The atmosphere at FedEx was electric and the fans were ready for some fireworks from the new Commanders offense. What they got was a few dampened sparklers and one aerial that went off slightly after leaving the ground. It was the other side of the ball that created the largest boom as Washington's defense rose to the occasion and held an anemic Cardinals offense to just 210 total yards and 9 points.
In the second half Washington did just enough to squeak out the win and remain undefeated in the Josh Harris era. When you turn the ball over three times and muster just 20 points, the usual result is a loss, but the Commanders got away with one against a lesser opponent. It was good to have this game to start off the season because it gives the staff plenty to see that needs to be improved, while also giving the younger guys the confidence that they can overcome adversity and win a football game when the situations were not exactly ideal.
Below are my Studs and Duds of the game followed by some notes/observations.
Montez Sweat - Sweat played absolutely outstanding against the Cardinals. He was a one-man wrecking crew, notching five tackles, 1.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four pressures.
Sweat with the HUGE strip-sack and Payne with the recovery!!! pic.twitter.com/KsSw4W9rtg— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Kam Curl - Curl led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo), had a tackle for a loss and a pass defended that was nearly an interception near the goal line. Kam was all over the field for Washington and was instrumental in the win.
GREAT play on 3rd down by Curl! pic.twitter.com/eFljb6g89E— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Daron Payne and Jon Allen - Payne and Allen were their usual menacing selves - even though they both drew a considerable number of double teams during the game. The dynamic duo combined for five tackles, a sack, four tackles for a loss and multiple pressures.
Payne is a damn BEAST!!! pic.twitter.com/XwYUPkbwPF— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Jon Allen with the BIG sack! pic.twitter.com/wp9wVhCXmd— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Commanders Fans - The fans came out and packed the house. This was the first time in a LONG time that I can remembering seeing FedEx that packed with our own fans. Kudos to everyone who came out to support the team!
Washington's Offense - This was a very sloppy win and against a better team this would have probably ended up a loss. The team looked mentally unprepared (yet again), and showed they lacked the necessary discipline with three turnovers, six sacks allowed and eight penalties. The new offense managed just 20 points and 248 total yards on the afternoon. The rushing attack was severely lacking with Brian Robinson being held to 59 yards on 19 carries with a long of just seven yards.
I’m not about to pin this on Eric Bieniemy, as the turnovers and penalties really halted some promising drives, however, this offensive line is going to have to improve a LOT and get more help blocking the edges if we want to score more than 20 points per game.
Logan Thomas - Thomas had three drops and allowed a sack on the afternoon. His stat line may not look terrible (4-43), but the bad outweighed the good.
Andrew Wylie - Ugh. Not much more to say here. Wylie was what many of us thought he would be - a liability at offensive tackle. He allowed multiple pressures on the afternoon and was the least effective blocker along Washington’s front five. It’s clear he can’t handle speed off the edge, and he remains a liability to inside moves when he over-sets.
This was pretty bad here by Wylie… ♂️ pic.twitter.com/gOyg44Jff8— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Andrew Wylie has had a VERY BAD game. Allows pressure and gets called for a hold here… pic.twitter.com/GTJRhtz0CI— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Antonio Gibson - The fumbles continue to plague Gibson. His time seeing touches as a running back should be seriously limited. This will be the last year we see him in a Commanders uniform.
I’ve seen ENOUGH of Gibson as a RB . Give the rookie the extra carries pic.twitter.com/WQuVJTi91q— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
Cody Barton - Barton looked pretty pedestrian in his Washington debut. In the play below he looks disinterested as he watches James Conner run right by him without any attempt to slow him down. I saw him more than few times allowing lineman into his body at the second level, and he was a step slow getting to his reads on the afternoon.
Cody Barton just watches James Conner run right by him for a big gain… pic.twitter.com/zHh0M32061— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
- Sam Howell was not sharp, but he made some big plays when they needed to be made - and for that, I give him some credit. What I liked is that he took accountability for his mistakes and said they needed to be much better. I do, however, think he may have had some issues due to that big hit he took from White early in the game (even though he said he was fine), so I will cut him a bit of slack. But...that man can really sling it!
Howell showing a bit of Mahomes here pic.twitter.com/JhcpDgeyZz— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 10, 2023
- Curtis Samuel led all Washington pass catchers with five receptions for 54 yards. It’s nice to see him used in this offense.
- Rookie Emmanuel Forbes had a pretty solid debut. He recorded three tackles, one for a loss and had two passes defended (one that should have been intercepted to end the game) on the afternoon.
- James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill were disruptive on the afternoon. They filled in admirably for a missing Chase Young and it seemed the Commanders didn’t miss a beat defensively.
- Darrick Forrest can really lay the lumber when he comes up for a tackle.
- Rookie second round pick Quan Martin recorded zero official stats and was called for a penalty on special teams.