What a game - and what a Roller Coaster THRILL RIDE this was!
As is typical with most NFL contests, this matchup had its share of ups and downs. Fortunately for the Commanders, the ups outweighed the downs when it mattered most and the home team came away with a key opening day win to usher in a new era of Washington Commanders Football.
Although Washington came out with a victory, they also came away with more questions than answers and may be looking at some significant injuries to boot. Nonetheless, a win is a win and fans should savor these.
Below are my Studs and Duds of the game followed by some notes.
Jahan Dotson - The rookie hauled in three receptions for 40 yards and two touchdowns - none bigger than the amazing catch he made in the left side of the endzone to give the Commanders the lead for good. It was a heck of a start to the youngster’s career.
Curtis Samuel - Despite a costly fumble towards the end of the second quarter on a run, Samuel really rose to the occasion to the tune of eight receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. He chipped in 17 rushing yards on four carries. What was most exciting is to see exactly how this staff plans to deploy him all over the offense.
Antonio Gibson - With no Brian Robinson, Gibson was the workhouse on the afternoon, both as a ball carrier and a receiver out of the backfield. He had 58 rushing yards on 14 carries and caught seven passes for 72 yards (both team highs). Most importantly, he held onto the football!
Daron Payne - Payne was a BIG pain for the Jaguars offensive line Sunday afternoon. He was credited with 3 tackles (two of which were stuffs), a sack and a tackle for a loss. He also batted down two passes and had three pressures.
Darrick Forrest - Playing in place of the injured Kam Curl, Forrest showed up and showed out against the Jags. He finished second on the team in tackles with five, had a forced fumble, two passes defended (including a key 2-point conversion attempt), and ended the game with an interception.
Carson Wentz - I truly went back and forth on this one, but in the end, Wentz was why we won this game. He had two interceptions, but he stayed poised and came through when we needed him most in the fourth quarter. The deep ball to Terry down the right sideline was a perfectly thrown ball (and one we wouldn’t have seen made last season). Wentz threw the ball 41 times, completing 27 of those for 313 yards and four touchdown with two interceptions. He also added 12 yards on the ground and was sacked just once.
Scott Turner - I’ve been saying all offseason that this is the year we really get to see the true Scott Turner offense; one that is not limited by the quarterback. This group came out hot, and remained so until the Jags defense made some adjustments. Then, when the game was on the line, the offense came through yet again to secure the W! What we saw was guys moved all over the formations to create mismatches. We saw Samuel used in a hybrid role and Gibson functioning as a WEAPON out of the backfield.
Turner’s offense put up 390 yards and scored 28 points (all touchdowns). They went 7-10 on third down (a MASSIVE improvement from last year), and controlled time of possession. I imagine this offense will only get better as the season continues.
Kendall Fuller - Fuller had a VERY rough afternoon, committing multiple penalties in the secondary and getting beat by the Jags receivers with regularity. I counted at least two key missed tackles by the veteran CB.
Cole Holcomb - Holcomb had a tough game. He was beaten by Robinson for a touchdown pass in the flat, and also missed a tackle that allowed Robinson to score on a run. He was fooled so badly on a Etienne run in the second quarter, that he ran in the complete opposite direct of the play (actually ran himself right off the TV screen).
- It’s hard for me to keep Terry McLaurin off the Studs list, as his 49 yard touchdown catch on a perfectly thrown ball from Wentz was key to this victory. He had two receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on the day.
- Jon Allen could have easily found himself on the Studs list as well, as he came in and was his usual disruptive self before leaving later in the game with an injury.
- You may not see Montez Sweat stuffing the stat sheet this game, but make no mistake - he made his presence felt! He got multiple pressures on Lawrence and had two tipped passes. It was his pressure that caused the interception by Forrest to seal the game.
- Jamin Davis had some good moments but also struggled a bit in coverage. However, I don’t know a LB in the NFL who can cover Christian Kirk one-on-one in space. He did have a sack wiped out due to an illegal contact penalty by Fuller.
- It was great to see Logan Thomas back in action, and his big first down catch on the final drive of the game was huge. I expect to see his production increase and he and Wentz get more comfortable with each other.
- I thought the offensive line did a real nice job this game. There were a few gaffes, but overall, the unit played well.
- Bates had a few decent blocks, but also dropped a would-be first down on a third and medium. The throw went right through his hands.