gonna take a top-down approach and avoid the kind of complex statistical analysis like standard deviations, that might go into, say, evaluating historical drafts. I won’t do anything but add, subtract, multiply and divide a few familiar numbers in this article. Think of this as a neighbor of yours sitting on a bar stool and spouting off semi-incoherently about what you can ‘take to the bank’ this season.
Let’s start with some macro-level history
As you can see, in 2020, Washington ran 1,001 plays in 16 games (62.56 avg), and in 2021, they ran 1,027 in 17 games (60.41). In 2020, the team ranked 8th in the NFL in plays per game; in ‘21 they ranked 17th.
To stick with fairly round numbers, I’m going to project 61 plays per game in 2022, which will result in 1,037 offensive snaps.
Clearly, the team ran the ball more often in 2021 (46%) vs. 2020 (40%). I’m a bit ambivalent about whether to expect the coaches to continue to be run-heavy (Ron clearly believed it was part of their “identity” and success in the middle of last season) or if they revert more to the 2020 form (traded for a big-armed QB and drafted a WR in the first round). I’m going to project 437 runs (42.14%), which is slightly less than the ‘21 season, leaving exactly 600 passing attempts, which is a nice round number. The resulting 57.86% figure for passing would have ranked 20th in the NFL a season ago.
So, here’s what I am projecting for Washington in 2022 from the macro perspective:
- 1,037 offensive snaps
- 437 rushing attempts (42.1%)
- 600 passing attempts (58.9%)
Carson Wentz played in a run heavy offense with the Colts last season — only 4 teams ran the ball more (Philadelphia ran the ball more often than any other team in 2021).
In 2020, the Eagles offense (led by Carson Wentz) was ranked 8th for the frequency with which they passed the ball (62% of the time). In 2019, when Carson played all 16 games in a relatively normal season, his Eagle’s offense passed the ball 58.8% of the time (20th in the NFL). That season, Carson averaged 252 yards per game. In 2018 & 2017, he averaged 279 and 253 yards respectively.
If we project 240 yards per game for Carson, over 17 games, that would be 4,080 yards.
That looks like a huge leap for Scott Turner’s offense, which has averaged around 210 yards per game over the past two seasons, but QB passing is a gross number, with sack numbers accounted for separately. Over his career, Wentz’s sack yards have been about 6.6% of his passing total. If we apply this, then his net yards per game would be 224 yards per game (240 yards x 93.3%). This 10.6% increase over the WFT 2021 offensive passing output seems achievable for a Scott Turner offense throwing the ball 3 times more per game than they did a year ago, with Wentz’s cannon vs. Heinicke’s shotgun. In 2021, this total would have ranked 15th in the NFL; in 2020, it would have ranked 24th.
This is a pretty key number that has fluctuated a bit in Carson’s career, but his averages are quite consistent.
- 2021 - 62.4%
- Eagles - 62.7%
- Career - 62.6%
How about Scott Turner’s 4-quarterbacks-per-season offense?
- 2021 - 64.7%
- 2020 - 64.7%
If I go with Wentz’s career percentage, that would mean 376 completions (600 x 62.6%), while Scott Turner’s percentage would predict 388 completions (600 x 64.7%). I’m going to lean towards system over player here, and project a 64% completion rate, assuming that Wentz is ready to buy into the Turner/Rivera ‘take the checkdown’ philosophy.
Also, 64% completion is consistent with Wentz’s 16-game 2019 season.
Average per attempt
The math here is easy:
- Projected yards - 4,080
- Projected attempts - 600
- Yards per attempt - 6.8
This is consistent with Wentz’s career average of 6.8 (and close to his 16-game 2019 season average of 6.7). Scott Turner’s offense averaged 6.8 yards per attempt in 2021 as well.
Here are the touchdown percentages for Scott Turner’s passing offense:
- 2021 - 3.82%
- 2020 - 2.26%
As you can see from the chart above, Carson’s career TD% of 4.7% was pumped up a bit by his strong percentage last season; however, that was actually Carson’s 2nd time averaging 5.2%, and he actually threw at a 7.5% clip in his career-best 2017 season.
The ‘middle of the pack’ number for Wentz was his 2019 campaign (16 games) when he had a 4.4% mark.
My point of view is that the team traded for Wentz for the same reason that they signed Fitzpatrick last year — Scott Turner wants to increase big plays. They want to throw downfield. With a run-heavy attack last year, Wentz had his 3rd-best TD% result in his 6 seasons.
I’m gonna go with Carson’s career number (which is very close to his 2019 number) of 4.5%.
The math here is, again, pretty easy:
- Projected pass attempts - 600
- Projected TD% - 4.5%
- Projected passing TDs - 27
This exactly matches Wentz’s output in the run-heavy Colts offense from last year, but represents a big uptick from Washington’s 16 & 21 passing TDs in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Carson Wentz’s only real outlier in his past 5 years was his crazy 3.4% INT rate in 2020. Otherwise, his range has been 1.2-1.7%, with an average of 1.4% last year.
A rate of 1.5% would result in exactly 9 interceptions. Since there’s no such thing as a “half” of an interception, this seems like the right rate to project.
Summary of Carson Wentz projections
- 600 pass attempts
- 384 completions (64%)
- 4,080 yards
- 6.8 yards per attempt
- 27 touchdowns
- 9 interceptions
Who is catching his passes?
Basically, we’ve got a crew of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs who will be the recipients of 600 targets, 384 completions, 4,080 yards, and 27 TDs.
Let’s allocate these totals.
Initially, I intended to have an “other” category in each (i.e., “Other WR”, “Other TE”, “Other RB”), and to allocate a certain number of catches, yards and TDs to those.
I found that the process of working top-down makes this tough. In trying to apply historical catch rates, yards-per-reception averages, etc with the goal of matching the receiver production to Carson Wentz’s projected production, there are a lot of moving parts. In the end, I got the totals close, then ‘tweaked’ them to get a perfect match to Carson’s numbers.
We all know that every projection is just that — a projection — and will be wrong no matter what, so I decided that allocating Carson’s passing numbers to these 9 players was “good enough”. You know and I know that Brian Robinson, Dax Milne and others will catch some passes, and that these 9 guys won’t all be healthy for the whole season (I have based Logan Thomas’s projections on the expectation that he will miss 4 or 5 games already).
So, that leaves the rushing attack
I’ve already decided (earlier in the article) that the team will have 437 rushing attempts this season. I will allocate them to the players below, apply some historic averages, and develop projections for yards and touchdowns.
Washington rushed for 1,600 yards and 18 TDs in 2020, and 2,061 and 13 TDs in 2021.
Here are my projections for 2022:
Projected Total Offensive Production in 2022
What am I projecting for Washington’s total production from their offensive skill positions?
I am projecting 5,920 yards and 45 touchdowns for the Commanders in 2022.
This compares to 5,500 yards last year, and 4,794 in 2020.
5,920 yards would have been 16th in the NFL last season — perhaps ironically, that position was held by the Colts, who put up 5,901 yards.
Washington scored 37 TDs in 2021 and 38 in the shorter 2020 season, so I see 45 TDs as the product of an improved offense, with more TDs in both the ground game and the passing game.
45 TDs would have been the 17th best in the NFL last year — basically, middle of the pack.
Average Offensive Scoring per game
To get average offensive scoring per game, we need to include field goals made. Over the past two seasons, Washington has averaged 1.6 successful field goals per game. This sets an expectation of 27 successful field goals in 2022.
- 45 TDs x 7 points = 315 points
- 27 FGs x 3 points = 81 points
- Total points = 396
- Points per game = 23.3
23.3 points per game would have ranked 16th in the league in 2021. While this seems a bit low for an offense that most fans expect to perform at a high level in 2022, I think that when you factor in Ron Rivera’s tendency to play ball control, field position and defense in an effort to win games, it’s a reasonable projection.
What did I get the most wrong in this article?
This poll is closed
Projecting Wentz’s passing numbers
Allocating the receiving stats
The rushing numbers
The scoring numbers
The whole thing is a dog’s breakfast, mate