“It’s hard for us just because we know how dynamic he’s been,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “When you lose guys like that, that are productive contributors, the other guys have got to pick up. We like the other guys.”
Washington still has veteran tight end John Bates, known more for his run blocking, and second-year Cole Turner, known more for his receiving. Both, however, are able to handle the other aspects of the position.
Both have three catches for a combined 84 yards.
Washington’s fourth tight end, Curtis Hodges, has been inactive the first two games. As an undrafted free agent in 2022, Hodges was on injured reserve last season because of a thigh injury.
The Commanders will need his skill set to find a way of stopping Josh Allen, who has a knack for avoiding pressure and gashing defenses with explosive plays with either his arm or scrambling for a first down. Allen leads the league with a completion rate of 76.9%, and the Bills’ offense is fifth in yards per game.
“You have to rush, and you have to go, but you have to have that awareness of the pack, so you keep him trapped,” said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. “So that’s the challenge. When a guy’s a big, gifted athlete like Josh is, that makes it just a bigger challenge.”
Payne also said in the locker room that Allen has proven himself as a playmaker.
“You gotta be aware of him as a runner, more so than anything. So, you just gotta keep him in the pocket and having some awareness when we rush him.”
Tight end Logan Thomas is still in the concussion protocol, so he will be unavailable for Sunday’s game. In his place, the Commanders will have Cole Turner and John Bates, both of whom made catches last Sunday, in expanded roles. Turner had two catches for 21 yards, while Bates, who finished the Broncos game with three receptions for 46 yards on five targets, grabbed a 35-yard pass to help set up the Commanders in field goal range near the end of the first half.
It’s been a roaring start from the Commanders defense in 2023.
Cody Barton - Commanders LB
- Player Grade: D+
Cody Barton’s fumble recovery against the Denver Broncos was crucial. Hopefully, it’s also a sign of things to come.
He is an active linebacker, but so far, he has been out of position quite a bit. Barton also has not shown much as either a run-stopper or as a cover presence at the defensive second level.
Jamin Davis - Commanders LB
- Player Grade: B-
Jamin Davis made the hit that caused the abovementioned fumble in the Denver game. It was nice to see the two linebackers combine on such a good play.
Davis’ role is becoming clear. It does not look like he will develop into the every-down linebacker the Washington Commanders hoped for when they drafted him, and that’s fine.
He would probably be better off playing the edge in a 3-4 front. This is because Davis is clearly best near the line of scrimmage chasing the quarterback and shooting gaps on runs.
That’s not what Davis will be asked to do on this defense and so he will remain a decent presence, but nothing more. When it’s all said and done, the Commanders cannot afford to have their linebacking corps become a weak link.
A Commanders win against the Bills would make a major statement of legitimacy in coach Ron Rivera’s fourth season.
The Bills handled the Las Vegas Raiders 38-10 in Week 2. Allen bounced back from his week 1 flub, committing zero turnovers with an impressive stat line: completing 31 of 37 passes (83.8 percent) for 274 yards and three touchdowns.
Washington is tied atop the NFC East division with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. A Commanders win against the Bills would make a major statement of legitimacy in coach Ron Rivera’s fourth season.
For any successful QB/OC tandem, trust is essential. And while Bieniemy and Howell are still getting to know one another, the offensive coordinator spoke Thursday of giving Howell ownership in the offense.
“Well, let me just say this, first and foremost, I learned a long time ago, learned this as a player, and I’ve learned it as a coach,” Bieniemy said.
“If players like certain things, guess what? They’re gonna try their best to make it work. So, as a coach, you always want to give your quarterback that opportunity to have a ranking in certain situations. That way, now you’re giving him the green light to take ownership in what we’re doing.”
This was good stuff from Bieniemy, who explained how he learned a lot from his mentor, Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
And if you listen — or read — closely to this from Bieniemy and listen to Howell after a game, it’s clear he understands the messaging.
With Sam taking ownership with that, it forces him to take ownership, but also, too, it puts that ownership on the players as well,” Bieniemy said.
“So, I’ve been accustomed to learning a lot from Coach Reid. This is something that I’ve learned from him as a coach, and it’s a great deal and a great sense of ownership that you’re giving to your quarterback, so I love it. I like the idea that when we come to the sideline when things don’t go right, he could tell you exactly what happened, or he can tell you, ‘Hey, you know what? I should have did this, or I should have did that. Well, hey, they didn’t give us the coverage, the exact coverage, but this should have happened.’ So, I love the fact that he has that ownership.”
In each of Washington’s two wins, Howell wasn’t celebrating his scoring plays; he was instead focusing on how he took too many sacks. That’s a trait you can’t teach all young quarterbacks, and Bieniemy says it shows that Howell is a coach’s son.
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Greg Cosell: Bills at Commanders In-Depth Game Preview | One Bills Live | Buffalo Bills
Can the Commanders cover the spread vs. the Bills?
The Washington Commanders wrapped their final day of practice before playing the Buffalo Bills at FedExField for Week 3.
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Bleeding Green Nation
It’s easy to get fired up for a Dallas game, or this year’s 49ers game, or any game late in the year with tons on the line. The energy and agitation just come naturally. But a Week 3 road game against the Buccaneers? Are you wound up as much as you need to be? Let’s get you there.
The Buccaneers have beaten the Eagles five straight times, including the playoffs. We haven’t beaten them since 2013. Unacceptable.
In 2018 when we all assumed we’d repeat as Super Bowl champs we rolled into Tampa in week two and got beat by Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeSean Jackson (!). That hurt, and deflated the joy I had carried all offseason. We’re back in Tampa early in the season after a Super Bowl run. History cannot repeat.
The #Bucs will celebrate Ronde Barber's induction into the Hall of Fame in Week 3 when they host the Philadelphia Eagles on MNF.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) June 22, 2023
Barber's 92-yard pick-6 vs. the Eagles in the 2002 NFC Championship game is one of the most iconic moments in team history.pic.twitter.com/ds4vAAC5nW
Twenty years later they’ve chosen to have a big celebration for Ronde Barber’s induction into the Hall of Fame during the Eagles game. This is a calculated and deliberate move to rip off our scabs and pour salt in our wounds. Not cool. Do they think this is funny? Do they think the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans are some kind of joke?
Big Blue View
Who played well for the Giants on Thursday, and who did not?
Third-down play — The Giants gave up first down on 9 of 16 third downs (56.3%). The 49ers were 7 of 10 on third down in the first half.
The Giants gave up on third-and-15, third-and-13 and a touchdown on third-and-5 from the 9-yard line in the same drive. They gave up first downs on a third-and-12 (via roughing the passer on Leonard Williams), two third-and-8 situations (one via penalty — illegal contact on Kayvon Thibodeaux). That is a lot of missed opportunities to get off the field.
On offense, the Giants were just 3 of 12 (25%) on third-down conversions. Much of that was due, of course, to pressure from the San Francisco pass rush. The 49ers possessed the ball for a ridiculous 39:10 to 20:50 for New York.
Darren Waller — Not a great night for the player who is supposed to the player whom the Giants’ passing attack is built around. Waller had just three catches for 20 yards. He had a drop on a pass that would have been a first down, and had the potential to be a bigger play. He couldn’t haul in a high throw from Daniel Jones — which coach Brian Daboll said was a misfire by Jones rather than a play Waller should make. Thing is, all summer I watched Waller make catches like that. Most egregiously, he did not seem to make an aggressive enough effort to snatch the ball on a pass that ricocheted off his hands and turned into an interception. The Giants need more from him.
Running game — Without Saquon Barkley, the Giants barely tried to establish any type of running game. They finished with 11 rushes for 29 yards, a few of those scrambles by Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor. Matt Breida led the Giants with 17 yards on four carries. He did have an 8-yard touchdown run, but the Giants’ ground game was mostly non-existent.
The Athletic (paywall)
Aside from an inspired second-half comeback win over the Cardinals in Week 2, the Giants have been thoroughly outclassed this season. They’ve been out-scored 70-12 in their two losses to the Cowboys and 49ers. These types of lopsided games weren’t supposed to happen to a Giants team that made major investments to upgrade the roster that got pummeled 38-7 by the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round last season.
“It’s been a lot of football that we don’t feel like is reflective of our best and what we’re capable of and we feel like the fans deserve, the organization deserves,” tight end Darren Waller said.
A makeshift offensive line against one of the most formidable pass rushes in the NFL wasn’t a recipe for success. The Giants were completely hopeless with an offensive attack reliant on max protection just to complete short passes.
Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 22-of-32 passes for just 137 yards — a minuscule 4.3 yards per attempt. Jones completed just 2-of-7 passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air. His completions traveled an average of 3.7 yards in the air.
Pairing the Giants’ poor tackling with the 49ers’ dynamic skill players was a recipe for disaster. Tackling wide receiver Deebo Samuel (six catches, 129 yards, one touchdown) and tight end George Kittle (seven catches for 90 yards) is like wrestling alligators, and the Giants weren’t up for the challenge. The 49ers gained 215 of their 310 passing yards after the catch.