Howell and the Commanders are on a record-setting pace: The most sacks any team has surrendered in a season is the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986 with 104. Washington is on pace to allow 107.7, albeit with one more game than Philly. Meanwhile, David Carr holds the NFL record when he was sacked 76 times when he was with the Houston Texans.
“You’ve got to learn from it,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said of Howell. “If you don’t learn from it, it’s going to happen again.
“He’s trying to make plays and sometimes it’s just dumping the ball and getting rid of it or throwing it away. I think that’s part of his growth period.”
They can’t afford for it to happen at Philadelphia on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox). In 2022, the Eagles sacked then-starter Carson Wentz nine times in a 24-8 win. But the Eagles have only six sacks thus far. They also rank 25th in number of quarterback hits as well as pressure percentage. However, the Eagles have a collection of good defensive linemen capable of pressuring Howell. Rookie Jalen Carter is second among defensive tackles with 15 pressures.
Gore, an undrafted free agent in 2019 out of Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe and Coffeyville Community College, has spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints practice squads. Gore also signed with Washington as a member of the practice squad in 2019.
After being waived as part of final roster cuts in 2021 and re-signing to the Chiefs’ practice squad, Gore was elevated to the active roster and made his debut against Washington in Week 6. Gore played in 11 games that season, mostly as a special teams contributor, but he did rush for 256 yards and two touchdowns on 51 attempts. He also caught eight passes for 105 yards.
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera thinks Sam Howell will bounce back Sunday.
Friday, during his press conference, he was asked regarding Howell after a tough game going to play in a tough environment in Philadelphia.
Buy Commanders TicketsRivera responded, “I think we can expect him to go out and play well, give us his best, and do the things he needs to do to give us the best chance to win.”
Obviously, Washington’s offense is not experiencing a challenge only because Howell is a young quarterback. Rivera was also asked about the offensive line having personnel changes, and the entire offense is designed by a new offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy.
Rivera talked of how the truth is the unit “will take steps forward and steps backward.” There is no simplistic, exact answer to when the unit will suddenly become successful.
Thus far, after three games, the Commander offense is tied for 19th in the league in scoring (58), averaging 19.3 points a game. They are only 23rd in yards gained (866). As for yards per play, they are 21st, averaging 4.8.
The Washington Commanders’ offense has been through a host of changes, and head coach Ron Rivera isn’t putting a timeline on when he wants things to start clicking.
For Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, he doesn’t think it’s fair to put a timetable on when things between Howell and Bieniemy should start to click.
“The truth of the matter is there really isn’t a timetable,” Rivera said. “You work the things that you’re doing, you practice them, you get better at them, you continue to work, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have moments where you’re going to sit in there, go, oh, we’ve arrived. You have moments where you say, damn, we just took a step backwards. To say when you’re going to get there, that’s not fair.”
Forbes has participated in 57% of Washington’s defensive snaps.
According to Pro Football Reference, opposing quarterbacks have a 61.1 rating when throwing in Forbes’s direction. That’s excellent. Of course, it doesn’t tell the entire story. Quarterbacks have completed six of 12 passes against Forbes, again, a good number. But those six receptions have totaled 158 yards, an average of over 26 yards per reception.
“I think in watching him and some of the things that he does, I think he’s got to continue to work on his technique and really be even better with it,” Rivera said Wednesday.
“He’s got a tremendous skill set. He’s got great quicks, he’s got a great plant and drive. Sometimes his footwork, his body positions, he can be better at it. He really can. He’s such a young player, and I just think it’s about him refining the technique that he’s going to use and he’s going to play with.”
DC Sports King
The Andrew Wylie problem
The Commanders trailed 16-0 at halftime but opened the third quarter with an impressive drive that got into the red zone. Washington marched 68 yards to the Bills’ 15-yard line. Then, on play ten, disaster struck.
Buffalo’s defense dropped into a Cover 3. Howell had his eyes on Curtis Samuel against cornerback Tre’Davious White in a zone match. Defensive end Greg Rosseau beat Commanders right tackle Andrew Wylie with an in-and-out juke to get his hands up in the face of Howell as the QB released another high-arc pass. White highpointed the throw over Samuel for the interception in the end zone.
There was no throw to make, as everyone was blanketed, including Gibson in the flat.
The Commanders’ defense got the football back with a Kendall Fuller interception. But Washington’s offense imploded with another series, allowing back-to-back sacks by Bills edge rusher Leonard Floyd.
On the first of Floyd’s sacks, Howell called out the protection on Bernard blitzing from the linebacker spot. Gibson scanned through and picked the block up. Howell alertly took off through the gap available. However, Wylie did not hold his block on Floyd, who chased down Howell behind the line of scrimmage.
On the very next snap, Floyd beat Wylie untouched with a speed rush off the edge to sack Howell. The motion by tight end John Bates didn’t deter Floyd’s rush off the edge.
While the offensive line shouldn’t get all the blame, it’s pretty evident the weakest link along the line in pass blocking is right tackle Andrew Wylie. Washington signed the veteran from the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. Wylie’s signing kicked Sam Cosmi from tackle to guard.
Cosmi has been a good fit at right guard. However, it’s hard to remember Cosmi struggling at right tackle as much as Wylie has through three games.
Sam Howell’s most egregious mistake
The dagger in the game came on Howell’s most egregious play of the day. Down 23-0, needing something positive in the fourth quarter. Howell put an end to Washington’s day with a huge mistake that resulted in a Buffalo Bills pick-six.
On 3rd-and-5 from Washington’s 30, Howell took the snap out of the shotgun. Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson runs a crosser ahead of the Bills sinking second-level defense. The throw should be there about a yard short of the first down. With the Bills’ defense backpedaling, an on-time throw allows Dotson to turn up for the first down.
During that play, Gibson runs clean in the flat with no Bills defense without eight yards of him. A dump down to the RB gives him a chance to get to the sideline and the first down marker.
Instead, Howell holds the ball and reads Dotson across the formation. There is no pressure from the Bills front, as the Commanders’ offensive line is holding up well. Howell breaks through the contain with his legs. Just when Epenesa drops down, Howell tries to lob a pass to Dotson. By then Dotson is in a bracket of three defenders.
Epensa leaps and snags the football before going 28 yards to the end zone for the Bills touchdown.
Washington Post (paywall)
First-quarter scoring differentials
The Commanders’ slow starts have been a problem for years, and this season is no different; they have trailed at halftime in every game. The defense and running game sparked turnarounds against the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, but Washington’s poor play snowballed against the Bills.
Through three games, Washington has the second-worst first-quarter scoring margin: minus-17. The Eagles, meanwhile, have the league’s best first-quarter scoring margin: plus-22. Philadelphia has held all three of its opponents scoreless in the opening quarter.
McLaurin’s 230 receiving yards
Terry McLaurin has been targeted only 16 times this season, far fewer than most leading receivers in the NFL. But his battles against the Eagles — and in particular against cornerback Darius Slay — have made for prime viewing.
In his past two meetings with the Eagles, McLaurin has totaled 14 catches for 230 receiving yards. If he tops 100 yards again, it should bode well for the Commanders; since the start of 2021, they’re 5-2-1 in games in which he has hit triple digits.
26 points off takeaways
The Eagles are the only team with multiple takeaways in each of their first three games, and they have eight on the season, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the second most in the league. (Only the Bills, with nine, have more.) Philadelphia has capitalized greatly, scoring 26 points off takeaways. Washington, however, has paid dearly for its turnovers; opponents have scored 27 points off them. Only one team, the Broncos, has allowed its opponents more points off turnovers.
Securing the ball will be key for the Commanders on Sunday. Since the start of 2021, they have gone 8-3 when they have won the turnover battle.
Giving you the best bets to score a touchdown for the Commanders in their Week 4 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles will open their NFC East schedules this season with a game against each other in Week 4.
Today, we’re talking touchdown scorers as we look through the odds list to find who is a good bet to find the end zone.
Brian Robinson has been a work horse for the Commanders so far this season. He has racked up 216 yards on 47 carries and three total touchdowns. No other player on the team has more than seven carries, so Robinson is the clear No. 1 option when it comes to the run game.
That alone makes him a great bet to find the end zone at +155 odds.
Terry McLaurin has the most receptions on the team with 13, but he’s tied for the most targets alongside Jahan Dotson with 16. That means Dotson presents plenty of value from a betting perspective to find the end zone.
It’s also worth noting the Eagles secondary is vulnerable, allowing 6.4 yards per pass attempt this season, which ranks 18th in the NFL through the first three weeks. He’s a great bet to score at +300.
Podcasts & videos
Linebackers Set the Tone | The Player’s Club with Jamin Davis | Washington Commanders
Brian Baldinger on how the Commanders can bounce back against Eagles with Craig Hoffman
Kevin talks #Commanders-#Eagles and gives out his picks. @Coach_JayGruden joins to discuss Sam Howell and Eric Bieniemy among other topics. Reuben Frank calls in to discuss the early-season start for the #Eagles.https://t.co/YvMjMWFEUJ— The Kevin Sheehan Show (@SheehanPodcast) September 29, 2023
New ️ #HTTC @LetMualTellit @SaintWah @DCSportsDre preview the Commanders-Eagles matchup. How can Sam Howell & Eric Bieniemy bounce back?— Trap or Dive Podcast (@TraporDive) September 29, 2023
Also keys to a Commanders win + game predictions.
️This week on the "Standig Room Only" podcast:— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) September 29, 2023
* Commanders' recovery plans, Sam Howell things, Logan Thomas, Emmanuel Forbes, THE key matchup and Philly preview w/ @EaglesXOs https://t.co/Szd2xJ82qM
* @AlGaldi https://t.co/33GisbLEqL
* @granthpaulsen https://t.co/ajXb9wz4yX
Take a look back at the previous matchups between the Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles. (Photos via The Associated Press)
To get the lowdown on the Eagles, we sat down with Eagles Wire managing editor Glenn Erby. https://t.co/fWjp8zV7xq— Commanders Wire (@Washington_Wire) October 1, 2023
NFC East links
Bleeding Green Nation
Commanders fans are well aware of the challenge presented in front of second-year quarterback Sam Howell and Washington’s offensive line going up against the Eagles’ dominant defensive front.
On Eye On The Enemy episode 164 for BGN Radio, Hogs Haven analyst Jamual Forrest expressed the lingering concerns he has with Sam Howell and the offensive line.
“The honest way to say it is they have some work to do, that’s the most simplistic way to say it. Sam Howell is a young quarterback going into game five of his career, and I think one of his issues dating back to college is he has an issue with holding on to the football and he gets himself into some situations.”
Bleeding Green Nation
This offense is very interesting. It’s a shotgun spread offense with a heavy dose of RPOs and motion. The zone running game has been very successful for Washington this year, and unlike in previous years, they won’t run into stacked boxes.
If the Eagles want to go 12 personnel and run the ball a lot, is Washington going to stay in nickel? This suggests they will. Washington has played a lot of Dime this year, so I wonder if we will see a few 3rd and medium runs to try and catch them out. They also play a lot of two-high shells and don’t stack the box too often, so I’m predicting that the Eagles will probably try it run it a lot this week.
NFL league links
Washington Post (paywall)
Bert Bell, the commissioner who branded NFL parity with his “On any given Sunday” slogan, surely didn’t mean it like this: The Denver Broncos, winless and disoriented after a 50-point loss last week, are favored to go on the road and beat the Chicago Bears, who also cannot shake an addiction to defeat. That’s a sad kind of unpredictability. On this given Sunday, it would be merciful if the NFL took this game back.
The league won’t, of course, because it could persuade a restless person to attend a traffic-watching party. But Week 4 is a deadbeat doozy. The Minnesota Vikings (0-3) visit the Carolina Panthers (0-3), and that’s just the undercard of futility. The Broncos and Bears are also 0-3, but they’re in a special category of failure. Denver is coming off a historic 70-20 loss at Miami. In front of Taylor Swift and everyone, Chicago trailed the Kansas City Chiefs 41-0 before scoring 10 late points.
To illustrate how awful both teams were, no matchup in NFL history has featured two teams that gave up more than the 111 combined points they allowed in Week 3. They tied this particular record for terrible performance. So they couldn’t even win misery outright.