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Daily Slop - 16 Sep 23: Jerry Jeudy will play for the Broncos on Sunday in Denver

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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Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images

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Practice notes | Chase Young cleared to return, will be active for Week 2

For the first time this season, the Washington Commanders will have their complete quartet of first-round defensive linemen available to them.

Defensive end Chase Young, who missed the 2023 season opener with a stinger that first began bothering him in the preseason, was a full participant on Friday and has been cleared to play in Washington’s Week 2 road trip against the Denver Broncos.

“The young man is chomping at the bit,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters last week. “He’s done everything that he possibly could and he’s getting himself ready to play.”

Young, who started the week as limited during Wednesday’s practice but was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday and Friday, first experienced discomfort in his neck during the Commanders’ preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. He sat out for the rest of that game, and while he did participate during some drills in subsequent practices, he did not play in either of the Commanders’ remaining two preseason games.

Washington Post (paywall)

Commanders DE Chase Young cleared to play Sunday against the Broncos

Rivera declined to give a specific number but said Young will be on a snap count against the Broncos to ease him back without risking further injury.

“Obviously we have to be smart because it’s his first introduction to full contact — full-speed contact — other than what he had in practice this week,” Rivera said. “He had a very good week. The young man’s worked his tail off, and I think he’s done the things they’ve needed to see, so that’s incredibly positive for us moving forward.”

In late December, when Young returned from his major right knee injury for the Commanders’ Week 16 game at San Francisco, the team set a 12- to 16-snap limit. But he blew past it, looking strong over 30 snaps. Young said he wasn’t worried about a limit Sunday, describing his expectations for himself as, “Just to be the best Chase Young I can be.”


Ready to dominate: Commanders’ D-line poised to wreck offenses in 2023

To hear Washington Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen talk, he and his linemates – and the defense in general — might never play a great game. His definition of one will make it difficult to obtain.

“At least 10 sacks, three turnovers by the D-line ourselves,” Allen said. “Definitely a defensive touchdown, probably putting a quarterback out. I mean we would have to just completely wreck the game — and also getting a shutout. High standards.”

“They create a lot of minus plays,” Payton said. “I’m not even talking about rushing the passer. Just within the framework of the run game, they’re really active, and they’re athletic. All of those guys have had great college careers. A lot of them are first round draft picks that are playing well. The defense kind of feeds off that. They’re a handful.”

After that game, when asked if the line took over the game, end Montez Sweat wasted little time answering.

“Hell yeah,” Sweat said. “You see how the team’s shaped up. There’s nothing but first-rounders on the D-line. That’s what we expect to do, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

“I’ve got to beat Chase, Sweat, Payne, I got to get to the quarterback first,” Allen said. “So that’s what we always pride ourselves on — competing. And it’s not just about winning and beating your guy, but it’s about beating your guy faster than the other guy. So we’re always racing and competing and pushing each other and letting each other know when they’re not fast enough.”

Riggo’s Rag

3 areas of improvement for Commanders QB Sam Howell in Week 2 at Broncos

Washington was 2-from-5 in red zone conversion rate against the Arizona Cardinals. That’s 40 percent, which needs to increase versus a defense that’ll be a much tougher proposition to overcome.

This is all about winning individual battles across the board. Terry McLaurin’s clash with All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain II will be mouth-watering, but the onus is also on Howell to make the right reads and adopt the sort of ruthless conviction that made him a superstar in 2020 at North Carolina.

If everything goes well for Howell and he makes the improvements in these specific categories, Week 2 could be his official coming out party.

Commanders Wire

Where did Sam Howell stack up in Total QBR after Week 1?

While Howell certainly had his share of positives and negatives from Week 1, some quarterbacks had a horrible opening performance. Joe Burrow had the worst performance of his four-year NFL career. While Daniel Jones turned in a stinker for the Giants.

So where did Howell land in ESPN’s total QBR after Week 1?

Howell came in at No. 19, with an overall QBR of 42.5.

Burrow was No. 28 at 22.8, while Jones was dead last with a QBR of 10.2.

Josh Allen was barely ahead of Howell with a 45.6 QBR, while Howell ranked ahead of Jalen Hurts, whose QBR was 41.2.

There are no concerns for any quarterback on this list after Week 1. It’s one week. We know Burrow’s QBR will revert to the norm soon. These things even out. Where will Howell come in every week? Ideally, the Commanders would love to see him land in the top 15 weekly. That would be excellent for a second-year quarterback.

Commanders Wire

4 reasons the Commanders should be concerned about the Broncos

The Washington run game was lacking against the Cardinals.

In their 28 carries last week, the Commanders averaged only 3.3 yards a carry. In addition, that low number was while they have a very mobile quarterback in Howell.

The Commanders did not produce a single double-digit run last week. Brian Robinson had the longest run of only 7 yards, while Howell and Curtis Samuel each had a long of 6 yards. That must be better this week, much better. We are certainly hoping Antonio Gibson holds onto the ball better in 2023.

Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Friday Q&A

Q: What was your take on Cody Barton? He obviously has the Defense down as he’s got the Green Dot and was in for every snap.

Whilst he flips the hips and drops into zones, there were a few accounts on X highlighting him getting blocked off the screen in the run game.

I definitely felt that he was a half beat slow in a couple of their longer runs.

A: Oh yeah, someone asked about Barton on my Kam Curl post yesterday so I went back and watched a bit of him (honestly, I did get distracted by Percy Butler, who I think actually had a really strong game as the third safety and could challenge Forrest for playing time, but I digress…)

Barton had some ups and downs. Like in the preseason, there were times he was a bit slow in reading and reacting to runs and got caught on blocks when he should have been quicker to fill the gap. But there were also a few plays where you could see that athleticism shine. He had one really strong read on a running play to the left when he was extremely fast to get outside and prevent the cutback. Unfortunately, he then paused when he got in the hole and allowed the back to bounce his run outside away from him. That’s when Butler came charging in from deep to make the tackle instead (this is the play that made me go watch Butler more).

I think Del Rio was pretty honest about him in his presser this week. He said he was “ok” and that he will get better as he plays more in the system. Have to remember that most of this defense has been in the system for a number of years now and he’s in his first year with the team, so it will take some time. The upside is there didn’t seem to be too many missed calls or plays where players looked confused by what their assignment was, which is an indication he at least handled the Mike responsibilities and communicated the calls well.


Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy set to make season debut Sunday

Jeudy, who suffered a pulled right hamstring Aug. 24 during a joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams and missed the Broncos’ season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, practiced fully all week and will play Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

Asked if Jeudy would be on any sort of pitch count for snaps in the game, Broncos coach Sean Payton said after Friday’s practice: “No, he’s healthy, he’s good.’’

Jeudy’s return should aid an offense that struggled to create explosive plays and scoring opportunities against the Raiders. The Broncos’ longest pass play in the game was a 21-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Brandon Johnson. Quarterback Russell Wilson averaged 6.6 yards per completion.

The team’s best receiving tight end, Greg Dulcich, will not play Sunday and is expected to miss several weeks because of a hamstring injury he suffered late in the first half against the Raiders.

Wide receiver KJ Hamler, one of the fastest players on the team, is not on the current roster because of a heart ailment that is being treated with medication, and wide receiver Tim Patrick suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in the first week of training camp.

Washington Post (paywall)

Stats of the week: So many starting QBs, plus the Broncos’ home-field edge

24 different starting QBs

No two teams have had more turnover at quarterback than the Commanders and Broncos in recent years.

Since 2016, when Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos have started 11 quarterbacks and running back Phillip Lindsay. (Lindsay opened Denver’s 2020 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the wildcat, and Kendall Hinton, a practice squad receiver, played the remainder of the game while the team’s four quarterbacks were ineligible because of coronavirus protocols.)

Washington, meanwhile, has cycled through 13 starting quarterbacks in that span, and the turnover for both teams doesn’t stop there. Combined, the Broncos and Commanders have had four controlling owners, nine head coaches (including interims), 12 offensive coordinators and eight defensive coordinators since ’16.

.627 home winning percentage

Denver has sold out 433 consecutive home games, an NFL record for a single city, dating back to Week 1 of the 1970 season.

The Broncos are also one of seven teams with 300 home victories since their inception, in 1960, and boast the NFL’s sixth-highest home winning percentage, .627 (300-178-7). Washington is 2-6 when facing the Broncos on their home turf.

The Athletic (paywall)

Why it’s on Broncos QB Russell Wilson to close the GAP for Denver in close games

Russell Wilson stood in the middle of a clean, horseshoe-shaped pocket and quickly spotted his top target.

It was a little past the midway point of the fourth quarter Sunday and the Denver Broncos, trailing the Las Vegas Raiders by one point in the Week 1 opener, faced a second-and-11 at their own 24-yard line. Courtland Sutton ran a comeback route that turned him toward the quarterback right at the first-down marker. He settled comfortably between defenders in the Las Vegas zone, free of contact. The Broncos easily picked up the blitzing Raiders linebacker, leaving Wilson with a clear view and a clear passing lane. It should have been an easy pitch-and-catch that extended a potential game-winning drive.

But Wilson appeared to rush his footwork and the throw to follow. The ball spiraled toward Sutton’s feet, and the veteran was unable to scoop the pass before it thumped into the rain-drenched grass. Two plays later, the Broncos punted, never to see the ball again, as the Raiders melted away the clock.

In the Super Bowl era, which dates back to 1966, there have been 51 teams that played their opening two games at home and lost both, according to Pro Football Reference. Only two of those teams went on to make the playoffs. For the Broncos to avoid a battle with that daunting history, chances are they will need to prevail Sunday in a close game. Payton told his team after Sunday’s loss that those kinds of contests aren’t going anywhere. They are the way of life in a sport played on a razor’s edge. Crisper execution from every phase will be required.


Sean Payton no stranger to Commanders coach Ron Rivera

Payton and Rivera overlapped in the NFC South for nine years during Payton’s extended run as New Orleans Saints coach and Rivera’s nine years with the Carolina Panthers until he was fired after Week 13 in 2019. But the two arrived at their jobs from opposite sides of the ball, Rivera with his career as an NFL linebacker as well as a longtime defensive coach, while Payton built a long career as a talented offensive playcaller.

Payton said it starts with how the Broncos deal with the Washington defense’s power at the point of attack.

“It’s hard to deal with elite players,’’ Payton said when asked about Payne and Allen. “If there’s an elite corner, you can say, ‘We’re going to throw over here.’ When you deal with elite ends, you might be able to nudge one of them. To your question — when it’s inside, which way is the center turning? If I’m the guards, I’d like the center to come to me. I think, to your point, there are some different challenges in protection that maybe are a little different with an end.’’

Riggo’s Rag

Betting analyst says to trust defenses in Commanders-Broncos matchup

BetSided NFL betting analyst Iain MacMillan isn’t sold on Sam Howell and the Washington offense, but he does love the defense against Russell Wilson and Denver.

There isn’t any value in betting the spread in this one for BetSided NFL betting analyst Iain MacMillan. He believes it’s set at the right number, so instead he’s looked to the total. MacMillan isn’t particularly high on Sam Howell after his performance against Arizona, so the under will be his play.

“The Commanders, who were one of the biggest favorites of the opening week, managed to just barely sneak by the Cardinals, and it was largely due to their poor offense. They gained just 3.8 yards per play, the sixth-fewest amongst all teams. Now, they have to play a much better Broncos defense at Mile High Stadium. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Washington was good on defense with their loaded defensive line. MacMillan referenced that they only allowed 3.6 yards per play in Week 1. When it comes to Denver’s quarterback, he isn’t sold.

“Russell Wilson looked better than he did last year, but he still had a very average performance. I think the best thing to do in this game is bet on good defense and bad offense. Take the UNDER.”


Podcasts & videos

Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Chase Young Will Face Denver Broncos | Sam Howell and Montez Sweat Keys to Win

NFC East links

Washington Post (paywall)

One key thing to know about every Week 2 NFL game

Giants (0-1) at Cardinals (0-1), 4:05 p.m., Fox: At least the Giants escaped becoming a historical footnote in their prime-time 40-0 shellacking by Dallas on Sunday night. The team’s record for the worst shutout loss (45-0 to the Eagles in 1948) did not fall and neither, mercifully, did the all-time worst shutout loss in regular season history, the Cincinnati Reds’ 64-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1934.

Jets (1-0) at Cowboys (1-0), 4:25 p.m., CBS: The Cowboys generated pressure on 62.7 percent of the Giants’ dropbacks (23 of 37), the fourth-highest rate in a game since 2019. Eight defensive players generated multiple pressures, including four with at least five pressures, and that bodes ill for Zach Wilson, who’s 8-14 as a starter.

Commanders (1-0) at Broncos (0-1), 4:25 p.m., CBS: Russell Wilson went 6 of 7 for 68 yards and two touchdowns on passes of 10-19 air yards last week. On such passes last season, he threw for four touchdowns, with six interceptions.


The Jalen Hurts-AJ Brown ‘drama’ embodies the Eagles’ expectations

It’s now Super Bowl or bust, but the road to the big game is rarely as smooth as it was in 2022

Jalen Hurts and wide receiver AJ Brown were caught having an exchange on the sidelines. The incident was compounded by the receiver not sticking around to talk to the media after the 34-28 win over the Vikes.

Here’s the tiff, which isn’t really anything as evidenced by Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit failing to even acknowledge it in real time.

Hurts also did his best to minimize the drama.

“I think everybody wants to make plays and everybody wants to contribute,” the QB said about Brown. “I have no worry about him. He’s a great player, a great teammate, a great friend, and we’ll do anything and everything to win.”

That’s top-notch player speak, and I trust it considering how hesitant new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was to go away from D’Andre Swift and a dominant run game. Hurts didn’t have to drop back much, and when he did throw to Brown, the 25-yard score was overturned via a holding call.

If they had lost then the Brown stuff legitimately enters the news cycle, and reasonable fans have to discuss it (as opposed to sports bloggers grasping for clicks).

Bleeding Green Nation

Avonte Maddox Injury: The Eagles CB could miss the rest of the season, per reports

The veteran cornerback has had some rough injury luck during his NFL career.

Cornerback Avonte Maddox left Thursday’s game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. It is now being reported that Maddox could miss the remainder of the 2023 NFL season after suffering what is thought to be a torn pectoral muscle. The CB is getting a second opinion, but expectations are low.

The Eagles entered the game against Minnesota with a depleted cornerback unit since James Bradberry was still in concussion protocol, and possibly losing Maddox for the year is a tough blow for that group.

NFL league links


Washington Post (paywall)

After a lousy Week 1, NFL coaches are rethinking the preseason

The NFL is now three years into its revamped schedule, featuring one fewer preseason game and one additional week of the regular season (with more teams reaching an expanded postseason as well). It’s fair to surmise that after a Week 1 that was among the poorest played and least competitive in recent history — marked by some significant injuries and inept offensive performances — not all the rank-and-file are loving it.

Commissioner Roger Goodell heralded the schedule alterations as “a monumental moment” in league history, but debates rage and theories abound about the importance of exhibition football and how necessary it is for key players. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to the changes at a time when consumer demand and interest in exhibition football was bottoming out — as always, follow the money — and when prominent coaches were calling for fewer fake games and a more holistic approach to the preseason. And now — with more teams than ever choosing to sit top players for the entire preseason, or nearly all of it — some prominent coaches are again calling for change and rethinking their own approach to the summer after watching their ugly game film Monday morning.

“On second thought, if I had to do it over again right now, I would say, yeah, I would have played starters one or two drives in the preseason,” said Nick Sirianni, coach of the reigning NFC champion Eagles, after a blemish-filled Week 1 victory at New England in which his vaunted offense sputtered. The Eagles looked slightly better in Thursday’s mistake-filled win over the Minnesota Vikings, but the sideline disagreement between quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver A.J. Brown, and the box score — which showed 48 rushing attempts and only 23 passes — suggested an offense still shaking off the cobwebs. Sirianni admitted he was jotting notes to himself on the sidelines during Philadelphia’s opening game about possibly playing MVP-candidate Hurts more in the 2024 preseason.

Every rule change and point of emphasis in this league is implemented to enhance scoring and the downfield passing game. Yet only six quarterbacks — Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Mac Jones, Derek Carr and Jared Goff — threw for even 250 yards in Week 1, while 15 teams had starting quarterbacks who threw for 200 or less.

A shocking 14 teams scored 17 points or less in regulation, and sloppy football — even by Week 1 standards — prevailed. Turnovers spiked, sacks soared, and yards per play and points per drive plummeted. (You have to go back to the relative dark ages of 2010 to find fewer points per drive in an opening week). The opening week included 37 passing touchdowns, and, gulp, 25 picks.

The Athletic (paywall)

Al Michaels Q&A: On criticism, dinner with John Madden, working with Kyle Shanahan

You’ve been in the business a long time, and I know that you read a lot of stuff. Criticism can be cyclical, meaning it’s always everybody’s time at some point, and especially on social media. Last year, we saw Tony Romo get a lot of criticism. It was also the first time where I saw some people say things to the effect of Al’s not selling the schedule enough or Al’s not as engaged as he used to be. How do you approach this?

Look, we live in a world that did not exist 20 or 25 years ago. Everybody gets into the crosshairs at some point. Tony Romo was the flavor of the month when he came in. We’re all going to get it from time to time. Now, when you say “get it,” does this mean that in a country of 330 million people, if 10 people rip you or whatever adjective the internet wants to use, like, the internet blows up? Well, I laugh at that. Because you and I both know that if a million people rip you, 329 million people are not ripping you.