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Washington fans uplifted by Week 1 result, but fans nationally aren’t yet convinced

Poll results!!

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Washington Commanders fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in email surveys on questions of league-wide interest as well.

This week we asked Hogs Haven members to answer 3 questions in the wake of the home victory over the Jaguars in Week 1.


Commanders fans

Unsurprisingly, the confidence level of Hogs Haven readers was buoyed from our pre-game poll, with the post-game result of 80% of fans being the highest of 2022. Previous results were 73% during the preseason and 55% ahead of the Jags game.

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NFC East rival fanbases

Inside the division, the Giants fan base was the only other one to increase following the Week 1 game; 96% of Big Blue View readers expressed confidence in the direction of the Giants organization, up from 92% before their surprising 1-point win over the Titans on Sunday.

Perhaps a bit surprising is the fact that Eagles’ fan confidence fell from 98% to 82% following the team’s road win against the Detroit Lions. I presume this is a matter of very high expectations being dashed on the rocks of the team having to work hard to win a game against an opponent in a game that many Philly fans thought would be an easy win.

There’s no surprise in the direction of Cowboys fan confidence, but perhaps in the depth to which it has plummeted. Only 5% of Blogging the Boys readers felt good about the direction of the franchise following the home loss in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the number was 48% prior to the game).

The biggest issue by the time fans were answering the post-game survey was probably the loss of Dak Prescott for perhaps 6 or 8 weeks due to an injury to his throwing hand, but, truth be told, Dallas fans should have been worried long before Dak walked to the sidelines holding his right hand.

After all, Dakota wasn’t injured till midway through the 4th quarter. Even with him on the field, the Cowboys offense was only able to put 3 points on the scoreboard, which they did on their opening drive. After the initial 5:58 of the game, the Cowboys were held scoreless, regardless of whether it was Prescott or Cooper Rush behind center.

The Cowboys were one of only 3 teams to produce less than 250 yards of offense in Week 1, and the ONLY team in the NFL that didn’t score a touchdown. Though the team had been getting a certain amount of bets that it would be playing in the Super Bowl this postseason, only 9% of the BtB readers surveyed this week believe that Dallas will even make the playoffs.

The last time Dak was injured (in 2020), his team had started slowly (2-3), and with him missing the balance of the season, the Cowboys finished 6-10, so, presumably, Dallas fans have the experience to understand what it’s like to try to compete without the starting quarterback, as Washington had to do for 16 games last season.

Commanders’ fans’ concerns

The second poll question this week asked which position group Commanders fans are most concerned about

I don’t think the results of the poll will surprise anyone.

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More than half the respondents cited linebacker as the major position of concern, while nearly a third identified the cornerback position. Collectively, the LB/CB positions of the Washington defense are seen as the thinnest and least complete part of the team, and the part of the roster that will create the most concern from week to week until they prove that they are better than fans think they are.

Consider some of the comments from readers who took part in the survey:

LBs are my biggest concern, closely followed by CBs. If either Holcomb or Jamin goes down, we’re screwed. CBs didn’t play their best this game, but there’s better depth there (at least better than at LB) I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on the assumption they’ll improve as the season progresses.

Depth is a problem in both areas, but at least we have some Safeties who could step in at CB in a pinch if need be. We don’t have that at LB.

I chose LB because the secondary has depth, at least, and the secondary play can be bolstered with a good pass rush. I didn’t think the LBs played poorly but they were pretty quiet on Sunday.

I put down Linebacker as my biggest concern, mainly on depth. I think we are average at the moment from our starters there. I noticed they went 2 LB’s on the field almost the whole game. I know Fuller is much better than he showed in game 1, he has my trust, and I like the depth of the safeties, especially with Kam coming back.

In that game [vs. Jacksonville] you could say the Corners but I think they’ll settle in and be fine, especially Fuller. I think the linebackers will stay the weak link.

While the poll this week didn’t ask about strengths, it was clear from watching the game and from comments on the poll article, that fans see the wide receiver position as the most talented on the field, with other positions like RB, TE and even QB seen as having excellent depth.

[I]t’s important to give credit to what seems to be working.

- O-Line: this group allowed one sack and no lineman allowed more than one pressure. Against a very athletic Jags front 7, that’s impressive.

- WR: This is the most talent group we’ve had in the 2000’s. The speed is just pure ridiculous.

- S: It seems like forever since we’ve been able to say this…but this is a VERY solid group with both youth and veteran experience.

… and last but not least

- QB: Carson is the best overall QB we’ve had here in a VERY LONG TIME! We also have a young rookie who we can bring along slowly and develop.

This WR group has the chance to rival the 80’s and early 90’s groups.

I believe they can be that good if CW and the O-Line can hold up just a little.

The Washington offense finished the week ranked 10th in total yards, 5th in passing yards, 2nd in passing touchdowns, and 6th in points scored.

Jahan Dotson won Offensive Rookie of the Week honors, and Antonio Gibson finished 14th in yards from scrimmage nestled between Cordarrelle Patterson and Ja’Marr Chase.

Among quarterbacks, Carson Wentz finished 5th in yards, 2nd in touchdowns, 3rd in touchdown percentage, and 6th in net yards per passing play. He was sacked only once, and had a quarterback rating of 101.0.

I think it’s fair to say that fans are excited about the potential for the Commanders offense, which has yet to see rookie running back Brian Robinson or rookie tight end Cole Turner take the field. It also seems fair to suggest that fans are nervous about the team’s defense, especially on the backend in pass coverage.


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Asked about the coaching in Week 1, Commanders fans were pretty positive, with 66% of fans giving the coaching staff a “B”, and 98% of those surveyed grading the coaches as “C” or higher.

I gave the coaching staff a “B” grade for the 1st game...I’m in the B+ (or A-) territory. The defense played better than I imagined. Some individual ugliness with tackling & some coverages, but I really don’t remember a full scheme breakdown. Offensively, we were a little slow to adapt to the JAG’s half time changes, but ultimately found some things that worked.

There did seem to be a bit of difference between how the Hogs Haven members viewed defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Turner brought out some excellent creativity in playcalling in the first quarter in particular, but it seemed like he got overly conservative once we had a lead. Defensively, I’ll give credit to JDR for solid 3rd down stop %, but I can’t discount the costly mistakes from the Jags that easily could have changed the narrative. B- if that were a choice.

C for [coaching] - B for the offense, D for the defense.

We needed a question to rate the OC and DC [separately]. Jack better get his act together.

Coaching C+, Defense drags the score down cause I give Offensive coaching an A.

JDR is responsible for getting the most from the players on D through scheme and the coaches he hires to get these players to perform at the highest level. The D has been undisciplined and too complicated since he got here. The D line under performed horribly last year, and we are not effective at stopping teams on third down. That’s on him entirely. Someone has to be accountable. JDR has to be accountable. I want to see marked improvement this year or a new D coordinator.

Jack Del Rio continues to be held in low esteem by Hogs Haven readers in general.

His defense ended the week ranked 20th in yards given up, 17th in points surrendered, 20th in passing yards by opponents, and 18th in rushing yards by opponents.

The team was missing Chase Young, who is on IR recovering from an ACL tear and who can’t return before Week 5, and strong safety Kam Curl, who injured his thumb in the 2nd preseason game. Curl may be ready to play as soon as this week against the Lions.

Second-year safety Darrick Forrest had a career game starting in place of Curl, tallying 4 tackles, a forced fumble and the game-sealing interception with about a minute to play.

Up front, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne in particular played really good football, but DE Montez Sweat led the league in pressures in Week 1, and Daniel Wise played well in relief of rookie 2nd round draft pick Phil Mathis, who was carted off with a knee injury that ended his rookie season after only 3 defensive snaps.

Looking ahead to Week 2

Judging by the comments I’ve read this week on both Hogs Haven and from Hogs Haven members who have visited the Pride of Detroit, the Lions SB Nation blog, I think most HH members (and by extension, most Washington fans) are confident about Week 2, though I don’t think anyone sees it as an automatic win after seeing how tough the Lions played the Eagles.

Fans nationally aren’t in agreement, picking the Lions to win. The betting lines are going that way too, with Draft Kings favoring the Lions by 1 point at home in Detroit.

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I suspect that there are some rational reasons and some irrational ones behind this sentiment. The Lions were terrible last year, but they used their good draft position to strengthen the team. I suspect the Lions are also benefiting from some Hard Knocks halo effect — it was easy to want to root for Dan Campbell and his crew after seeing them up close and personal on the HBO series. I know I’ll be rooting for them in most games of the regular season after Week 2.

Of course, Washington managed 4 more wins in 2021 than the Lions, despite playing a first-place schedule with a backup quarterback for virtually the entire season. Like Detroit, Washington has made its own upgrades this offsesaon, most notably with Carson Wentz at QB and Jahan Dotson at WR.

Carson Wentz at QB is, of course, part of the reason that fans nationally aren’t buying what head coach Ron Rivera is selling. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve read the line, ‘There’s a reason Carson Wentz is playing for his 3rd team in 3 seasons”. This lazy take (which never seems to identify what the reason is) ignores Wentz’s accomplishments. That will continue to be the national narrative, however, until “Cardiac” Carson has put up enough impressive performances and wins to get people to dismiss Jim Irsay for the rambling drunk that he appears to be and accept Washington’s new quarterback for the talented professional that he is.

I reckon I could do worse than taking the free point that DraftKings is giving and backing the Commanders, which is exactly what I did in this week’s picks (look for the article from Scott Jennings before Sunday’s games). I doubled down in the weekly picks by taking Washington on the moneyline bet (Picking Washington to win outright) which pays +105 on DraftKings, and I took the over on total points, which currently stands at 48.5 (the Lions and Commanders combined for 63 points in Week 1).

It should be an exciting weekend of football; hopefully we’ll be back here next week celebrating the team’s first 2-0 start in many years.