The preseason is over and we’re officially in Week 1 mode as the Washington Commanders prepare to host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, September 11th at 1pm at FedEx Field. Washington played 3 preseason games, and didn’t show much...of anything. Carson Wentz was the Commanders big offseason splash, and the national media is not impressed to say the least.
DraftKings has the Over/Under for Washington’s team win total at 8 this year, which would be a 1 game improvement on the typical Ron Rivera record in Washington. He has identified Year 3 as a critical year in the 5-year rebuild. There is a lot riding on Rivera’s bet that Carson Wentz is not only still a starting-level QB in this league, but that Dan Snyder was right and Washington finally has their QB.
Carson Wentz is with his third team in three years. That’s never a good thing. But the Commanders believe in him. Does anybody else?
Describe the QB situation in three words: Better than before.
Carson Wentz has issues — he can be inaccurate and make questionable decisions under duress. He has also been traded each of the past two offseasons. But Washington owns the NFL’s worst combined Total QBR over the past four seasons with 10 different starting quarterbacks. Wentz represents a solid upgrade and gives the Commanders potentially their best passing attack since they had Kirk Cousins in 2017. Wentz still has a strong arm and seems comfortable in Washington — he also has much to prove. — John Keim
Injury to watch: Chase Young, DE
Young tore his right ACL and MCL on Nov. 14 and will open the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. By rule, he’ll miss at least four games, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss a few more. How will that impact his play — and that of the defense — when he does return? When he’s rushing right, as he did in the second half of 2020, Young is a dynamic defensive playmaker, but one who needs to mature as a pass-rusher. The Commanders’ defense, under pressure after a poor season, will need his playmaking. — Keim
Most important discovery at camp: WR Curtis Samuel’s health.
Washington eased Samuel into training camp as the team wanted to be extra cautious about some hamstring tightness after a year in which soft-tissue injuries limited him to five ineffective games. But Samuel soon started practicing daily and looks like the player he was in Carolina two years ago, when he finished with 1,051 combined yards from scrimmage. He won’t be Washington’s top offensive threat, but his versatility and quickness underneath will impact their offense. — Keim
Fantasy breakout candidate: Jahan Dotson, WR
It is fair to say that Dotson had one of the best performances among offensive skill players during OTAs and minicamps, and that has continued into training camp and the preseason. Dotson will play a key role in the offense, finally giving Washington an outside receiver to complement Terry McLaurin. — Eric Moody
Over or under 7.5 wins? Over
Wentz is an upgrade at the QB position and has a lot of athletic and talented players around him to work with. Washington not only will have one of the easiest schedules this season, but its defense will face the fifth-easiest slate of offensive opponents (per offensive efficiency). — Anita Marks
Bold prediction for 2022: Defensive end Chase Young will register 12.5 sacks.
Young has the physical tools to be an elite edge-rusher. The former Ohio State standout will show more refinement and technique, racking up big sack numbers a year after suffering a right knee injury. — Bowen
For reasons both on and off the field, the vibes are bad in Washington. Carson Wentz is going to have some nice moments this year. But the bad plays are going out to outweigh the good. He is what he is at this point and he’s not going to change. Washington will be looking for a new quarterback after this season with Wentz playing his final season in the NFL.
The Wentz trade was a head-scratcher for Washington, to say the least. The Commanders swapped 2022 second-round picks, traded a 2022 third-round pick and a conditional 2023 third-round pick to Indianapolis to pay Wentz $28 million to replace Taylor Heinicke this season. Per rbsdm.com, Wentz ranked 21st in EPA per dropback and completion percentage over expected (CPOE) composite last season with the Colts, while Heinicke ranked 22nd. Wentz just isn’t the upgrade over Heinicke that they think he is, and the reports out of Commanders’ camp have not been great. Wentz completed just one pass of 10-plus yards downfield and notably struggled when he wasn’t operating outside of play-action concepts during the preseason. The bar is low for Wentz in Washington, and he’s struggling to clear even that out of the gate.
Thankfully Brian Robinson Jr. is doing OK after being shot in a robbery attempt. The rookie running back looked good before that. Another rookie who could be a surprise is Jahan Dotson, who hasn’t gotten as much buzz as you’d expect from a receiver taken No. 16 overall.
Hitching your wagon to a player that is being thrown out of his previous employer’s building after just one year as the answer at quarterback is a risky strategy, but that was Washington’s answer to a disappointing season in 2021. Carson Wentz ranked 23rd in the NFL last season in overall PFF grade and was at his worst in the crunch period of the season with the playoffs on the line. Washington will be hoping he is enough of an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke that it can return to the playoffs, but that may just be optimism at this point.
It’s been an eventful offseason in the nation’s capital—and not just because the Washington Commanders got a new nickname.
After tearing his ACL about halfway through the 2021 season, star edge-rusher Chase Young will miss at least the first four games of the season on the PUP list. So will rookie running back Brian Robinson, who won the early-down role in camp only to be placed on the reserve/non-football injury list after being shot twice during an armed robbery attempt.
Those are significant blows for the Commanders, but the team’s 2022 season still hinges on the one thing it was always going to hinge on—the play of quarterback Carson Wentz.
As a whole, Wentz played well for the Colts last year—over 3,500 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He faded badly down the stretch, but general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters he thinks Washington has its man under center.
“(After the team played) eight quarterbacks over two seasons, he has stabilized that position for us,” Mayhew said. “And we’re excited about what he brings to the table in terms of his physical talent and also what he brings to the table as a person, as a leader.”
If the Commanders are going to make the postseason for just the second time since 2015, Wentz isn’t the only player who needs to rebound. The Washington defense also needs to improve drastically after a disastrous 2021 campaign in which it ranked 25th in points per game allowed.
It’s Year 3 for Ron Rivera, and Washington still hasn’t won more than seven games in a season under his direction. Whether he breaks through may come down to if his staff can domesticate new quarterback Carson Wentz’s often erratic play.
This is Carson Wentz‘s last chance to be an NFL starter. Will that be enough to get him to stop being reckless with the ball?
More proof that football is back. pic.twitter.com/dxt5axm1l4— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 6, 2022
Points in poll: 65
Highest-place vote: 22 (1 vote)
Lowest-place vote: 29 (1 vote)
Week 1 opponent: vs. Jaguars
Carson Wentz returns to the NFC East, hoping to provide stability at the QB position for a team that hasn’t had much of it the last few years.
The Washington Commanders fired their defensive line coach, edge rusher Chase Young is missing the start of the NFL season and quarterback Carson Wentz had a lot of problems in training camp. Other than that, sure, everything is fine. There is a much higher chance Washington finishes as one of the worst teams in the NFL than of it making the playoffs.
Chase Young and Montez Sweat will try to pick up where they left off after suffering injuries last year. There are more question marks surrounding Washington’s offense with Antonio Gibson looking a step slower in training camp.
The Commanders haven’t wowed anyone offensively with serious concerns about Carson Wentz and Antonio Gibson in primary roles. Defensively, still waiting for impact from a healthy Chase Young is a big blow, given their pass rush and coverage limitations.
The Redskins traded for Carson Wentz. The problem is that he may not be better than Taylor Heinicke. He certainly has a higher ceiling, but he hasn’t been the same player since taking a concussion from Jadeveon Clowney. He’ll likely continue to YOLO throws into triple coverage and demoralize the team in the locker room. I don’t understand why the Redskins gave up a third-round pick for him while agreeing to pay his entire salary.
Mock rank: T-21 (8.2 wins)
The good news: The owner hasn’t been subpoenaed by Congress in days.
The bad news: Last year’s 22nd-ranked defense is missing its star pass rusher until at least Week 5, there’s a weird feud between the head coach and the now-default top running back and the famously scattershot quarterback has been described as wild all summer. At least the schedule is relatively easy.
Nugget to remember: Expect a lot of play action from this offense. The Commanders ranked second in the league in early-down play action in 2021, according to TruMedia, while Wentz’s Colts ranked third. Wentz’s yards per attempt jumped from 6.1 on plays without play action (27th in the league) to 8.5 on plays with play action (15th in the league).
Is it time to officially take command in Washington? OK, OK, fans of the Around The NFL Podcast know I just love to hear Carson Wentz rumble his way through a meticulously workshopped corporate branding slogan, but I don’t hate Wentz’s surrounding cast with the Commanders. Terry McLaurin is a certified No. 1 receiver. Curtis Samuel — after a season washed out by injuries — remains a versatile playmaker. Jahan Dotson, the team’s first-round pick, is a polished route runner who should make an instant impact. The offensive line is solid. The erratic Wentz’s ability to get the ball out accurately and on time will be vital to success, but the cupboard is far from bare on offense.
Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked going into the 2022-23 season?
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