When the Washington Commanders are discussed, it is usually mentioned as a potentially dominant defense and a sub-par to mediocre offense. This reputation is based on the 2020 season, the four 1st round defensive linemen, led by Pro Bowler Jonathan Allen and #2 pick Chase Young. So the reputation is understandable.
Both sides endured extensive injuries last season. The starting QB, Fitzpatrick, was lost in the first half of the first game. That by itself, makes Washington one of the teams most affected by injuries. How many of the playoff teams would have still made the playoffs if they lost their starting QB for over 16.5 games? The Rams? Bengals? Cowboys? Haha, yeah right! The Cowboys would’ve been a 5 win team without Dak Prescott. Then consider all the games played without Logan Thomas, Chase Young, Sweat, Samuel, Roullier, Cosmi and many others. Then add in the late stretch of games when COVID protocols forced half the team to be quarantined. It’s amazing the team won 7 games vs one of the toughest schedules in the league.
So let’s evaluate the offense and defense going into the 2022 season. The defense lost depth at DT, but did draft P. Mathis in the 2nd round. They lost some depth by cutting Collins, but did draft another in the 4th round, P. Butler. So the defense hasn’t added depth, but you could argue they haven’t lost depth either. We hope they play better mostly because they will get Young and Sweat back and they corrected many of their coverage issues down the stretch. I personally believe Jamin Davis will show improvement this season also. If they build on those corrections and regain their excellent pass rush, they could be good.
Now let’s consider the offense. Despite all the injuries last year and Heineke being thrown to the wolves from day one, they finished 7-10. Even Heineke missed some time and at one point we had a 4th string QB and some 4th and 5th string players starting games. By the way, 4th and 5th string means players they signed off the street a couple days before the game.
So, during the off-season the offense has improved depth and added skill at every position. At QB, we not only added Wentz, but also a promising rookie from the draft, S. Howell. We still have Heineke who has the benefit of a full season in this offense. That’s more quality and depth at QB than I can remember this team having in over 10 years! At RB we re-signed Mckissic and drafted Robinson in the 3rd round. Gibson really showed some improvement last season and was dominant at times. Now, we can expect even better production in the running game because Robinson brings a physicality that will compliment Gibson and provide much needed depth. At WR we added Dotson, our first round pick, but really we’re adding Curtis Samuel also. He missed most of last season and even when he played he was never really healthy. At TE we are getting Logan Thomas back, but if he misses games, we have added rookie Cole Turner to pair with John Bates, who proved to be a solid player last season. In addition, there are two unproven projects at TE, either of which could become a factor. Sammie Reyes and A. Gandy-Golden are both very athletic prospects and could surprise us and become factors in the passing game. The nice part is we aren’t counting on them for anything specific, but they are competing for the 4th TE spot so if either provides anything significant, it’s a plus.
The offensive line lost its best player, Scherff. However, we got used to Scherff missing games to injury every year. In his absence, Sweitzer played well last season. The team let LG Flowers go and replaced him with an Norwell. Norwell could be an improvement. The team then added Trai Turner to compete with Sweitzer to replace Scherff at the RG spot. They added Chris Paul in the draft also and there’s reasons to be excited about his skill set. This year he will most likely play guard behind Norwell, Turner, Sweitzer and Charles. Good depth, right? Tackle is pretty solid as well. Leno is back. Cosmi improved during his rookie season and there’s depth with solid swing tackle C. Lucas. Several of the guards have experience at tackle also.
Overall, the offensive line is at least as good as last year, even losing Scherff, because Scherff missed 4-5 games every year and we have 3-4 solid guards ready to do battle with the NFL and injuries.
The offense has improved depth and quality at almost every position! When you factor in Wentz, his strong passing arm, McLaurin, Samuels, Dotson (and maybe Dyami Brown and Cam Sims too) you can expect to see some deep passes and long touchdowns which we almost never even attempted last year. That opens up the running game for what should be an improved running game. It opens up the middle and underneath routes for what should be an improved TE group.
on Top of all those improvements, we should have an easier schedule than last year. Odds are that we will have fewer injuries than last year. I believe this team has potential to surprise the NFL this year and the offense will be a top 10 offense. My prediction is a 10-7 record, a playoff appearance and the offense ranks higher than the defense at the end of the season.