Washington Post (paywall)
Last season, the Commanders incorporated more zone-match principles, in which defenders take zone drops but defend anyone man-to-man who enters their zone. Such coverages allowed defenders to maintain their zone structures but incorporated rules to create tighter coverage and get more eyes on the quarterback. But zone-match principles require sound communication and tackling, which the Commanders have often lacked, leading to explosive plays.
Perhaps in response to the struggles on defense and to compensate for the personnel changes, the Commanders have used man coverage on 41.1 percent of their defensive plays the past four weeks, the second-highest rate in the NFL in that span, according to the website TruMedia. In the first eight weeks of the season, they were in man coverage on only 24.3 percent of their plays.
So something has to change. In simplifying the defense, the Commanders hope to eliminate mistakes such as blown coverages, missed assignments and late breaks on throws.
Creating better disguises up front, be it with pass-rushing stunts or “MUG” fronts, in which the defense threatens multiple blitzers but ends up dropping some into coverage, could be among the changes. But perhaps the greatest change will be on the sideline as Rivera assumes play-calling, a task he hasn’t had since 2019, when he coached the Carolina Panthers.
The Athletic (paywall)
Trista Langdon’s task would essentially be to put lipstick on a pig — er, hog — for years to come.
That metaphor wasn’t in the job description when Langdon joined Washington’s NFL franchise as the overseer of FedEx Field in December 2021 after spending 16 years with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. But she knew she would be charged with sprucing up a dilapidated building … while fans, friends and foes rooted for the wrecking ball.
Langdon was in postgame mode on the stadium’s club level following Washington’s loss when her cellphone buzzed. She was told that a railing had collapsed by the field. Fans were involved — along with Eagles star quarterback Jalen Hurts.
That’s when Langdon’s vision changed dramatically. Any ideas about transforming the Prince George’s County property, which appears older than you’d expect for having opened in 1997, immediately went on hold.
“It was pretty apparent from the day that I got in that we were going take a few steps back,” Langdon said.
Regardless of the anger and mockery, the staff continues caring for the stadium as well as possible. That job falls to Langdon and vice president of guest experience Joey Colby-Begovich, a perpetually upbeat individual who is the emotional counterweight to Langdon’s stoicism.
“I tend to talk about the nuts and bolts and the not-so-pretty,” Langdon said, “and then Joey brings in all the rainbows and fireworks to ensure our fans have a great time.”
Together, they lead Washington’s effort to produce positive game-day experiences even when the masses arrive expecting the worst. Both have eyes open to their customers’ frustrations, saying multiple times that FedEx Field was “undermaintained” during the years Dan Snyder owned the team.
The vague timeline for any new digs opening is 2030 … ish. The duo has work to do until Harris finalizes a course of action with D.C., Virginia or Maryland officials and a new stadium is built.
Washington Commanders’ Eric Bieniemy Won’t ‘Put Fear’ in Team Ahead of Matchup vs. Miami Dolphins CBs
Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy discussed the challenges of facing Miami Dolphins cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard.
The Dolphins have a pair of former All-Pro cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard. While quarterback Sam Howell has had some positive moments this season, he’s behind probably the worst pass-protecting offensive line in the NFL and has gunslinger tendencies, as evidenced by his 13 interceptions this season. That feels like a dangerous mix with perhaps the league’s best cornerback duo coming to Landover Sunday.
For his part, Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy didn’t deny how impressive the the pair of cornerbacks Miami employs are.
While acknowledging the prowess that Miami has at cornerback, Bieniemy still projected confidence when discussing how he’ll prepare Howell, receiver Terry McLaurin and the Commanders for their matchup with Ramsey and Howard.
“The thing that we do, you don’t coach your guys and put fear in them,” Bieniemy said. “At the end of the day, we got to go out and play. We got to go out and be the very best of who we are.
“And so, when it’s all said and done with, we got to go out and execute our scheme and execute our job better than they’re executing their scheme and better than they’re executing, utilizing their God-given ability, but we just have to go play.”
Podcasts & videos
“I Would Hope Nobody Smells the Cleats Like That” | Hang Time Ep. 5 | Antonio Gibson
Episode 711 - Guest: @MarkBullockNFL. Film breakdown of Sam Howell. What must he still show? Also, great insight on #Commanders WRs & more.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) December 1, 2023
Preview of #MIAvsWAS, including key comments from EB.
I also talk @LibertyFootball & #CapsDucks. Top-Line Tom !https://t.co/H7mApr6p6f
Sheehan: SBJ’s John Ourand recaps Josh Harris’ appearance at the Dealmakers Conference
Mark Ein sees D.C. sports as ‘great melting pot of our community’ https://t.co/eKLnv6c2dc— Mark Ein (@Markein) December 1, 2023
NFC East links
Dak Prescott, Not A Leader, Completely Throws His Coaches Under The Bus For His Awful “Yeah Here We Go” Cadence
Well I just don’t think the NFL can give the Cowboys another nationally televised broadcast until he gets rid of the “yeahhhhh here we gooooooo” cadence. At the very least, these networks need to be all over the mute button every time Dak is under center at home. It’s infuriating. You spend your entire night screaming at your television for him to shut up. I’m not saying he needs to be like everybody else in the world and just say “green 18”. He can get creative with a whatever color/number combo he wants. But “yeah here we go” is going to drive everybody up the wall if the Cowboys end up with a couple home playoff games.
And clearly Dak hates it as well because the first chance he got to speak about it, he immediately threw the blame over to his coaching staff and linemen.
Here’s Dak Prescott on the origin story of his renowned pre snap cadence, “Here we GOOOO!!”— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) December 1, 2023
It’s a fascinating listen: pic.twitter.com/NQANziLp0I
He had a chance to take ownership here. Just a layup of a question from Fitzmagic, and Dak immediately throws the coaches under the bus. You think Jalen Hurts would ever do that? You think he’d ever single out his teammates and coaches like that? No chance. Great leaders always point the first finger at themselves. Clearly nobody has ever taught Dak Prescott that lesson before.
NFL league links
Pro Football Talk
After Arizona granted the tight end’s request to release him on Thursday, Ertz was not claimed by a team, according to the transaction wire. That means Ertz is now a free agent and able to sign with any team.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter named the Eagles, Chiefs, Ravens, and Bills as teams that have potential interest in Ertz, who would like to sign with a contender.
Ertz, of course, spent his first nine seasons with the Eagles until they traded him to the Cardinals midway through 2021. He caught 579 passes for 6,267 yards with 38 touchdowns in 123 games for the franchise, which selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.