Across the league you can hear collective knives sharpening, the grunts of war, as the hazy skies over DC reveal an uncertain time ahead. Many feel, whelp Danny’s gone, mission accomplished. I disagree. Josh over bid, he brought in a collective group to make the money work and there is a lot of moving parts, different personalities, and maybe ideology in terms of this teams success. Just like how our own government appears gridlocked in petty personal quarrels, we could become gridlocked in an ugly CEO battle. Now personally, I don’t completely expect this, but I do know a lot of changes could be looming for this team if projections across media pundits of Football Gods are correct.
Ron has said Sam Howell is in a competitive environment and is under the gun. JB is no slouch and a seasoned, perhaps grizzled vet. He knows how to stay grinding and work hard to get what he wants. And make no mistakes, he said, clearly, he came here to start. With vision of Geno dancing in his head, Jacoby too, sharpens his knife. He has a solid make up, but nothing special. He could be the better short term option.
What to make of Howell? Howell is a total wildcard. We’ve seen very small glimpses of both his trajectory and what could trip him up. He’s been getting all the reps first team, which seems to be that it’s obvious, JB may be a bit versed, but Sam has the upside. Will Ron finally start to play guys for the future in his fourth year in, in a critical setting? Idk. Ron is a solid guy. He is. This team is a group of good guys I’d suspect. The core holds that line and that’s Ron, not I run into glass doors drunk on pre game night Jay. I looked at Howells Fantasy outlook because really they kind of let you look easier. Most are ambiguous, Sam can blow the doors off, or he can fall on his face type of circle spins. Good maybe to stretch hamstrings but no real true hammer head this guy will throw for this or that. Now, in the grand scheme it’s meaningless, but, with a new OC, a very good trio of passing weapons, a decent trio of RBs, one could argue this starting QB, could potentially end up with a solid look. The team doesn’t get any favors from the NFL. AZ, then a trip to mile high. We at least need splits. We have to beat our division teams, and some decent teams. It is not looking likely but it could be possible. Make no mistake, this is likely a one chance eight mile lose yourself slim shady moment without Dre to save him. He’d better shine or as PFN FF outlook put it:
But if Howell is not on it out the gates or shows continued improvement all season, I doubt he will get this opportunity again as the 2024 QB class is loaded up top with Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, Quinn Ewers, and Shedeur Sanders, who could all hear their names called in the first round.—PFN. That is an official yikes. Is he up for it? Well, he better be!
PFN seems to lean towards Howell as the favorite to start. One can easily assume this seeing he is getting first team reps. This season is make or break here for both guys. PFN again: "Whether or not the Commanders can compete for a playoff spot seems almost entirely dependent on the performance of the club’s quarterback. That’s not exactly a novel idea, as signal-caller production drives most teams’ success. But if Howell or Brissett can play like a top-16ish quarterback, Washington could have a path to the postseason." —PFF. Of course I would have to agree here as this makes sense. It’s also not much in terms of analysis just kind of guessing. I also agree with PFNs take to close the "season projections":
"Rivera probably needs to make the playoffs in order to keep his job. New NFL owners often like to clean house and start fresh in the front office and on the coaching staff, and another season at or below .500 won’t be enough for Rivera to stick around." Pretty safe prediction huh? I’d like to elaborate on this. If they make it he post season, I could see the guys saying meh, we give a two year deal. Win one. But….we pick the FO. Ron announces this is competition on QB, but isn’t that EBs gig Ron? He comes off as Jerry Jones with ethics. I’m in charge. Ron can get a ring, if he sits back, does what he does is keeping this team clean and having a good coaching staff, rather than worry about being the boss. Danny is gone Ron, so why not let the owners pick who runs the team. Matt did a piece on your drafts, not quite impressive. I hope you prove him wrong this year! If you continue to look at the outlooks, it isn’t great.
ESPNs Keim said this as his bold prediction: "Slow starts have been common in Ron Rivera’s first three seasons. Washington started 1-5 in 2020; 2-6 a year later and 1-4 last season. The Commanders then have rallied each year with strong stretches, but the last two years the holes were too deep. So, they will start at least 3-3 and put themselves in position for a stronger season. It helps that four of their first six games are against teams that went a combined 19-49 last year -- and their first two opponents will have new coaches." Our over under is 7.5. We have the 8th strongest schedule. Ouch! Keim himself, did not predict an actual win/loss yet (maybe behind a pay wall) which I get because he closely covers this team and this could change by the beginning of the year. He did have this to say about our road ahead: "Washington must absolutely get off to a strong start because the middle of the schedule looks difficult. With 10 games vs. teams that made the postseason a year ago, there were always going to be tough stretches. But in a seven-game period that begins Oct. 22 at New York, the Commanders play six out of seven games vs. 2022 playoff teams. The seventh will be at New England. In that same sequence, four of those games will be vs. NFC East teams. Washington could put itself in a good situation – or a really bad one. Finishing with games against "AR" and the Jets, the 49ers and then Dallas isn't ideal." This is a grim look at first glance. But there is some light as well. You have to beat good teams to win in the playoffs, why ask for an easy way there? If we are good enough, we will be there. It just truly depends on how well we hold up, how we respond with depth on our injuries, how well we mesh as a team, and how well our QB plays (and of course are coached, acirss the board). I think EB can coach, and I think he should do well enough that he may have a job regardless the year. I hope we give Sam a long look. I feel for JB, but Geno had a unicorn year, let’s see what he does this year.
SI predicted a 7-10 record with Dallas beating us in the closer.
Fox sports Ralph Vacchiano predicted a rougher 6-11 his take was this:
"Sam Howell had better get the Commanders off to a fast start, because the second half of the season won’t be easy. Each of their last eight games come against legitimate playoff contenders. The problem, though, is he’ll face the Bills and Eagles in the first four games, and the Eagles twice in the first half. There won’t be many breaks for the first-year starter to get into a groove." I tend to think that if we depend on Howell to win us games this early in his career, it won’t end well. I would tend to think that we have to play hard nosed football. We have to play improved defense, that creates turnovers, that we have to prepare Sam, or JB, for that rough stretch. Gauging this road, I’d say, JB would be better option. I wouldn’t expect Ron to roll with Sam unless A, he’s much better, or B, it came down from above. I must say it will be interesting to see if Ron kisses the ring, or gobbles it up. Josh is a new guy, his group expects profits.
The 8th most difficult schedule according to ESPN:
Sept. 10: vs. Arizona- W, Cards are in flux, we will be pumped.
Sept. 17: at Denver- W, RWil is the wild card, but if Denver can’t hold him up, and Rus continues to look unpolished, we could steal one by what we did last year, TOP. We have a good defense, use to secure two important early victories.
Sept. 24: vs. Buffalo- L We aren’t there yet. I mean, anything can happen, but I don’t see it yet.
Oct. 1: at Philadelphia- L Div opponents are always tricky to determine, the Eagles have a lot of moving parts. They are well coached and game four is about when it should all start coming together, at our expense.
Oct. 5: vs. Chicago (TNF)- W, Chi has a lot of work to do. They got off to a good start, we should and have to win this game. Fields has to show he can pass. Forbes has to show he can catch.
Oct. 15: at Atlanta- W, Falcons have Riddler at the helm, Sam Howell looks like Robin. I think we can win a lot of gritty games early while not tipping out passing game for the tough stretch ahead. Into the buzz saw we go at 4-2.
Oct. 22: at New York Giants- L
Oct. 29: vs. Philadelphia- W, We start to have to turn Sam loose. In a critical match up, we gain a split.
Nov. 5: at New England- W, Keep Bill out of our stadium with his film crew, we should be able to pull out a win in NE.
Nov. 12: at Seattle- L, Northeast to Northwest, dropped one we should win.
Nov. 19: vs. New York Giants- W, last minute FG.
Nov. 23: at Dallas (Thanksgiving)- L
Dec. 3: vs. Miami- L
Dec. 10: BYE, Ron will finally make some much needed adjustments.
Dec. 17: at Los Angeles Rams- W
Dec. 24: at New York Jets- W
Dec. 31: vs. San Francisco-L
TBD: vs. Dallas- L, Dallas, sweep, we need help to sneak in and Ron just misses his chance.
Day later, news rumbles out, FO changes, Ron retires, and EB probably stays on as new HC with a regular GM. Sam has moments, but he turns the ball over a lot by trying to do too much. He passes for just under 4k for 20/14 clip but also has fumbles. He also rushes for six TDs on the ground. Another year we just fall short. Let’s hope this owner group is good at finding the right guys. I think he has to be better this year, nine wins may get him a fifth, but I think they may nudge him out gently with respect. He should get some imo. I may be hard on him as I’m the boss power drunk ways. But maybe that’s what he had to do too. I’m open to being wrong. Tell me what you think below. Thank you.