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Daily Slop - 2 Sep 23: Ron Rivera’s team can’t afford to take the Arizona Cardinals season opener lightly

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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NFL: SEP 20 Washington Football Team at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Commanders season opener vs. Cardinals officially sold out

The Commanders’ 2023 season opener, which will be against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 10, has officially sold out. Fans fortunate enough to have tickets will get a firsthand look as Ron Rivera, Sam Howell, Jonathan Allen and the rest of the Commanders squad takes the field looking to start the year with a Week 1 win for the third time in four seasons.

Standing room only ticket are still available and can be found HERE.

Season Tickets are the best way for fans to help the team create home field advantage and enjoy all the excitement for every game at FedExField this season. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets, group tickets or single game tickets can learn more at For those interested in a premium experience with the most benefits, a limited number of suites are available. Single game tickets are on sale now by visiting visit or through the SeatGeek app.

The Commanders will be hosting a 2023 season kickoff party at Franklin Park on Friday, Sept. 8 from 5-8 p.m. Join fellow Commanders fans as the team gears up to start a very special season! You can register for the free event, HERE.

The Commanders recently announced a $40 million investment in FedExField, funding significant upgrades to the stadium infrastructure and the overall fan experience. These upgrades include three new themed suites, new ticket scanning pedestals, point of sale upgrades, and updated Commanders branded imagery around the stadium, as well as maintenance repairs to the bowl and paint around the stadium.

Pro Football Rumors

Offseason In Review: Washington Commanders

No head coach’s seat should be considered hotter than Ron Rivera‘s, and longtime HC candidate Eric Bieniemy is now in place as the team’s play-caller. The unusual circumstances surrounding Bieniemy’s arrival aside, the Commanders have operated curiously — and intently — at quarterback. Rivera’s job security will be tied to a fifth-round quarterback — Sam Howell — the team has backed since his Week 18 debut.

Six teams used the franchise tag this year. The Commanders were the only one to hammer out an extension before free agency. Doing so took Payne’s tag price out of the equation and dropped the sixth-year defender’s 2023 cap hit by nearly $10MM. This, along with some notable cuts, gave Washington some cash to spend. The team primarily targeted middling offensive linemen, though Brissett secured a pay increase after a better-than-expected Cleveland campaign.

Rivera’s instability makes the Howell call one of the bolder moves in recent memory, and it represents a swerve from the Commanders’ 2022 plans. Calling on just about every quarterback available or potentially available, the Commanders showed desperation — to the point they acquired Wentz without any contractual adjustment — last year. This pattern surely would have seen the Commanders place a call to Lamar Jackson, had the Ravens standout been tagged a year prior. Instead, the team joined the rest of the league in passing on a negotiation with the then-franchise-tagged superstar.

This fascinating pivot to a low-cost option offers high-risk, high-reward potential for the Commanders’ coaching staff. Washington does have a history of coaxing quality work from mid- or late-round passers. Even under Snyder, Kirk Cousins bailed the team out — to a degree, at least — of the mess the Robert Griffin III trade-up caused. Howell propping up Rivera (22-27-1 in Washington) would mark a similar save.

Del Rio’s defense bounced back last season, finishing as a top-seven unit in points and yards allowed. Given the uncertainty on offense, the Commanders will likely need a similar effort this year. Their prized quartet of D-linemen being together again should strengthen Del Rio’s unit. It seems improbable Rivera could survive a fourth straight .500-or-worse season, especially with new ownership in place. Howell’s progress will undoubtedly determine if the former NFC champion HC can stave off a second firing at the hands of a new owner.

Commanders Wire

Where are the Commanders valued in Forbes annual team rankings?

Washington came in at No. 8, with a value of $6.05 billion. The Commanders fall two spots, with the Las Vegas Raiders and New York Jets passing them in 2023.

Considering Washington’s issues under Daniel Snyder, a terrible home stadium, lagging ticket sales, etc. and a fractured fan base, continuing to be ranked inside the top 10 over the years was impressive. It’s one of the reasons why the Commanders were considered a sleeping giant.

Harris and his partners knew they were entering the perfect situation. Anyone replacing Snyder would be treated as a hero. That’s been true, and Harris has helped himself by interacting with fans on multiple occasions, including buying them beer.

Business has already picked up since Harris took over in late July. Washington has announced three new corporate sponsorships that include Verizon and Anheuser-Busch. Additionally, season ticket and suite sales are on the rise.

Riggo’s Rag

4 biggest remaining questions ahead of Commanders 2023 season opener

There are still some riddles for the Commanders to solve.

Who steps up in Terry McLaurin’s absence?

Terry McLaurin is the Washington Commanders’ best offensive player. He is their inspirational leader on offense. He is also one of the toughest guys on the squad.

The gifted wide receiver will do everything he can to heal up from his turf toe injury and be ready by the opener. But these injuries are tricky, and they can seriously hinder production. So the Commanders do not exactly know when they will have their captain back at full strength.

Fortunately, this is among the strongest parts of the roster. Jahan Dotson is projected to have a big season, and Curtis Samuel is always capable of producing game-changing plays.

Dyami Brown has shown flashes now that he is being reunited with his college quarterback Sam Howell. Antonio Gibson - who played wide receiver in college - can even move outside in a pinch.

I think the guy most likely to make up for McLaurin’s absence is Byron Pringle. I saw him do it a couple of years ago in a late-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kansas City Chiefs stars Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were in the COVID protocol - Hill would play but only tally two targets. The Steelers were in a late-season swoon but were still in the playoff hunt.

Pringle, quite simply, balled out. It was a windy day at Arrowhead Stadium and all the wide receivers had to make constant adjustments to the fluttering ball. Something the new Commanders’ arrival accomplished emphatically.

Commanders Wire

Ron Rivera Reveals How Commanders Are Preparing For Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals

The Washington Commanders will take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, when Jonathan Gannon will make his head coaching debut.

[T]eams with a new coach looking to make a positive first impression are always a bit of a wild card to draw in Week 1. Commanders coach Ron Rivera explained how Washington is preparing for the Jonathan Gannon-led Cardinals.

“Well, you prepare for what you see through training camp, their preseason games and then you prepare for where they’re from, you know, knowing what they are, knowing who they are defensively from having been in Philadelphia, knowing where their coordinator is on the offensive side,” Rivera said.

“You’ll prepare for what he was last with, but you’ll also keep in mind a little bit of that flavor from where the head coach [Gannon] is from,” Rivera said. “You know, he is from Philadelphia, we know there’s an RPO program that they run and we know there’s certain type of running game they use, certain type of passing game they use, their play action game.

“So, we take a lot of that into account in fact that Jack and I had that conversation today. And so, Jack’s on top of it. I know their staff is on top of it. So, I think we’ll be ready.”

Riggo’s Rag

Commanders have no room for over-confidence against the Cardinals in Week 1

The Commanders might be favored, but they cannot take anything for granted in Week 1.

Hype is running higher than ever. And I am worried as hell.

I’m worried because I remember watching a game early last season between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. It was Week 5 and the Jags were trending up. They had just lost a tough game to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. But they had been up 14-0 early in that game before succumbing.

In the two weeks before that, they had throttled two teams with visions of the playoffs – the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers – by a combined 62-10. The Jaguars had been bad for a long time, but now they had a good young quarterback and an improved roster.

Now, the sky was the limit.

They had a home game in Week 5 and the Jaguars were favored by seven. Jacksonville was not a team typically favored by that margin. At least not since the heady days of Blake Bortles. But they were hosting the Texans, and everybody knew Houston was the worst team in the league.

Some great quarterbacks have two first names. Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence. Well, Houston was so bad that their quarterback had two last names – Davis Mills.

There was no way the Texans were going into Jacksonville and beating the Jaguars. Except they did.

So don’t tell me that the Arizona Cardinals can’t beat the Commanders come Week 1. The NFC West outfit – without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, without J.J. Watt and Isaiah Simmons – the team who is already being accused of tanking before the first tackle of the season – can absolutely, positively beat Washington.

I don’t think they will. But if you think they can’t, you haven’t been paying attention.

Commanders’ athletic training staff relies on hard work, adaptability and camaraderie to rise to preseason occasion

Washington’s athletic training staff is hustling because they are putting in non-stop serious work during preseason to meet the demands of a grueling time of year. To ensure they are able to provide the best care to the team throughout these intense weeks, constantly keeping their heads on a swivel, working hard and leaning on the camaraderie they have developed within the department is vital.

Operating with this mindset for 90 players and over a dozen coaches all day, almost every day is not easy. The trainers know that, while their job is to (at times quite literally) fill up the cups of the players, they also need to find bits of time and space to fill up their own cups.

Many trainers try to squeeze in workouts whenever they can. Music and even trivia are played often during treatment. McCracken stressed the desire for the training room to “not be like a hospital setting.” Turning to one another on staff also helps make sure the work is high quality.

“If someone’s having a hard day or maybe they have a case with an athlete that they’re struggling with, we help each other out,” McCracken said.

Being there for each other is as important to the job as having a stim or rolls of athletic tape on hand. They wear earpieces at practice to talk to each other. Shared digital platforms provide streamlined ways for everyone on the athlete wellness and player performance side to stay looped in on players’ statuses. Hagi described it as a real “family” environment.

Podcasts & videos

NFC East links

Pro Football Focus (subscription site)

Updated NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams: Strengths, weaknesses, rookies to watch and more

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest weakness in 2023: Coverage between the numbers

There weren’t many consistent weaknesses for the Eagles in 2022, but their middle-of-the-field defenders were often exposed in big spots. The Super Bowl was a microcosm of this, as the Chiefs picked on Philly’s linebackers as well as Avonte Maddox in the slot. T.J. Edwards, the best player among the group, departed along with Kyzir White and safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps.

5. Dallas Cowboys

Biggest weakness in 2023: Quarterback Play

Dak Prescott suffered through arguably his worst season as a pro in 2022. He led the league in interceptions despite missing five games with injury. He posted a mediocre 68.2 passing grade for the year and had more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws. Prescott was very inconsistent when he was healthy, outside of two excellent performances against overmatched Chicago and Tampa Bay teams. Dallas was short on weapons last year, but Prescott needs to be better if the Cowboys are going to make a championship run in 2023

18. Washington Commanders

Biggest strength in 2023: Coverage

Washington’s secondary kept the team in most of its games despite the offense’s struggles to score. Kamren Curl finished last year with the second-best overall grade among all qualified safeties, leading a unit that allowed 30 points only twice all season. The coverage unit held up their end of the bargain and the addition of first-round rookie Emmanuel Forbes adds another ballhawk to an already solid unit.

20. New York Giants

Biggest weakness in 2023: Back seven on defense

The Giants have a talented defensive line, but their back seven leaves a lot to be desired. Their linebackers were the fourth-lowest graded group in the NFL while their safeties were second-worst. The corners were a little better at 22nd, Adoree’ Jackson being a bright spot. Their end results masked the low-grading profile of this unit, and they will need to be better on the back end to avoid regression to the mean in close games.

NFL league links


Barstool Sports

I Crunched The Average Ages Of Every NFL Team To Put Together This “Official Longevity Disposition - Football Age Report Tracker” (OLD-FART)

Random Fact: The only date that isn’t at least one active player’s birthday is October 27th

I did a Twitter Q and A on NFL age and someone asked if there were any dates in which no active player had a birthday on. A totally random and meaningless question so, of course, I dove right into it. The fact that there is an open date with no player’s birthday out of some 1,700 players is pretty wild if you know anything about the birthday paradox. And October 27th is the ONLY date.