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Daily Slop - 13 Nov 23 - The epitaph for the Ron Rivera era: ‘we graduated from train-wreck football’ to become ‘a standard-grade mediocre team’

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

NFL-Washington Commanders at Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Instant analysis | Commanders allow costly explosive plays in 29-26 loss to Seahawks

With less than a minute left to play and thousands of fans screaming down their necks, the Washington Commanders gave themselves a chance to come away with an upset over the Seattle Seahawks.

It was third-and-10 at the Seattle 35-yard line, and Sam Howell bounced in the pocket before finding his old UNC teammate Dyami Brown, who snagged the pass and sprinted past Seahawks defenders for the game-tying score.

Giving up explosive plays, a festering wound for the Commanders’ defense all season, became a problem once again on the Seahawks’ final drive, though. A 27-yard catch-and-run by DK Metcalf that set up the winning 43-yard field goal sucked all the air out of Washington’s hopes of victory.

In a way, Washington’s 29-26 loss to the Seahawks, which drops them to 4-6, is a referendum on where the team is at with seven games left to play. There’s no doubt the team is playing better than it was over a month ago, when they got blown out by the 0-4 Chicago Bears. The offense was clicking more consistently, while the defense did enough to at least keep Washington in the game.

But the mistakes, however small, continue to pile up, and against playoff contenders, any number of mistakes is too many.

Washington Post (paywall)

Commanders’ rallies are all for naught in a painful loss to the Seahawks

Seahawks 29, Commanders 26

Emmanuel Forbes Jr. was celebrating when a flurry of yellow flags fell all around him. What he thought was a savvy pass breakup of a ball thrown to Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett was actually a helmet-to-helmet hit that the officials ultimately deemed was grounds for ejection.

So, in the first quarter of the Washington Commanders’ meeting with the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, Forbes trudged back to the locker room, where he watched the rest of the game.

“I was in shock,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was trying to kill him. ... I was trying to make a play on the ball.”

The defense was dealt another blow when end James Smith-Williams, a starter after the trades of Montez Sweat and Chase Young, suffered a hamstring injury late in the second quarter and didn’t return. That left the team without key starters on all three levels of the defense: Forbes was in the locker room, Smith-Williams was on the bench, and linebacker Cody Barton (ankle) was on injured reserve.

Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste was flagged twice, for pass interference on fourth down and a face-mask, and the defense was flagged for having too many men on the field, helping the Seahawks move the ball 75 yards. Quarterback Geno Smith found Lockett for a five-yard touchdown pass to give Seattle a 26-19 lead with 3:47 remaining.

“I feel like I cost my team this win,” St-Juste said. “I’ve been on the positive side of making some clutch plays at the end. And it happened on this one that I wasn’t. It just speaks to the fact that I need to put more work in and understand where I’m at.”


Commanders CB Emmanuel Forbes ejected after hit to helmet

Referee Walt Anderson told a pool reporter that they ejected Forbes after receiving assistance from New York on the play, which, by rule, the officials are allowed to do. Anderson called it a bang-bang play.

“We want players to stay away from helmet-to-helmet contact,” he said. “We’re also looking at is the defender making the attempt to play the ball or is he making no attempt to separate the ball from the player — in terms of going straight for the head? And in this case, it was the latter where he just went straight to the head, and that’s why it rose to the level of disqualification.”

Forbes faces a fine and possible suspension by the NFL. Washington coach Ron Rivera was not pleased with the ejection.

“It most certainly wasn’t an intentional [hit],” Rivera said. “He was lowering his target and the receiver went down to protect himself at the same time. That created the helmet-to-helmet. I get the helmet-to-helmet call, but I struggle with the ejection.”

Forbes has had a rocky rookie season, getting benched for one game and being limited in two others as he struggled in coverage. But he played 47 snaps in the Week 9 win at New England and opened as Washington’s third corner against the Seahawks.

Washington Post (paywall)

The Commanders are as they ever were: A team that’s a few plays away

When the Washington Commanders began this season with two white-knuckle victories, it felt as if they were developing some close-game magic. Whether it was luck, grit or the jolt of new ownership, they appeared to be a team acquiring valuable experience pulling out victories, no matter how suspect they looked.

Ten weeks into the season, it’s clear those games were as much about the shortcomings of the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos as they were about the improvement of the Commanders. On Sunday, Washington fell to a 4-6 record with a last-second, 29-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. They again played just well enough to expose that they’re not good enough.

The Commanders fought through their defensive mistakes and offensive imbalance. Promising young quarterback Sam Howell led a comeback and tied the game with a touchdown pass to Dyami Brown with 52 seconds remaining. Still, they lost. Their past four games have been decided by a touchdown or less. They have lost three of them, with the lone victory coming last week against the offensively inept New England Patriots.

Since winning its first two games by a combined six points, Washington is 1-4 in its past five games decided by seven points or fewer. In his fourth season, Coach Ron Rivera has done what most functional NFL franchises figure out: He has raised the Commanders’ floor. Their ceiling, however, still isn’t high enough for them to stand up.

The epitaph for this season — and for the past four years — is basically this: Hey, we graduated from train-wreck football. But that has left Washington only as a standard-grade mediocre team.

Riggo’s Rag

4 major observations from Sam Howell’s performance at the Seahawks in Week 10

How did QB1 fare at Lumen Field?

Sam Howell couldn’t have done much more

Aside from the third-quarter fumble, Sam Howell turned in another quality performance. He did everything possible to get the Washington Commanders over the line, but the defense just didn’t have enough in their arsenal to prevent a walk-off field goal to condemn them to their sixth loss of the campaign.

Howell looks to have sent the game into overtime by leading a tunning final drive that resulted in Dyami Brown going over for a touchdown. This capped off another 300-yard passing day for the signal-caller, which came without an interception, three scores through the air, and a passer rating of 109.3 as a result of his efforts.

The Commanders didn’t come away with what would have been a crucial win, but this performance did nothing to suggest Howell isn’t the quarterback to lead this franchise moving forward. They might be in a transition year, but even the likes of Josh Harris and Magic Johnson from the new ownership group must acknowledge Washington could have something special on their hands.

It didn’t go the Commanders’ way and their slim chances of reaching the wild card places suffered a blow. However, if Howell can enhance his credentials during what looks like a daunting run of games down the stretch, building around the gunslinger is an easy decision.

Sports Illustrated

NFC Playoff Picture: Where Are Washington Commanders After Loss vs. Seattle Seahawks?

With every NFC team’s Week 10 contest in the books, we have a clearer picture of where the Washington Commanders stand in the playoff picture.

With the NFC having played all of its Week 10 games we now know after this latest Commanders loss they sit in 9th place in the current playoff picture, two spots outside of the final Wild Card birth.

There was never a chance Washington would hold the 7th Seed after Week 10 because of the win-loss records of the teams ahead of it, but it could have been in a position to make a serious push for the spot in the weeks to come.

Now, the team not only has to fight to get into the picture again but has to overcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) who move up to 7th place after they beat the Tennessee Titans (3-6) on Sunday.

Coming into the weekend we asked Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio if he could put his finger on why his unit hasn’t been as effective as we thought it would or at least could be entering the year.

“Explosive plays allowed,” Del Rio said was the reason. “That’s been the big problem. We’re playing solid in a lot of areas but the explosive plays allowed - many of them gift-type situations - are the ones that keep us from ranking well.”

DC Sports King

Geno Smith outduels Sam Howell to lift Seahawks past Commanders with GW drive

Geno Smith passed for a career-high 369 yards, including a 27-yard completion to wide receiver DK Metcalf to set up a walk-off field goal to lift the Seattle Seahawks to a 29-26 win over the Washington Commanders.

Smith’s heroics negated a gallant comeback effort by Commanders’ young quarterback Sam Howell, who orchestrated a game-tying touchdown drive on the previous possession.

Howell threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, including a 35-yard connection with former college teammate Dyami Brown with 52 seconds remaining that tied the score at 26-26.

Howell converted a fourth-down pass to Terry McLaurin, keeping Washington’s hopes alive on their final possession. The QB also overcame bad clock management as Washington called two questionable timeouts. But all was forgiven when Howell found Brown on 3rd-and-10 on a curl route before Brown turned it upfield, knifing through the Seahawks defense to the end zone.

However, the Commanders’ late-game efforts were for naught. Smith led the Seahawks on a seven-play, 50-yard game-winning drive. Smith completed 31-of-47 passes with two touchdowns to add to his career passing day.

CBS Washington

Howell tries to be hero but Washington defense folds late in loss to Seahawks

Washington just couldn’t consistently get stops or move the ball enough, and came up short in a 29-26 loss to the Seahawks.

Howell played well throughout the game, but for most of the contest, Washington could get nothing going down the field. All of his big plays were limited to dump offs to running backs Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson that then broke tackles for chunk gains.

Defensively, the Commanders’ pass rush was largely non-existent in the first half, though much better in the second half. Seahawks QB Geno Smith finished over 300 yards passing and threw two touchdowns.

A particularly rough stretch for the Washington defense came late in the fourth quarter in a tied contest. Over the course of four plays, cornerback Benjamin St. Juste was flagged for two brutal penalties. The first—a questionable pass interference call—came on 4th down that would have sent the Seattle offense off the field.

The second, a no brainer facemask, gave the Seahawks possession at the Washington 4-yard line. Two plays later, Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett hauled in a touchdown pass. Who was in coverage? St. Juste.

Washington now sits a 4-6, and while the team might have finally found an answer at quarterback, the questions remain significant for the rest of the roster, staff and front office.

Podcasts & videos

Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Lose 29-26 in Week 10 | Sam Howell & Brian Robinson Thrive While Defense Fails


PHOTOS | Commanders vs. Seahawks, Week 10

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders during their Week 10 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

NFC East links

Big Blue View

Giants-Cowboys ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: The embarrassment continues for the Giants

Let’s review this week’s carnage in our usual style

Brian Daboll — Yes, the Giants are down to their third quarterback. Yes, they are under-manned. Still, they are an NFL team and they shouldn’t be getting embarrassed like this wek after week. They have lost six games by at least 15 points and three by more than 20. They have been outscored 79-23 in the last two weeks. Their point differential of -148 is league-worst, by an astounding 51 points.

Daboll and his veteran coaching staff have got to figure out some way to at least keep some of these games respectable. Daboll lost a timeout on the first play of the game, inexplicably throwing a challenge flag and then trying not to challenge.

For the second straight week, the Giants at least played hard in the second half. Unfortunately, NFL games include first halves. The offensive game plan was so simplistic it had no chance. The defensive game plan kept allowing Dallas receivers to run free.

Big Blue View

Giants-Cowboys ‘things I think’: Giants are back at the bottom, with a long hill to climb

This season has been a bad dream for the Giants

The final score was 49-17. It could have been worse. A goal line stand on the Cowboys’ first possession, and some garbage-time second-half offensive production kept things from looking even worse.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, last year’s 9-7-1 record and playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings was a mirage. Fool’s Gold. Not a true indicator of where the Giants are as a franchise.

Since beginning last season 7-2, the Giants have gone 5-14-1. Last season was fun, a nice respite from the darkness of being tied with the New York Jets for the worst record in football (22-59) from 2017-2021. It wasn’t, though, real. Or at least not an indication of where the Giants truly stood.

What is real is that the Giants are a rebuilding football team. It seems laughable now that before the season began we were asking GM Joe Schoen if he felt offseason moves like signing linebacker Bobby Okereke and trading for tight end Darren Waller had helped the Giants close the talent gap on teams like the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

The Giants are a galaxy, maybe several galaxies, from being on a par with the top teams in the NFL.

They have been outscored by Dallas 89-17 in two games. Yes, Sunday was with a third-string undrafted free agent quarterback making his first career start. The season-opening 40-0 whitewash was with starting quarterback Daniel Jones and a mostly-healthy roster.

As currently constituted, the Giants have no chance to run good offense against the league’s best teams. They don’t really run good offense against anyone.

They didn’t have much chance on defense, either. They did get a goal-line stand on the game’s first drive after letting the Cowboys reach their 4-yard line in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Still, the Giants gave up 640 yards. They lost Deonte Banks, Cor’Dale Flott and Kayvon Thibodeaux to injuries. Dallas averaged 8.3 yards per play.

The shell-shocked Giants never saw the type of misery they are experiencing this season coming, and their frustrations are plain to see.

NFL league links



5 NFL games end on game-winning field goals, most in one day

Jason Myers sent the Seattle Seahawks to a 29-26 win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday at Lumen Field when he hit a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds.

That kick also sent Week 10 of the NFL season into the record books.

The Seahawks’ win over Washington was the fifth game of the day that was decided on a made field goal as time expired, joining the Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Arizona Cardinals over the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions over the Los Angeles Chargers.

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the five matchups decided by a game-winning score as time expired in regulation was the most on a single day in NFL history. The previous record was three such games, which happened several times.

Sports Illustrated (premium content)

C.J. Stroud Is Making a Serious Push for League MVP

The 2023 No. 2 pick has completely revitalized the Texans and making a strong run at a historic first season.

A second consecutive week necessitating a last-second score. A second straight week against a Super Bowl–caliber defense and defensive coordinator. A second consecutive week of being asked to not merely play strategically sanitized football.

On first-and-10, at your own 25-yard line, with the score tied and less than two minutes to play, you roll to your left, exposing your back to one side of the defense. You turn around, and B.J. Hill is screaming toward you. You step around him to find Myles Murphy, hands raised, about to slap at the football. You somehow emerge from a tunnel of offensive linemen to make a perfect touch throw to your wide receiver … and he drops it. No problem.

Two plays later, after a rush, you drop back again after barely getting the snap off. Find a small island of green grass, plant your foot and immediately begin the process of firing a pass down the seam to a tight end matched up on a cornerback, hitting him in the chest as he falls to the turf. Your coach opts not to use the single remaining timeout as the clock dips below 30 seconds.

Again, no problem.

Stroud is playing so well that there is a legitimate argument to be made that the Texans have the leading candidate for Coach of the Year in DeMeco Ryans, one of the leading candidates for Executive of the Year in Nick Caserio, and a front-runner in both the Rookie of the Year and MVP conversations simultaneously (only Jim Brown has ever won both the rookie and MVP awards in one season). Over the past two weeks, Stroud has thrown for 826 yards and six touchdowns. He has made a number of precision late-game throws under pressure. He has shown he possesses both a serious coolness and a valuable wherewithal. He is not melting down alongside the clock.

Stroud is the difference between hope and chaos, between a potential playoff bid and an offseason rumination on organizational despair. Ask everyone in Texas how valuable that is.