1. Win back the fans
This isn’t about promotions and gimmicks to get people in the ticket- and merchandise-buying mood, though a heaping dose of Magic (Johnson) wouldn’t hurt. Forget some immediate splash transaction like trading for Lamar Jackson. Harris and his group must focus on turning the fan base around emotionally.
Snyder did the impossible. He turned off countless supporters from a base considered among the most ravenous in all sports for decades. Washington replaced a season-ticket waiting list that stretched longer than the Potomac River with fan apathy and scores of empty seats.
While the Commanders saw the third-highest gain in per-game home attendance from 2021 to 2022 — 10.15 percent, according to the Sports Business Journal — they ranked last in average attendance (58,106) and percentage of capacity filled (85.9). The other 31 teams all reached at least 92.7 percent of home capacity.
The obvious fix is to win more games. Easier said than done, of course. Some new owners feel compelled to announce their arrival with a bold move. In this case, options include a trade or another rebrand. Stadium talk will take time. Thanks to his arrival, Harris needs to recognize that a bump is coming.
Not because he’s a local — raised in Chevy Chase, attended The Field school in Northwest D.C. — or his success with his other teams, the NBA’s 76ers and the NHL’s Devils. The reason is simple: He isn’t Snyder. Lean into that.
Eric Bieniemy could have something up his sleeve for Commanders quarterback Sam Howell.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bieniemy schemes things up to benefit Howell. ESPN’s respected analyst Mina Kimes - who compared the North Carolina product to Russell Wilson - indicated via USA Today Sports that adopting an RPO-based system plays into the quarterback’s strengths.
“He can run. He averaged over eight yards per carry that last year at UNC. Broke a ton of tackles, build-wise almost reminds me of like a young Russell Wilson. So I would not be surprised if the designed QB run is also a big part of the offense, coupled with the RPO. I suspect the Commanders, with their emphasis on the run, will face a lot of single high coverage, so there will be a lot of one-on-one opportunities for Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson downfield. And he can hit those throws. Another thing, he has a quick release. RPOs were a huge part of the UNC offense. They’re also a huge part of the Chiefs offense. You’ve got offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy coming to Washington now. So I expect that to be a big part of this Commanders offense with Howell.”
- Mina Kimes via USA Today Sports
One of the most underrated areas of Howell’s game is his escapability out of the pocket to generate yards on the ground. This was evident when the player’s primary difference-makers all departed for the NFL before his final college campaign, rushing for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Bullock’s Film Room
Breaking down the Arrow concept and how Eric Bieniemy could look to use it in Washington.
The Arrow concept, known to many as “Spot”, consists of three receivers, typically a combination of a receiver, a tight end and a running back. Two of those receivers will work a corner-flat combination, where once receiver runs a corner route from a tight split while the other receiver works out to the flat. The third receiver typically aligns outside of the other two receivers and spots up in between both of them, creating traffic for defenders trying to follow the other routes and giving a quick option to the quarterback.
Different teams will teach the read on this play differently. Some will teach the read to be a triangle read between all three routes. Others will have the quarterback work the spot route to the flat with the corner as an alert option against specific coverages while some will teach the read to go to the flat first and then work back to the spot route inside if the flat is unavailable. The corner route is very rarely thrown on this concept as it’s more there to stretch the defense vertically and create space underneath for the other two routes. More often than not, the ball will go to the flat.
Situationally, this concept is pretty flexible. It can be run on first and second down, third and medium or less and in two minute situations. It’s also a nice concept to call in the red zone.
Every coach in the league will tell you they would love to put their running back in a situation near the goal line where a cornerback is the one defender that has to make the tackle to save a touchdown. For the Commanders, this could be the 220-pound Antonio Gibson or the 228-pound Brian Robinson going up against any cornerback. The average NFL cornerback weighs about 194 pounds, so Washington would definitely trust either back to run over an average corner in that spot and get into the end zone.
The Arrow concept might not necessarily be the most sexy passing concept around that leads to 50-yard bombs down the field, but it’s a core staple of west coast offenses around the league. It’s a reliable concept with answers against many different types of coverages, which means it’s very flexible in the situations that it can be used. Expect to see the Commanders lean on the Arrow concept regularly on first and second down, in no-huddle/two-minute situations and in the red zone.
Washington Commanders defensive end KJ Henry raised money through his name, image and likeness for his father’s kidney transplant.
In Oct. 2021, KJ’s father, Keith Henry, went to the doctor for a quarterly checkup. That checkup revealed Keith’s kidney function had declined to the point where he needed a transplant.
Rather than explain the medical situation to his son in the moment, Keith opted against telling KJ while he was in the middle of his junior season at Clemson. In the spring of 2022, Keith went to Clemson and broke the news to KJ.
“He took it well,” Keith said on Commanders Log. “But I knew it put a stare, a moment on his face that I had never seen before.”
Once KJ learned the severity of Keith’s health situation, he immediately spurred into action, using his name, image and likeness to raise money and awareness for a kidney transplant for his father.
KJ’s cousin, Karen Eaton, was the donor for Keith. The operation was done on July 14, 2022, according to ESPN.
“I think Washington got a steal,” Giuliani said. “He’s capable of anything.”
Jones didn’t start working with Giuliani until his senior year, when he decided to make the switch from defensive lineman to outside linebacker. Technically, Jones had made the switch before; he had alternated between the two positions for most of his college career, but he made the switch permanently heading into the 2022 season.
Mastering two positions is no easy task, particularly at the Division I level. While there is some overlap in terms of responsibilities, both positions require a completely different skill set for players to execute at a high level.
Jones did it in stride, Giuliani said, partly because of his physical gifts. “He’s a good looking kid,” Giuliani said. “Long, strong, good body, athletic.” He has quick, nimble feet that allow him to navigate through plays to rack up tackles.
Many of the traits Jones used on the defensive line were able to be transferred over to his new role. Giuliani didn’t need to teach him how to rush quarterbacks. Jones was already exceptional at that, and the Ragin’ Cajuns relied on that for much of the season.
Check out how the Washington Commanders fared in 2022 and forecast 2023 betting trends. The Commanders finished in last place in the NFC East and were the only team in the division to miss the playoffs. Will things get better or worse in 2023? Dig into the 2023 schedule against the spread as well as significant roster changes, thoughts on futures and more.
Tomorrow is the day...— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) July 19, 2023
Episode 613 - Guest: @PFF_Sam
- viability of Josh Harris having #Commanders undergo The Process & embrace analytics
- why Sam ranked EB as No. 6 OC in NFL
- Sam Howell outlook
- state of team-building at QB
Lots on #Nats & #Orioles.https://t.co/66w3rcRcxl
Kevin and Thom talking about the final days of Snyder. What was the moment they were out on him? Where does this rank in DC Sports stories? All that and more today!— The Kevin Sheehan Show (@SheehanPodcast) July 18, 2023
Find it on all podcast platforms or:https://t.co/lsSiVQkgF8
The we-cant-cal- it-the-Dan-Snyder-is Gone-celebration pic.twitter.com/o0JJ8GXqbs— Dan Snyder Retired Yacht Tracker (@DanSnydersYacht) July 19, 2023
"He has natural instincts, plays football above the neck, and he's always a step ahead. That leads to turnovers, and turnovers lead to W's. I'm telling you, the kid is special."— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 19, 2023
The Ball Hawk, part 3
NFC East links
Bleeding Green Nation
Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders: Terry McLaurin is somehow underrated. He has produced great numbers since his rookie season without really having much at the quarterback position. McLaurin is a serious playmaker and will likely be a factor for Washington this year, regardless of who is throwing him the ball.
Second Team: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles and CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert has ascended since becoming the number one tight end in Philadelphia. Despite being the number three target in the Eagles offense, Goedert still makes an impact with his reliable hands and dangerous running ability after the catch. In 2023, he will continue being one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
Second Team: Darren Waller, New York Giants
Andrew Thomas, New York Giants: Andrew Thomas had a rough start to his NFL career. After being a top five pick in the 2020 draft, Thomas struggled mightily as a rookie. Thomas showed serious signs of improvement in his second season, but it was last year where the left tackle really took off. In Brian Daboll’s offense, Andrew Thomas broke out as one of the best left tackles in all of football. There is all reason to expect Thomas continues his dominance in 2023.
One of the two leading NFC East teams this offseason lost seven starters from the 2023 season, and it wasn’t the Cowboys. Even with the loss of some crucial members on defense and some rotational players on offense, Philadelphia still looks to be a force in the trenches. That was a massive reason for their Super Bowl run last season and it remains a strength of their team. Dallas would have to remain healthy on the offensive line to stack up well against the Eagles in that department, with starters that are ready for that challenge, and depth that is unproven. Outside of the trenches, these are two extremely even football teams that each have a wide-open chance to win the division and make a playoff run.
Saquon Barkley talks contract dispute with NY Giants, getting paid in Bitcoin and the NFL
New York Post
When asked by NFL alum Emmanuel Acho if he would prefer to invest in a six-figure Bentley or a home around the same cost that will “appreciate over time” — with the Giants’ $160 million quarterback representing the house — McCoy chose option two, making it clear, however, that Jones is no dream abode.
“He’s not even a condo, he’s like a garage,” the two-time Super Bowl champion said.
McCoy, who also spent time with the Bills, Chiefs and Buccaneers before retiring in 2021, then remarked how Jones “has a ceiling” whereas “we haven’t seen Saquon Barkley’s ceiling.”
Prior to Monday’s deadline, Barkley expressed in a July 11 podcast recording how he wished to get a deal done.
“My leverage is I could say, ‘F–k you’ to the Giants, I could say, ‘F–k you to my teammates,’” the former first-round pick said on an episode of “The Money Matters” podcast.
“And be like, ‘You want me to show you my worth? You want me to show you how valuable I am to the team? I won’t show up. I won’t play a down.’ And that’s a play I could use.’”
The parties finished less than $2 million apart, sources told The Post.
Dak Prescott was misquoted, according to Cowboys, and actually said he won’t have “tipped” INTs. https://t.co/hQIgY2CBox— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 18, 2023
NFL league links
The devaluation of the position has long been ratified. It does not count as news that NFL teams view rushers as interchangeable, injury-prone and ephemeral. But Monday still felt like another inflection point for the plight of the NFL running back. “This is Criminal,” San Francisco 49ers star Christian McCaffrey tweeted, summing up a raft of reaction from his brethren. “Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position.”
[A]s the passing game has overtaken the sport and analytical insights have undercut the value of running backs, the best youth players will want to play anywhere else. At football’s highest level, even the best backs are discarded by their own teams. It may prompt a sea change in how players are developed.
it’s kinda sad to say this, but it’s gotta be said … I never thought I would see the day where I’m REALLY trying to persuade a little kid to play a different position other than running back …— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 18, 2023
As the salary cap has risen with league revenue, running backs have still seen their salaries shrink. McCaffrey signed a contract in 2020 that paid him an average of $16 million, which has not been surpassed. A running back who played on the franchise tag five years ago would have made $11.9 million. Even eight years back, an eon ago in terms of how much the salary cap has soared, the tag number for running backs was higher than it is today.
Over the Cap
What I did here was go back and look at every running back who entered the league since 2011 and followed a career arc for the players in terms of rushing yards as well as rushing and receiving yards. To keep things more relevant to the discussion I am only focusing on players who passed a specific threshold at least once during the first four years of his career. In both categories the cutoff I am using is 1,000 yards.
First let’s look at the average rushing performance of the players who hit at least 1,000 rushing yards one time in that four year period.
On average there is a very even performance in the first 4 year before a very steady decline should be expected from years 5 through 7 and then most drop out by year 8. The high end performances also drop. Here is how the position compares to the wide receiver position when using the same 1,000 yard cutoff.
The best time for a running back to get paid is after his third NFL season. Four years ago, Ezekiel Elliott held out -- and he ended up with a great contract. https://t.co/WwZwjUnOYg— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 19, 2023
Asked if running backs should fake injuries as a means of holding out, NFLPA President JC Tretter said, "I don't think I'm allowed to recommend that, at least publicly, but each player needs to find a way to build up leverage." https://t.co/XVzbprRPNU— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 19, 2023