The Washington Commanders entered Week 10 with a 4-5 record, and a chance to get back into the playoff race. They were visiting the Seahawks, and were in it until the final play, a game-winning field goal for Seattle. That loss didn’t move the needle for the power rankings this week, and the Commanders average only dropped half a spot.
Washington returns home this week to get ready for the second round with the 2-8 New York Giants. Tommy DeVito is their third-string quarterback, and he’ll be getting his second NFL start vs the Commanders. Washington opened as 9 1/2-point home favorites and that line has held steady.
Ron Rivera might not agree with my assessment, since he could be coaching for his job. But this season looks like a rousing success for Washington. The Commanders have been competitive, they’ve acquired draft capital, and most importantly, they seem to have a quarterback they can build around in Sam Howell. It feels weird to type this, but the future seems bright. Last week: 20
All but two of the Commanders’ contests this campaign have finished one-score games. They’ve been on the wrong end of those close calls in three of their last four matchups. Last week: 19
Wow, you can’t help but feel for the Washington Commanders a little bit. Ron Rivera’s crew fought hard on Sunday afternoon in Seattle, and Sam Howell engineered a very impressive drive late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Geno Smith and DK Metcalf shut down any excitement the Commanders may have been feeling.
Washington, incidentally, could have used a decent pass rush at the end of that game, eh?
The Commanders aren’t competing for one of the top two spots in the NFC East at this point, but a win in Seattle would have kept their hope for the 6th or 7th seed in the NFC decently strong. Now, they have very little margin for error the rest of the way. Last week: 19
Listen, when you’re 4-6 every game is a big one, but this one stands out because it’s not only a game where the nation will be watching — a chance for quarterback Sam Howell to show his development — but it could be a chance for the Commanders to even their record. That is, of course, if they beat the Tommy DeVito-led New York Giants Sunday. Washington technically would still be in the playoff hunt if it beat New York and lost to Dallas. But realistically it would be a wrap, especially with upcoming games against Miami, San Francisco and the Cowboys. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is 5-0 vs. Washington in Dallas. — John Keim Last week: 19
Coach status: Shaky
Barring a 7-0 finish to end the season (which seems very unlikely), Ron Rivera is going to have a losing record when his fourth season in Washington is complete. Rivera should get some sort of medal for surviving Dan Snyder’s ownership with such grace, but his results with the Commanders can’t be what new owner Josh Harris is looking for. There’s a chance Harris sticks with Rivera to maintain some consistency while he figures out other things, but it feels like a small one. Last week: 21
That was a tough loss on the road to Seattle, but there was a lot of good. Sam Howell is improving by the week. Last week: 19
Sam Howell (29-for-44, 312 yards, 3 TD) continued his improved play in a close loss at Seattle. Washington hosts the injury-depleted Giants this week before facing the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Last week: 24
Last week: 19
The Washington Commanders’ defense has been one of the league’s most disappointing groups this season. QB Sam Howell, on the other hand, is leading the league in passing yards and attempts. Howell has kept the Commanders in a lot of games, including two against the Eagles.
Still, Washington is a volatile team with a brutal second-half schedule. It needs to beat the Giants this week to have any shot at making the playoffs. Last week: 21
Last week: 24
Ron Rivera’s team just keeps finding ways to lose. Sunday, giving up a big play over the middle of the field to D.K. Metcalf to set up the Seahawks’ game-winner. Washington has been more competitive than could reasonably been expected after pass rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young were both traded at the deadline, but, will that be enough to save Rivera’s job? Last week: 21
Near the start of both halves, Sam Howell twice did this Mahomesian thing where he scrambled to his left, sort of inviting the defenders to converge on him, before flipping the ball to Brian Robinson for long gains. The first went for a 51-yard TD, the second gained 48 yards. They might have something there. Howell has had a few rough games but mostly has stood tall in the face of adversity, leading two game-tying drives in the fourth quarter, albeit in another loss. But look, talk about benching Howell at one point was utterly silly. Right now, he and some of the skill-position players are the best thing Washington has going for itself. The question now is whether this coaching staff has done enough to convince new owner Josh Harris to keep the group in place, and whether Howell will get to continue working in this system or must learn a new one. Last week: 26
The Commanders should be pleased about Sam Howell and the offense showing more fight with additional weapons and the running backs look better all-around again. But the reeling defense and pass protection continue to be un-winnable assets. Last week: 21
The Commanders-Seahawks game felt like a perfect microcosm of how Week 10 went for the NFL – strong individual offensive performances, but little to show for it on the scoreboard.
While Sam Howell threw for over 300 yards and three scores, Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson combined for four receptions on ten targets, with McLaurin hauling in all four of those passes. The Washington offense is frustrating and loves to go through peaks and valleys, and their performance in Week 10 wasn’t a great one across the board. Last week: 19
Last week: 21
I was silently rooting for the Commanders on Sunday, if only because I enjoy complicated situations and having the Commanders go on a post-Chase Young/Montez Sweat trade run would make for a very complicated situation. Unfortunately, it seems the Commanders are flashing just enough potential on a moment-to-moment basis that we have to wonder what the team would look like if reimagined just slightly. Last week: 22
Sam Howell has three 300-yard games in a row. He took at least four sacks in each of his first six starts, and hasn’t taken more than three sacks in his last three games. He didn’t throw an interception Sunday and led the Commanders on a game-tying drive in the final minute. Howell leads the NFL in passing yards. Howell’s steady improvement is a very cool story that probably isn’t getting enough attention. Last week: 23
In the leadup to Sunday’s game in Seattle, embattled Commanders head coach Ron Rivera continued to tell reporters that he was happy with the direction the team is headed in.
“Well, I just think as you look at what we’re doing and we continue to be competitive, that’s probably the biggest thing right now,” Rivera said. “We’ve had a lot of change, a lot of things that we’re doing differently and just trying to put it together. I mean, for me, the biggest thing is just to continue to play hard and continue to do the best we can and hopefully win some football games more so than anything else. I mean, the truth is, this is about winning. That’s the biggest thing that comes from the audition more than anything else.”
Rivera’s use of the word “audition” is telling—because that’s what 2023 is. For him. For quarterback Sam Howell. And after falling on a last-second field goal for their third defeat in four games, both team and coach are failing that audition.
With a new ownership group in town and the Commanders barreling toward another losing season, odds are big changes are coming in the nation’s capital.
And while next week’s home date with a pitiful Giants team may provide a temporary respite, games at Dallas and in Miami will likely put the final nail(s) in Rivera’s coffin. Last week: 22
The Washington Commanders sure could’ve used a few extra pass rushers with juice on several drives against the Seattle Seahawks. Then again, they lost them because ownership effectively surrendered on the season. It’s probably the right move long-term, but this is one of those games where the fire sale proved costly. Last week: 20
Sam Howell and the Commanders’ offense fought all the way to the end. They drove down the field against Seattle’s defense and tied the game with only one minute remaining.
And in 59 seconds, the Commanders’ defense undid that good deed, allowing the Seahawks to go 50 yards and kick a 43-yard field goal to win the game 29-26. It turns out that having pass rushers might be somewhat important to defensive success in those obvious passing situations. Last week: 23
Will Eric Bieniemy get a chance to audition for the job? Last week: 24
Not good enough to compete. Not bad enough for a full-blown tank. Last week: 26
Last week: 23
Last week: 26
No team is averaging fewer rushing attempts per game than Washington’s 20.2. They’ve topped 100 yards on the ground once in the past six weeks – perhaps not coincidentally the Week 9 win at New England. Last week: 28
Last week: 29
Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked going into Week 11?
This poll is closed
The Washington Commanders have 7 more games, but with a 4-6 record, a lot of people are keeping an eye on the team’s draft position for next year. Washington is currently projected to have the 10th overall pick, but a lot can change over the next two months. The Packers, Rams and Titans all have a 3-6 record. The Falcons are also 4-6. The Buccaneers, Jets, Broncos and Chargers are all 4-5. That’s a lot of teams that could move towards the top five, or towards the teens in next year’s draft.
Washington Commanders 2024 NFL Draft picks*
Round 1 (#10)
Round 2 (#37 from CHI)
Round 2 (#41)
Round 3 (#74)
Round 3 (#100 from SF)
Round 4 (#109)
Round 5 (#146)
Round 6 (#186)
Round 7 (#229)
(*Projected via Tankathon)