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Daily Slop - 3 Dec 23: Can Ron Rivera’s simplified defense stop Miami’s big-play receivers?

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New York Giants v Miami Dolphins Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

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Commanders announce 6th home sellout of 2023 season

and nachos are 50% off

The Washington Commanders announced Saturday that their Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins is sold out. It’s Washington’s sixth home sellout of the season under the new ownership team led by Josh Harris.

Unfortunately for the Commanders, they’re 4-8 on the season and haven’t won at FedEx Field since the season-opening victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 10.

As has often been the case in recent years, opposing fans have made up a large portion of those buying tickets, and that’s likely to be the case on Sunday when the Commanders host the Dolphins, one of the AFC’s best teams.

While it’s easy to mock the team’s performance, ownership is at least trying to do some positive promotions for those who attend.


Washington Post (paywall)

Wes Moore starts making his case to keep the Commanders in Maryland

This season, Moore has attended a training camp practice; a preseason upset of his favorite team, the Baltimore Ravens; and three regular season contests. On Oct. 5, as the Commanders played the Chicago Bears on the field, he made his own moves off it. He met with new Commanders managing partner Josh Harris for about 30 minutes in Harris’s suite. Then, outside the Maryland-owned suite where he would watch the game, Moore ran into team president Jason Wright.

In 2021, Wright told Moore, his best efforts to give tickets away still resulted in only a “half-full” stadium. Now the stands were packed. The Commanders reported a sellout that night against the Bears — and for the other four home games they have hosted this season.

“It’s not just palpable; it’s contagious,” Moore said in October, referencing positive energy around the franchise. “Honestly, it’s been something that’s been so long overdue for Commander fans. … Seeing how excited folks are now about this team, about the new ownership, about a new vision, about a new direction, about the chance of having a winner, that matters. And it changes our psychology for being here.”

When the battle for the stadium picks up, Moore has the most to lose if FedEx Field isn’t replaced by a gleaming, multibillion-dollar stadium and a mixed-use development to attract year-round activity in Maryland. Moore called his efforts to persuade the team to stay in Landover “very aggressive.”

“If the deal had to be done today, Prince George’s [County] is in a great position,” Clower said. But he pointed out Harris’s group seems willing to wait for D.C. and Virginia to get the legislative help they need because it could help increase competition.

Roger Noll, a professor of economics emeritus at Stanford, said Harris’s land in Maryland is only a small advantage for the state because the cost of land (millions) will be dwarfed by the cost of the overall project (billions).

“By far the most important thing is going to be the willingness to pay,” Noll said. “How much money is the state or local government going to commit to the project?”


Commanders.com

Three keys to Washington upsetting the Dolphins

1. Avoid getting beat over the top.

Here’s a stat that sums up the Commanders’ biggest priority this weekend: the Dolphins create more explosive plays than any other team in the league, while the Commanders have given up a league-leading 49 pass plays of at least 20 yards.

Of all the No. 1 receivers Washington has faced this season, none are playing as well as Miami’s Tyreek Hill. Not only does he lead the league with 1,324 yards — he has a realistic shot of being the first receiver in NFL history to hit 2,000 yards — but he also has the most yards after the catch (524) of any receiver. He averages 15 yards per reception, and he has 21 receptions of at least 20 yards.

His counterpart, Jaylen Waddle, has been half as productive but almost as potent, catching 69% of his targets. He’s reported to have a 40 time of 4.37, and he’s used that speed on several occasions this season.

It’s a difficult matchup for the Commanders, who have often struggled to contain the NFL’s better receivers. A lack of communication in the secondary has led to wideouts being wide open and finishing plays in the end zone. Through 12 games, the Commanders have given up more passing touchdowns (28) than any other defense.

Hill and Waddle are going to have solid games on Sunday. That’s as much of a statement on them as it is Washington’s defense. No other team has found a complete answer for them this season, and it’s hard to imagine that Washington will completely solve its problems in just a few days.

However, the Commanders can still limit the explosive plays. They’ll need to give Hill and Waddle plenty of cushion to avoid giving up plays behind the secondary. They give themselves a better chance at forcing the Dolphins to march downfield on longer drives.

If the Commanders fail to do that, it’s almost guaranteed to be a long day.


Sports Illustrated

Washington Commanders’ Ron Rivera on Defending Tyreek Hill: ‘Stay Deep!’

The Washington Commanders face the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, and Ron Rivera has detailed how he plans to stop receiver Tyreek Hill.

With Ron Rivera taking over the defensive play-calling after Jack Del Rio was fired, his attention in game planning is focused on one weapon at Tua Tagovailoa’s disposal - Tyreek Hill.

The speedy receiver already has 1,324 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season as he has continued his blistering form from last year.

So, how does Rivera plan on stopping him?

“Stay deep,” Rivera said. “I mean, you have to make sure there’s somebody over the top of him. I think it also tells you that you’ve also got to make sure that you are playing to your leverage. You have to understand where your safety help is, where the linebacker help is, or where the corner’s helping if he’s inside. I mean, you have to know those things going in if you’re the one that’s over the top of him or inside of him, or outside of him.”


Riggo’s Rag

5 sneaky threats the Commanders should worry about vs. Dolphins in Week 13

Christian Wilkins is the biggest name among the sneaky threats for the Miami Dolphins who the Washington Commanders should worry about in Week 13.

Commanders must double Christian Wilkins

He doesn’t have a single Pro Bowl nod or any All-Pro recognition, but Christian Wilkins is one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the NFL. The 27-year-old has generated 6.5 sacks and 20 pressures in 2023 - career-high tallies.

Wilkins is winning with quickness and strong hands technique, but his best method of getting to the quarterback is via raw power. He showed that off with this bull rush to collect a sack against the New York Jets, highlighted by Jason Sarney of Dolphins Wire.

Eric Bieniemy should keep things simple and instruct his Washington Commanders blockers to double No. 94 as often as possible. Playing two tight ends would help and leave an offensive tackle on Wilkins’ side of the field free to block down and help the guard.

The risk to putting extra bodies on Wilkins is to leave his destructive partner facing more one-on-one matchups.


ESPN

Washington Commanders’ five biggest what-ifs since 2012

What if they lost to Miami in 2019?

Washington’s win at Miami on Oct. 13, 2019 played a big part in the franchise missing out on the chance to select Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The situation: Washington and Miami were both 0-5 in their Oct. 13 matchup in Florida. Washington had fired Gruden the previous week, replacing him with Bill Callahan on an interim basis.

What happened: With six seconds left, the Dolphins cut the score to 17-16 and opted to go for a 2-point conversion. But quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s receiver screen pass was dropped — it was well-defended regardless — and Washington’s players celebrated its first win of the season. Callahan received the game ball.

The result: Washington finished the season 3-13, earning the second overall pick in the draft. The Cincinnati Bengals, at 2-14, owned the top pick. The Bengals selected Burrow; Washington took defensive end Chase Young.

Had Washington lost to Miami — and the season unfolded the same way — it would have tied the Bengals. Because Washington’s strength of schedule was easier — the tiebreaker for draft position — it would have had the top pick. According to a team source at the time, Washington would have drafted Burrow even with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who they drafted in the first round the previous year, on the roster. Regardless, they would have had more options.

“The thing that’s tough for fans is they say, ‘We’re not going to the playoffs, tank to get the best pick you possibly can,’” Jonathan Allen said. “It does make sense but in doing that guys are giving up their jobs. I couldn’t care less where we draft; I’m trying to win every game. So we were ecstatic. You never know how it turns out. If we lose that game maybe we’re more motivated. But anytime you win you’re excited.”


Podcasts & videos


Washington Commanders Ron Rivera Has Major Challenge Trying to Stop Miami Dolphins Offense | 3 Keys


Miami Dolphins Preview, London Fletcher Stories, and 40 Times | Podcast | Washington Commanders



NFC East links

NFL.com

11-time Cowboys Pro Bowl TE Jason Witten coaches high school team to state title

Witten, an all-time Dallas Cowboys great, coached the Liberty Christian (Argyle, Texas) Warriors to a TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) Division II state championship win over the Regents Knights (Austin), 52-10, on Friday night in Waco.

Witten’s Warriors culminated a 14-0 season in which they outscored their opposition, 716-96, with their closest victory coming by 28 points.

Witten’s squad was led over the season by quarterback Cole Welliver, running back Chase Garnett, receiver Brady Janusek, and his sons CJ Witten, a junior, and Cooper Witten, a freshman, who were among the team’s top tacklers.

Liberty Christian is a kindergarten-through-12th-grade private Christian school with an enrollment of just fewer than 1,300 students.