The Washington Commanders entered Week 9 with a different roster after trading away starting DEs Montez Sweat and Chase Young. The went into their game against the New England Patriots with a 3-5 record, and came through with the victory. Sam Howell had another good game, minus the awful interception to end the 2nd half. The Commanders are now 4-5, but they’re just getting back to the middle of the pack.
Next up is a road trip to the west coast to play the 5-3 Seattle Seahawks. The Commanders opened as 6-point road underdogs and that line has held steady. DraftKings has had Washington at 6 1⁄2 wins for the season and this week’s game could get them closer to that total.
Non-QB MVP: WR Terry McLaurin
This was not an easy one to pick — no one is having a Pro Bowl season — but McLaurin has been one of the most consistent Commanders, with 47 catches for 568 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the past six games he has topped 70 yards receiving four times; he has averaged 73.7 yards per game in that stretch compared to 42 in the first three. McLaurin remains the heartbeat of the offense. When he’s involved early, the offense benefits. He’s on pace for 88 catches and 1,072 yards and would become the first player in franchise history to top 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. — John Keim Last week: 24
The offense has played well the past two weeks with Sam Howell coming on strong. They beat the Patriots with over 400 yards of offense, which is a good sign as they get to 4-5 on the season. Last week: 24
At 40.5 points, the Commanders’ contest against the Patriots had one of the lower over-under totals of the entire Week 9 slate, and yet this game still ended up hitting the under. For the Commanders, a ten-point third quarter was all they needed to earn their fourth win on the year, a result which was largely thanks to a strong outing from Sam Howell.
A 325-yard day from Howell, where he connected with Jahan Dotson for a long score, helped keep this offense on track. Howell’s right arm has been a huge reason for Washington staying afloat this season, and while he can be a bit turnover-prone, Howell runs the Commanders offense fairly well. Last week: 23
The Washington Commanders beat a bad New England Patriots team, which is something. And they traded both Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, so I don’t think this team is going to win many more games, but taking care of business in Week 9 is nice nonetheless. Last week: 23
This week, we identify each team’s best moment during the season’s first half:
The first win of the post-Dan Snyder era. Following a tumultuous conclusion under their previous regime, the Commanders embarked on a new venture with a victory over the Cardinals thanks to a late rally. Last week: 24
Last week: 19
Sometimes, Sam Howell gives you the good and the bad in the same game. Against New England, the young quarterback was capable of a 325-yard passing day with a touchdown, as well as a red-zone interception. All part of the process. The Commanders have had some brutal letdowns this season, but Howell’s play has largely been a bright spot. Last week: 22
This move feels temporary for the Washington Commanders. In Week 9, a defense that has been one of the worst in football faced an offense with even bigger problems. The end result was a narrow Commanders’ victory, just like what happened against the Cardinals and Broncos in September. We tend to believe this team is a lot closer to the one that is 2-5 since mid-September than its 4-5 record entering Week 10. Last week: 25
Report card: C-minus
Sam Howell has more passing yards than anyone in the NFL in the last two weeks (722). More surprisingly, he has been sacked only four times in those two games. Still, the Commanders haven’t beaten anyone with a winning record and their four victims have a combined record of 10-25. Last week: 25
The Commanders can fare well with Sam Howell is comfortable enough to make plays downfield. Credit their defense for rallying well to win in New England despite the loses of Young and Montez Sweat on the pass rush. Last week: 23
QB Sam Howell is tracking to take the most sacks while attempting the most passes in a single season. He’s a big reason the Washington Commanders are 4-5 and in the thick of the NFC wild-card race.
However, outside of a game against the Giants, Washington’s second-half schedule is brutal. That starts with a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks, who are coming off a blowout loss to the Ravens. Last week: 21
Last week: 22
Ron Rivera might be one of the precious few head coaches who I would consider a legitimate third-time head coaching candidate should the Commanders opt to move on. That quest begins now, where the ultimate Bawl Coach move is to win out after ownership traded two of your better defensive players (again, let’s be careful not to change the narrative on Chase Young) from right out under you. This may have been one of the least exciting three-point victories in NFL history. Last week: 27
If the past week has been any indication, the Washington Commanders don’t have very high expectations for the remainder of the 2023 season. The team traded away both its starting defensive ends, trading edge-rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young to the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
But for one Sunday at least, the Commanders were able to get it done. Sam Howell threw for 325 yards against the Pats, running back Brian Robinson found the end zone and Washington’s new-look defense allowed a respectable 327 yards of offense and notched a late takeaway to seal the win.
“The Commanders looked like they were ready to enter a full-blown rebuild when they decided to move both Montez Sweat and Chase Young prior to this year’s trade deadline. But the team didn’t roll over,” Sobleski said. “Instead, Washington went to New England and claimed a victory over the Patriots. In doing so, one of the Commanders’ biggest questions may have been answered. The team is rallying behind second-year quarterback Sam Howell. If the franchise is set at quarterback moving forward, the front office can seriously concentrate on building up the rest of the roster.”
“He’s our quarterback,” defensive lineman Jonathan Allen told reporters. “And I think we found our next one for the (next) five, 10 years. And I truly believe that.” Last week: 25
The Commanders had to notice Sam Howell throwing for more than 700 yards over the past two games. They need an answer on Howell and if he can be their future at quarterback. There are still questions about that and a lot of things Howell still needs to clean up, but he is improving. That sets him up well for the second half of the season. Last week: 25
Sometimes, things will go well, and other times, things will go poorly. But things will always be interesting when Sam Howell is the starting quarterback. Howell’s ability is obvious. The undersized quarterback can sling it all over the field, and he can take seven sacks doing it while also throwing a few interceptable passes along the way.
But credit to the Commanders’ defense and the roster as a whole. They could have easily rolled over after seeing their two most talented defenders traded away. The organization waved the white flag on the season, but the players did not blink. Last week: 25
Last week: 23
Just when it seemed like they were giving up, they got their act together. Last week: 25
Last week: 24
Sam Howell is averaging 300 passing yards per game with a solid 95.5 rating over his last six starts and is starting to limit his sacks.
Last week: 26
Any talk of replacing Sam Howell has rightly dissipated, as he’s now strung together two more impressive games, on top of the ones he stacked earlier in the year. Who knows how the rest of the season will go? Either way, he should be considered the guy from here on out. Even though Howell is good for at least one regrettable play per game, he’s shown the kind of composure and dual-threat ability at least a dozen other teams (including the Patriots, whom he vanquished Sunday) would love to have at the QB position right now. The Commanders’ defense also deserves a back pat for turning in a strong team effort after losing its two top pass rushers. Credit to the replacements. There wasn’t a massive drop-off in Washington’s first game without Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Last week: 27
A surprisingly entertaining team that’s still a couple years away from contention. Last week: 25
Last week: 29
Fresh off consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his career, QB Sam Howell now leads the NFC with 2,471 passing yards – a figure that may continue to rise after the defense was stripped at the trade deadline. Last week: 30
Last week: 31
Where should the Washington Commanders be ranked going into Week 10?
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