The Washington Commanders roster turnaround under Ron Rivera has not been the quickest we've seen around the NFL. But Rivera and staff have continued chipping away at finding the right fits for his team that represents the culture he wanted to establish in Washington since he took over in 2020. The turnover was significant over the past few years, including some failed off-season additions such as William Jackson III, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Carson Wentz. The turnover also included the mismanagement of the offensive line, mainly over the last two years, but in actuality stemming back to his first year when Rivera and future hall-of-fame tackle Trent Williams didn't see eye-to-eye within his first couple of months on the job.
But in the Commanders current state, Rivera has built a roster that, on paper, can seemingly compete this year for at least a wild card spot. Offensively, from a collective weapons standpoint, Washington could be an explosive unit this season. However, quarterback Sam Howell is an unknown product, and the turnover at the offensive line after a drastic regression in 2022 has generated legitimate cause for concern about the offense’s ceiling. Eric Bieniemy has taken on the challenge of unlocking Washington’s offense. Still, he has to find ways to protect his offensive line and quarterback from a schematic standpoint.
On the defensive side, Jack Del Rio has talent at the top of the roster with legitimate depth to support them. His defense has statistically produced two top-ten units out of his three seasons. Still, slow starts have plagued this unit, along with an inexplicable amount of explosive plays over the last two seasons. However, the defense is once again presumably the strongest unit of this team. The secondary has come together this off-season with the addition of Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius Martin. It should improve the rush line upfront and their ability to finish at the quarterback more often than last season. More specifically, defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young, both of whom have big seasons ahead of them. Can Del Rio avoid another slow start this season and take this defense to the next level, where their pass rush is more of a threat, along with their ability to take the ball away?
When considering both coordinators storylines heading into the season, which coordinator has the most pressure on them?
On the latest Trap or Dive Podcast, Kevin Sheehan, host of the Kevin Sheehan Show on the Team 980 and the Kevin Sheehan Show Podcast, believes Bieniemy has the most pressure to produce this year.
“Eric Bieniemy is leaving the shadow of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. He didn’t get a head coaching job after interviewing for countless jobs; only one team in the league was willing to give him a job as offensive coordinator, and it was Washington. So, to me, this is the year of Eric Bieniemy in terms of the coaches. He’s got to do one of two things. He’s got to develop Sam Howell to the point where, even if they go 7-10 or 6-11 at the end of the year, we saw this progress with Sam Howell where it’s like, “Wow, Eric Bieniemy did an incredible job with a first-year starting quarterback, and this guy looks like a starting quarterback in the future.” Or, he realizes it's not going to be Sam Howell, and with Jacoby Brissett and a bunch of really good playmakers and hopefully an improved offensive line, better scheme, and fit, the offense takes a big jump and is a contributor to a winning season.”
What is your opinion? Which coordinator has the most pressure on them? Let us know in the comments.
Listen or watch the full Trap or Dive episode where Kevin Sheehan joins the show to discuss the state of the Washington Commanders with AJ, Dre, and me. Afterward, Hogs Haven’s Mark Tyler joined the show to continue our position group breakdown as we discussed Washington’s running backs.
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