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Daily Slop - 8 Dec 23: ‘Development Friday’ - Sam Cosmi, Sam Howell, Eric Stokes

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

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NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Evaluating Sam Cosmi’s development at right guard

Looking forward to the future by evaluating the development of RG Sam Cosmi

One of the best traits in Cosmi’s game is his awareness in pass protection. Awareness might not sound all that special, but as an offensive lineman, Cosmi clearly has a strong grasp of the bigger picture rather than just his role within the protection scheme, which allows him to pick up blocks that other lineman just don’t think about.

This is one of the best blocks I’ve seen from an offensive lineman in Washington purely because of the awareness from Cosmi. Back in the opening game of the season, the Cardinals look to bring a simulated pressure, rushing three interior lineman and bringing the inside linebacker up the middle, while the two edge rushers sink back into coverage. At right guard, Cosmi starts this play anticipating having to block the defensive tackle on his outside shoulder. However, as the ball is snapped, that defender widens to attack the edge. Cosmi gets a hand on him to help secure the defender but then leaves him to Andrew Wylie at right tackle.

In the meantime, Cosmi keeps his head on a swivel and scans across the field. He understands instantly that if his defender is widening outside, it’s likely he’s creating space for another rusher to join inside. He spots the center and left guard occupied by the other interior defensive lineman but sees a linebacker joining the rush. He quickly realizes that the linebacker is unaccounted for in the protection scheme, so even though it’s not at all his responsibility to get back across to the left side of the line here, he slides across and gets there just in time to block the linebacker and allow quarterback Sam Howell to step up in the pocket away from the pressure.

It really was an outstanding play from Cosmi as it was one that not many offensive lineman would have had the awareness to make. He spotted that the Cardinals were attacking a weakness in the protection scheme and adjusted to save the play, even when his assignment within the scheme was completely unrelated. That type of awareness is a huge trait that will catch the eye of the new coaching staff immediately.

The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders offensive breakdown: Will Sam Howell be the starting QB next season?

Assessment: The future quarterback view changed over Washington’s four-game losing streak, and it’s not about Howell.

Instead of competing for a wild-card spot, the Commanders will vie with teams at the bottom of the league standings for draft positioning. Projections slot Washington with the fourth selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. At that spot or higher, the team could select a quarterback (LSU’s Jayden Daniels?) or have a realistic chance at exploring a trade-up for Williams or Maye.

Finishing with a top-five selection doesn’t automatically mean Washington takes a passer. It would be a breach of organizational logic if not strongly considered.

Before the Howell-iacs scream about their guy already showing he can play on the NFL level, you’re right. He’s tracking for a 4,000-yard campaign (3,466 with four games remaining) with ample passing and mobility highlights. Meanwhile, Howell’s role in all the sacks allowed won’t be ignored, especially since taking too long to recognize a collapsing pocket began in college. He enters Week 14 with a league-high 14 interceptions, three of which have been returned for touchdowns in consecutive games.

Howell makes impressive plays each week, but he’s been closer to meh than whoa over the last three games. Three games versus challenging defenses remain.

The case for Sam Howell to make his first Pro Bowl

There was plenty of hope for Howell at the start of the 2023 season, but the former Tar Heel has performed above expectations with3 3,466 yards and 18 touchdowns. That’s why you should vote Howell to his first Pro Bowl, **HERE.** Then, come back to read about his accomplishments and vote for him again.

“The kid has some stuff to him,” said assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. “I love what he brings to the table on and off the field.”

Ron Rivera said earlier in the season that Howell was “a little bit ahead” where they anticipated he would be at this stage in his development, partly because of how much the Commanders have had to throw the ball to stay competitive in games. The Commanders throw the ball more than any team in the league, and Howell’s 509 pass attempts are the most among all quarterbacks.

While that is a lot to put on a player with less than a season’s worth of starts, Howell has managed to handle the situation well enough, despite his growing pains in other areas like holding the ball for too long. With four games left on the Commanders’ schedule, he is second in passing yards (3,466) and 14th in completion rate (65.8%).

Analysts, coaches and players have praised him for his poise in the pocket as well the stats that he has put up — he has thrown for at least 300 yards in five games — but Howell doesn’t look too much into his individual stats. Instead, he’s more focused on how he can help the Commanders win more games.

Riggo’s Rag

3 Commanders players with plummeting stock at the 2023 bye week

Some Commanders layers have not lived up to expectations...

Jahan Dotson - Commanders WR

Hopes could not have been much higher for Jahan Dotson entering the season. The wide receiver looked like he could finally become the running mate opposite Terry McLaurin long-term after flashing as a rookie, but the 2023 campaign hasn’t gone according to plan for the player or the Washington Commanders.

Whether it’s the scheme or not is debatable. Dotson hasn’t taken anything like a leap forward this season, struggling to become a prominent feature in Eric Bieniemy’s pass-heavy system and struggling with drops earlier in the campaign.

It’s far too soon to be giving up on Dotson just yet after just two seasons at the professional level. But with 44 receptions for 458 receiving yards and four touchdowns through 13 games, fans have every right to expect more.

The former first-round pick out of Penn State has everything one could look for in a productive NFL wideout. It just hasn’t clicked for Dotson as yet, but a different set of ideas throughout the offseason might be enough for a potential bounce-back campaign in 2024.

Curtis Samuel is out of contract and Dyami Brown might be released under a new coaching regime. Dotson and McLaurin appear safe, but the Commanders will be adding to their pass-catching weapons as a matter of urgency to increase competition and raise standards.

Commanders Wire

Next Gen Stats reveal just how bad Commanders defense is in 2023

Hill had touchdown receptions of 78 and 60 yards, highlighting the Commanders’ inability to limit explosive plays. Here’s this stat from Next Gen Stats, showing Washington’s struggles against vertical routes.

The Commanders have allowed 19 touchdowns on vertical routes this season — eight more than any other team — EIGHT more.

Why is Washington’s secondary so bad? There are several reasons. No team has as many communication breakdowns in the back end as the Commanders. Anytime there is a big play, Washington looks lost and clueless, with players looking at one another, unsure of their individual responsibilities on the play.

One conclusion to draw is the Commanders lost secondary coach Chris Harris in the offseason. Harris left for a job with Tennessee, and Washington replaced him with Vieselmeyer. The Commanders clearly took multiple steps back.

Is it a coaching issue or a talent issue?

Sports Illustrated

Washington Commanders Participating in NFL Front Office and General Manager Accelerator Program

The Washington Commanders will be sending senior director of player personnel Eric Stokes to participate in a unique leadership program.

But there are lots of arms to the Commanders organization and in some of those there is still a focus on developing young talent for future success.

That’s where the NFL’s Front Office & General Manager Accelerator program comes in.

“The NFL is committed to improving diversity throughout the league, and a large part of that is providing leadership opportunities to diverse candidates,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “The Accelerator Program provides our clubs and owners an opportunity to connect directly with some of the finest candidates in the league who they may not know. Our intent is that these efforts translate into more diversity in leadership roles across the League.”

During the event, Stokes and others will participate in development programming that includes practice interviews led by former NFL general managers and leadership sessions from experts in the field.

He will also be exposed to personal development workshops that focus on individual wellness and mental preparedness when seeking out future employment opportunities.

This event was first held in 2022 and this iteration will be the fourth of its kind with the last being a coach accelerator that took place in May of 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Podcasts & videos

Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Bye Week Study: Terry McLaurin | Offensive Line | Jonathan Allen