Washington Times (paywall)
I think the idea was supposed to be if the Commanders had a quarterback, this team would win. The quarterback was the missing piece, all that was between the Commanders and winning.
The quarterback wasn’t all that separated this team from losing and winning. This should be an alarming conclusion.
The sales pitch has been that this team is close, with a talented foundation of key “core” Commanders— the term Rivera has fixated on has been “roster building.”
Remember Rivera’s famous declaration last year when he was asked about the difference between the Commanders and the success at that time of the other three NFC East teams, Rivera said, “Quarterback.”
“The truth is that this is a quarterback-driven league,” Rivera said. “And if you look at the teams that have been able to sustain success, they’ve been able to build it around a specific quarterback.”
Once he had a quarterback, Rivera’s Commanders would take the next step — double-digit wins, regular playoff appearances, respect.
But a quarterback, it seems, finally, is here. The team around that quarterback, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to be any closer to respectable than it was after Rivera’s first season. The roster Rivera and Co, have built is falling apart.
Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)
Breaking down the inconsistency of the Commanders defense which led to the Seahawks biggest plays
The Commanders are playing a lot of young players on defense, either by design or necessity through injury and those players are showing signs of potential on one play and then a significant mistake on the next. Safety Percy Butler is the perfect example. Let’s look at his role in the Seahawks most explosive play of the game.
On this play we see the Commanders dropping into a conservative Cover 2 shell with two safeties back defending the deep halves of the field while the other five defenders split the underneath part of the field into fifths. This defense is all about protecting against the deep shot and forcing the ball to be checked down underneath where the defense can rally to the ball and make the tackle. The scheme works perfectly, staying on top of the deeper routes and forcing the quarterback to eventually find the running back on a checkdown underneath.
From this position, the play should be simple for the defense. As soon as the ball is thrown to the back, everyone should be driving down to assist in making the tackle and keeping the gain to a minimum. However, the first defender that should get there is cornerback Danny Johnson. The running back receives the pass while working towards Johnson’s zone, so Johnson should be the first one on the scene and make the tackle. Unfortunately, Johnson slips as he attempts to drive down towards the running back, which gives the running back just enough time to run by him and turn the corner.
Now that’s obviously unfortunate and frustrating in its own right, but even with Johnson slipping and failing to make the play himself, the rest of the defense should be able to make up ground and get the running back down. As the deep safety, Percy Butler’s role here is to be able to stay on top of everything and then act as the last line of defense, making tackles when the underneath defenders fail to prevent a bad play from becoming a terrible one. Butler works his way down towards the running back but then pauses his feet as the back approaches. The back gives a small juke and that’s enough to help him break free of the tackle attempt from Butler.
It was yet another game that got away...
Winner No. 2 - Brian Robinson Jr. - Commanders RB
The Washington Commanders have been waiting for Brian Robinson Jr. to break out in the running game. While this didn’t materialize - at least in the first half - at the Seattle Seahawks, the former third-round pick made his presence felt in the passing attack for arguably the first time in his professional career.
Sam Howell found Robinson with supreme improvisation early in the game for a big gain. This provided the confidence needed to continue looking for the second-year pro, who brought in all six of his targets for 119 receiving yards and one touchdown in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
Robinson also managed 38 rushing yards on eight touches, which represents a decent 4.8 yards-per-carry average. Had the Commanders not opted to deploy him between the tackles on several occasions, this number would have been much greater.
Of course, the result wasn’t what the Commanders hoped for - one that significantly diminished their chances of attaining a wildcard berth. However, the Alabama product can look back on his contribution with a real sense of pride.
Hopefully, this can be the springboard that ignites Robinson to greater heights over Washington’s remaining seven games. It should also give offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy more belief that he can deliver when it comes to catching passes out of the backfield - something that wasn’t necessarily there before the campaign.
For the 2nd straight week, ex-NFL director of officiating says officials got it wrong with the Commanders
The Washington Commanders were involved in one of the most controversial officiating calls of Week 9. Rookie defensive end K.J. Henry sacked New England QB Mac Jones, but the sack was overturned, and Henry was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.
It was a horrendous call that gave the Patriots a free three points. Fortunately, it didn’t cost the Commanders the game.
Afterward, FOX Sports rules analyst and former NFL director of officiating Dean Blandino weighed in and said the officials got it wrong. It should not have been called a penalty.
One week later, the Commanders were again on the wrong end of a bad officiating decision.
Rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes hit Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett in the first quarter. It was quickly flagged. Replays show that while the hit wasn’t dirty, Forbes did lead with his head. That was the correct call.
However, the officials went a step further; after convening, they ejected the 170-pound Forbes from the game. It was a terrible decision.
On Monday, Blandino weighed in. He again agreed the officials got it wrong. While Blandino agreed that Forbes should have been flagged for the hit, he should not have been disqualified from the game.
The Washington Commanders will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving as part of the NFL’s second annual celebration of John Madden.
As division rivals of the Cowboys who host a game on the holiday every year Washington has participated in several of these contests over the year, but this will be the first to feature tributes to the late legend who not only became a Thanksgiving fixture but continues to impact the way generations come to view the sport as a whole.
Joining in on the efforts to honor Madden’s memory networks FOX, CBS, and NBC will have on and off field tributes planned along with an NFL-produced “Madden Hallmark” ahead of each game happening on Thanksgiving.
Additionally, each contest that day will have a player of the game elected and he will receive $10,000 from the NFL Foundation which will be donated to a high school or youth football program in their name.
The Commanders will face Dallas as the second game of the day scheduled to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS while the Green Bay Packers will face the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the San Francisco 49ers visit the Seattle Seahawks at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC to cap off the day of competition and celebration.
Podcasts & videos
Howell, Commanders facing big pass-rush tests
Episode 699 - Ron Rivera on Monday addressed why the #Commanders' defense is so bad. He did not have many answers.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) November 14, 2023
I also talk Sam Howell, whether Eric Bieniemy should call more runs, whether Ron shoulda gone for two, Wizards' choke job in Toronto & more.https://t.co/NLqV9Yn6ZC
Washington Commanders Kamren Curl Contract Evaluation | Emmanuel Forbes Status | Secondary Future
Taking a look at Sam Howell’s fourth quarter success Sunday. What it reveals (that he’s good?). His growth is pivotal of course. Also the RBs in the pass game. some was by design the rest, to me, a sign of growth. They help in multiple ways. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/6fgcbncuQn— John Keim (@john_keim) November 14, 2023
Commanders Talk: 4-6...So Here We Are | Commanders vs Seahawks - Offensive All-22 | BnG Sessions https://t.co/nLZf0nXDe4— The BnG® (@PhilipHughesNFL) November 15, 2023
NFC East links
The Athletic (paywall)
It’s not hard to envision a divide between the two as Daboll’s offense fails to score points while Martindale’s defense hemorrhages them. Daboll was celebrated for going outside of his circle to hire Martindale, pivoting to the aggressive defensive coordinator after Patrick Graham bolted for Las Vegas. But that lack of a pre-existing relationship could make things more tenuous in the face of adversity.
Martindale’s lengthy and candid response last week to safety Xavier McKinney’s criticisms was a stark contrast to Daboll’s approach to internal strife. Daboll downplayed McKinney’s gripes about the coaching staff not listening to player input.
Wink Martindale spoke candidly about Xavier McKinney’s comments following Sunday’s loss.— Charlotte Carroll (@charlottecrrll) November 9, 2023
They came as a surprise and hurt. It’s not something that’s happened to #giants DC before
Martindale said his message to the safety was that his public grievances hurt locker room pic.twitter.com/BoRHQod8jB
The story could have died after Daboll addressed it last Monday and McKinney turned the page at a charity event on Tuesday. But Martindale breathed new life into the controversy during his weekly Thursday news conference when he shared how hurt and surprised he was by the comments, “because it’s the first time it’s ever happened in my career.”
Suddenly, every daily outlet covering the team had another headline on the drama. When asked about Martindale’s reaction on Thursday, Daboll said, “I’ve said enough about what I was going to say about X. We’ve moved on.” It’s safe to assume the head coach would have preferred his assistant saying less about the topic.
“What I tell the players all the time is, ‘What I owe you during the game is my composure,’” Martindale said last year. “There’s some people telling me that I need to be more animated on the sidelines. You’re not going to be animated if you’re thinking about the next play, what you’re going to call next.”
So one can only imagine Martindale’s reaction to Daboll’s tablet tosses and red-faced outbursts on the sideline.