Mike Tomlin heads top 5 candidates in Coach of the Year race; Sam Howell’s viability as a franchise QB
Given his production and performance through 11 career starts, including last season’s Week 18 debut win over Dallas, Howell should have silenced the critics who questioned his talent and potential as a long-term starter. Moreover, the quarterback has made a compelling case to deter the Commanders from exploring the 2024 quarterback class in the upcoming draft.
While it initially seems a little crazy to suggest a team with a potential top-10 pick should bypass a chance to grab a blue-chip quarterback prospect in a draft that looks like it’ll be pretty talent-rich at the position, Howell’s emergence as a viable starter should make Washington’s brass pause before adding another signal-caller to the mix.
The second-year pro has exceeded expectations as a former fifth-round pick, blossoming into a prolific passer in Eric Bieniemy’s system. Though the 23-year-old is far from a “system” quarterback, his talents have been accentuated in the quick-rhythm scheme installed by the Commanders’ first-year coordinator. The mix of “catch, rock and throw” passes and short-to-intermediate concepts on three- and five-step drops perfectly match Howell’s skills as a pinpoint passer with a quick release. To take advantage of Howell’s limitless range as a deep thrower, the Commanders have routinely featured various vertical routes that enable the young passer to push the ball down the field. With a collection of speedsters on the perimeter (SEE: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Dyami Brown), a calculated deep throw can produce an explosive play that flips the field or lights up the scoreboard.
As a talented dual-threat with quick feet and stellar passing skills on the move, Howell’s presence has encouraged the Commanders to incorporate some RPOs and movement passes into the game plan. The combination of zone-read runs with bubble screens or isolation routes (slants, quick outs and hitches) opens up the running game while creating easy pitch-and-catch chances for the quarterback.
In addition, Howell’s improvisational skills have led to a series of spectacular plays on off-schedule throws. With the Commanders’ young QB1 displaying a repertoire of skills that could evolve into superpowers, the No. 144 overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft looks like a keeper at the position.
Washington Post (paywall)
Rivera added that he hasn’t considered making an assistant coaching change to improve the defense
“I mean, I understand the situation and circumstances, but I’m not going to waver on anything,” Rivera said Friday. “I’ll stick to what I talked about in the spring, and that was the growth and development of the quarterback and the offensive unit. … My big disappointment has been we haven’t played as well on defense that we’ve needed to. Does that make my job security shaky? It could. I mean, I have no idea what [owner] Mr. [Josh] Harris is going to do. So all I can do is just focus in on each game each week and just stay on that game.
“I did the same thing in Carolina, and the truth is, I mean, this is the nature of the game,” he continued, thinking back to when his nine-year tenure with the Panthers ended in 2019, a season after David Tepper purchased the team. “I get it. So if it happens, it happens. If I stay, I stay. Until then, I will just continue to work.”
“S---, I’ve been through enough,” Rivera said. “The last three and a half years have not been easy. Anybody who thinks it’s been easy, to hell with them. And I’ll be honest with you, because that’s how I feel about the last three years. It’s been a lot, we’ve done a lot.”
[W]hen asked if he thought about making a change to his defensive staff with the hope of sparking improvement, much like Buffalo hoped on offense when it fired coordinator Ken Dorsey earlier this week, Rivera said he never considered it.
“No because, I mean, in this situation and circumstances right now, to me there’s more than just one reason [for the team’s record],” Rivera said. “And I’m not looking to throw anybody under the bus or blame anybody. I want to get through this season. I want to get through the season with as many wins as we can have. I want to get in the playoffs. We have seven games left to play and we’ll see what happens. But I’m not going anywhere in terms of changing what I’m doing or changing my approach. We started this and I think we have an opportunity to do some good things and, again, just continue with the growth.”
Eric Bieniemy put it best on Thursday; Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is who he is, and he isn’t going to change his tendency to bring pressure at any opportunity.
“We need to make sure that the communication is in line,” Bieniemy said. “Then on top of that, when called upon to execute, do your job to the best of your ability. If we’re doing that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
The Commanders did not execute the last time they faced off against the Giants. Here are their stats from the first half of Week 7: two first downs, 0-for-7 on third down, 46 total net yards and seven punts.
Oh, and one more thing: Sam Howell was sacked five times.
That game was a turning point for the Commanders, who were on pace to give up an NFL record in sacks. Tyler Larsen and Chris Paul are now in the starting lineup, Howell is better at avoiding pressure and Bieniemy is putting the team in better position to avoid pressure.
But teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks don’t bring the same amount of pressure as the Giants do on every play. Back in Week 7, Howell was pressured on 28.6% of his dropbacks and was pressured 14 times. Pressure has been a problem for Washington’s offense all season, and teams took advantage of it in earlier weeks.
Sunday’s game will give Washington the chance to show how much it really has improved at protecting Howell. If they can do that, then Howell could be on his way to a solid day for the fourth consecutive week.
Tommy DeVito is top of the list of New York Giants’ players the Washington Commanders must keep quiet in Week 11.
Commanders can’t let Darius Slayton stretch the field
Darius Slayton is grumbling his way through a disappointing campaign, but he’s still the New York Giants’ most productive wide receiver. He’s amassed 337 receiving yards, including 13 yards per reception.
Slayton’s also a deep threat who’s burned the Washington Commanders in the past. The 26-year-old snagged six catches for 90 receiving yards when these two teams battled to a 20-20 tie last season, including a 55-yard grab which was an undoubted highlight from the clash.
The wideout has no trouble getting vertical, but his speed after the catch caused problems in Week 7. The wideout got loose for 22 yards on this play.
The Commanders can’t give Slayton the room they afforded Seattle Seahawks’ receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett last time out. Rather than playing off coverage, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio should have his cornerbacks roll up and press the Giants’ primary pass-catchers.
Challenging Tommy DeVito and a suspect supporting cast to beat man coverage is a contest Washington’s defense ought to win every time.
Washington Commanders safety Darrick Forrest has been on the injured reserve since Oct. 10 with a shoulder injury.
Commanders (4-6) safety Darrick Forrest has been on the injured reserve since Week 6 with a shoulder injury. Washington head coach Ron Rivera commented on the safety’s progress and how he’s getting closer to returning to the field.
“Yeah, I was asked the other day about him,” Rivera said. “He’s coming along pretty well. It was a shoulder, and he’s been getting his treatments. I actually talked with him the other day about it, and he started saying it’s starting to feel really good. It’s coming along, but there is no timeline. It was a substantial injury. [It] didn’t require surgery or anything like that, but it’s one of those that takes a little bit of time.”
Before suffering the shoulder injury, Forrest was starting to find his stride with three straight games with seven tackles. The third-year safety also saw an increase in playing time, as he played 99 percent of the defensive snaps compared to playing 81 percent of snaps on defense in 2022. Forrest had the best season of his young career in 2022, as he had 88 tackles and led the team with four interceptions. He also had nine passes defended, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
NFL Week 11 odds, how to watch, streaming: Expert selections, best bets, teasers, survivor picks and more
CBSSports.com and SportsLine break down every single NFL game in Week 11
“Enough people likely have the Commanders remaining in their pool of available options that I expect them to be the top play in any survivor format this week, especially after the Giants offense showed zero life against the Cowboys as expected. My worry is that the Washington defense is the furthest thing from the Dallas defense, and there’s certainly a world where they give up 20-plus points to this Giants team and a healthier New York defense helps deliver the upset. It may involve Tommy DeVito getting benched for Matt Barkley, either during the week of practice or in game, or it may involve Saquon Barkley rolling for 200 yards, but anything is on the table with this poor defensive unit.
“The benefit to using the Commanders now if you have them is that there will be no other weeks in which it’s a good idea moving forward. They’re at the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, then they host the Dolphins before a Week 13 bye. After the bye, they have road games against the Rams and Jets before closing the season by hosting the 49ers and Cowboys. But if you do pass on them, it’s possible the Cowboys will be resting players for that Week 18 game if the division is out of reach, so the Commanders may make for a sneaky good play in that matchup. It’s hard to project that this far out, but at least that gives you one reason to save them.”
Podcasts & videos
Beltway Football: Giants preview - Are Sam and EB tied at the hip, and how can the Commanders win this one?
Why Orlovsky is backing Sam Howell vs. the Giants
Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Sam Howell and Offense Looking for Redemption vs. New York Giants in Week 11
Episode 702 - #NYGvsWAS preview:— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) November 17, 2023
- Eric Bieniemy raves about Sam Howell
- telling comments from JDR
- Rhyming Keys for a #Commanders win
I in the opening minute share what I've been told about Josh Harris & Bill Belichick.#CFBPicks: #Terps, #JMU & more.https://t.co/1wxOBQe6hV
A GIANT Division Matchup to SLAY on SUNDAY | Command Center | Washington Commanders
“The NFL Chris Paul” | Next Man Up Podcast | Washington Commanders
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders wrapping up their final day of practice for the New York Giants.
NFC East links
Big Blue View
Washington allows 27.4 points per game. They allow 380.9 points per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Washington’s pass defense is the major issue, as highlighted above (264 PYPG, 29th in the league). However, the Commanders still surrender 116 rushing yards per game, which ranks 21st in the NFL.
Saquon Barkley did not have a ton of rushing room against Washington in Week 7, but he did damage. He had 77 yards on 21 carries (3.7 YPC), but his three receptions for 44 yards and a score was the difference maker for the Giants.
Their pass rush looks a lot different than Week 7, but Washington has 26 sacks on the season, which ranks 15th in the NFL. The Giants only have 15; six of them were against Sam Howell.
The Commanders blitz at the 12th highest rate (26.5%) and they get pressure on 21% of their opponent’s dropbacks, which is tied with the Giants at 19th in the NFL. Both Washington and the Giants have six interceptions on the season.
With Chase Young out of town, defensive linemen Jonathan Allen leads the Commanders in pressure with 33. Defensive lineman DaRon Payne has 19, and James Smith-Williams has 14. The combination of Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, and Efe Obada have now assumed the EDGE roles on defense. They have 27 pressures between the three of them.
Safety Kamren Curl leads the defense with 81 tackles. Linebackers Jamin Davis and Cody Barton have 68 and 61, respectively, but the latter is out with a high-ankle sprain. Former Giant David Mayo now starts next to Davis, and had six tackles against Seattle.
The most penalized Commander is cornerback Benjamin St. Juste. The former Golden Gopher was flagged seven times this season, but also has 11 pass break ups, which ranks second in the NFL. Rookie first-round pick Emmanuel Forbes is second on the team with seven.
Forbes had a bounce back game against the Patriots where he had three passes batted down and only allowed two catches on seven targets. However, he was ejected in Week 10 after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Seahawks’ wide receiver Tyler Lockett. It’s been a rough year for the rookie; he only played five snaps against the Giants in Week 7.
NFL league links
Pro Football Talk
In a four-page letter sent Friday to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Crotty, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch explains that the NFL intends to file a motion to dismiss Trotter’s case. The letter also provides a glimpse into the league’s overall position regarding the termination of Trotter’s employment.
“In March 2020, after an initial two-year contract, the NFL renewed Plaintiff’s contract for another three years,” Lynch writes. “In March 2023, Plaintiff’s contract expired and, as part of a broader cost-cutting measure and strategic shift away from traditional broadcast journalism and towards interactive media, the NFL made the decision not to renew the contracts of several reporters, including Plaintiff. That reasoning was communicated to Plaintiff and is well documented.”
Whether the league has indeed shifted “away from traditional broadcast journalist and toward interactive media” (whatever that means) is irrelevant for now. However, it sheds light on how the league will try to defend the case.
Trotter claims the decision was motivated in whole or in part by discrimination and retaliation, under federal, state, and local law.
The league is setting record ratings despite lawsuits and investigations. That’s not a good thing
Kneeling and racism couldn’t do it. Misogyny and homophobia never stood a chance. Presidential jabs fell short. The NFL is unbreakable.
According to a recent report by the Sports Business Journal, “NFL viewership is at an eight-year high with a per-game average of 17.2 million viewers — up 7 percent year-over-year. That’s the highest since 2015 through nine weeks.”
Thanos thought he was inevitable. Goodell knows he’s Teflon.
This isn’t good. When entities become too big to fail, wrongs are ignored and bad behavior increases.
According to Forbes, last year, the NFL made $11.9 billion in revenue, which was 7 percent more than the previous year.