Washington Post (paywall)
The Coach Hot Seat Index simply looks at these factors and then assesses the likelihood a coach with a similar résumé would be fired. It doesn’t take into account external factors, such as front office changes, owner sentiment, tradition or the weight of local reputation. That’s why Dallas Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy has a low chance of being fired (two percent), despite speculation that team owner Jerry Jones would consider a change if the team doesn’t advance past the first round of the playoffs. In three seasons with Dallas, McCarthy has a 30-20 record and two playoff appearances, including a playoff win last season. According to historical data, that would not make him a strong candidate to lose his job after this fourth season.
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Rivera appears to be in a sticky situation as the Commanders move into a new era. His record with the franchise is subpar, and like past coaches in Washington, he has moved through a succession of underwhelming quarterback acquisitions, leading to a record of 22-27-1. This year, Rivera will entrust the starting role to Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022, with experienced journeyman Jacoby Brissett waiting in the wings. Whoever is under center will have to navigate playing behind an offensive line ranked 27th by Pro Football Focus heading into the season. Not exactly a blueprint for the franchise to earn its first playoff win since the 2005 season. And if the Commanders do thrive offensively, new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy figures to get much of the credit.
Plus, there is a new ownership group in place that presumably will want to put its own stamp on the franchise unless a terrific season unfolds in 2023. How terrific? History says a coach who stops a playoff win drought and improves his regular season record by two wins — which would mean a 10-7 finish for Washington — would reduce his chance of being fired to less than 10 percent. Oddsmakers, though, give the Commanders the lowest odds of making the playoffs of any team in the NFC East.
Is Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera coaching himself out of a job?
Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi took to the airwaves to summarize his displeasure with Rivera.
“I like Washington, but I don’t trust Rivera,” Lombardi said.
He pointed to miscues with the media that revealed critical lapses in judgment. Rivera admitted to not knowing the Commanders could be eliminated in their Week 17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. He also did not defend new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in the wake of early-camp criticism and regretted not seeing the spark in quarterback Sam Howell that has engulfed Commanders camp this summer.
Lombardi emphasized that seeing Howell in practice and not giving him a chance to play over Wentz and Heinicke is an indictment of Rivera in itself.
Lombardi’s affinity for Howell has left him optimistic about the Commanders, even if Rivera causes him to hesitate. He, like many fans, wished they got a longer chance to watch Howell last season.
Projected lowest-scoring teams
1. Washington Commanders, 310 points
Washington has finished bottom-10 in scoring each of the past five seasons and will now turn to Sam Howell — a 2022 fifth-round pick who attempted 19 passes as a rookie — as its starting quarterback. Perhaps the Commanders have found a diamond in the rough (Howell has looked good during the preseason), but he’s obviously an unknown, and the team’s fallback plan is journeyman Jacoby Brissett. Also shaky along the line, this offense will hope to be bailed out by its terrific WR trio in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel (though McLaurin could miss some time to open the season while dealing with an injury).
The Washington Commanders are about to embark on a new beginning.
Commanders could become a surprise package in 2023
Washington has the makings to finally get over the hump and into the playoffs first time since 2020 when they won the division. But everything must go right within a highly competitive NFC East.
Knowing that Washington needs more punch on both sides of the ball, they went into the 2023 season thinking one thing and one thing only. Creating more turnovers and putting points on the board.
Bringing in offensive guru Eric Bieniemy to bring more out of the offense and drafting ball-hawking defensive back duo Emmanuel Forbes and Quan Martin could help them achieve their goals. Also, everyone in the media believes this team won’t be good in 2023, which is extra bulletin board material working in the Commanders’ favor.
However, with Howell taking over the starting quarterback duties and the return of Chase Young, many believe this team is ready to contend.
We have seen some highs and lows from the Commanders during training and into the preseason despite emerging from their three games unbeaten. In less than a week, we’ll see what Washington is truly made of against the Arizona Cardinals at a sold-out FedEx Field to begin their campaign.
Bullock’s Film Room (subscription site)
Breaking down what we learned during preseason and what to expect as we enter the regular season
We’ve heard Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy all offseason talk about how they want to see Sam Howell get the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of the various playmakers Washington has at the skill positions. In preseason, we saw the Commanders lean into that with various quick game concepts that saw Howell making sharp decisions and being efficient with the football.
The quick game is something I think we’ll see a lot of from the Commanders this season as it suits Sam Howell’s game and it enables Washington to get the most out of their playmakers at the receiver position while also helping protect the offensive line that perhaps lacks elite talent. But you can’t live on quick game alone.
Something Eric Bieniemy’s offenses did lots of in Kansas City was pre-snap motion. We’ve seen offenses in Washington use pre-snap motion plenty before, but a lot of that was receivers motioning across the formation to change the numbers on each side of the field. Bieniemy uses motion a little differently. He’ll often align a tight end or even running back outside before motioning them back into a more traditional alignment in order to give the quarterback as much pre-snap information as possible.
Something else we’ve seen from Bieniemy this preseason is the ability to layer concepts in order to help build up a young quarterback in Sam Howell. What I mean by layering concepts is that Bieniemy will start with a basic concept that he installed early in the offseason and then build on top of that by tweaking different parts of it. That way a core feature of the concept remains familiar to the offense and especially Howell, but Bieniemy can add new layers to it in order to attack defenses differently and help Howell grow.
Podcasts & videos
with Logan Paulsen: why he feels better than you about the OL, how the scheme can help. Based on scheme study, watching practices. A really good conversation about preseason expectations; what players look for, what analysts miss. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/LO0dx9Iw57— John Keim (@john_keim) September 3, 2023
Episode 648 - Guest: @KevinSheehanDC. We spend 30 minutes discussing the name situation...just kidding! We spend that time previewing the #Commanders' 2023 season. Rebirth via the sale, Sam Howell, the offensive line, the defense, Ron Rivera & much more.https://t.co/OP4mb3Ylri— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) September 4, 2023
NFC East links
Big Blue View
Let’s see how the Giants fare in our unscientific ranking
- 4 points: Eagles
- 3 points: Cowboys
- 2 points: Giants
- 1 point: Commanders
The combination of AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith is easily number one in the division. Those are two of the top 12 (arguably) receivers in the NFL. Olamide Zaccheaus is a solid third option who can be efficient with the two targets a game he’ll likely see behind the dynamic duo.
CeeDee Lamb is one of the best pure talents at wide receiver, and the addition of Brandin Cooks is going to be annoying for the rest of the NFC East. Cooks is only 29 years old, and he can threaten defenses at all three levels of the field. Michael Gallup is another year removed from knee surgery and should operate as the ‘X’ receiver for Mike McCarthy.
I was so tempted to put the Giants over Dallas, not due to homerism (I don’t think), but because the Cowboys have receivers on their roster I wouldn’t trust, whereas I trust all of the active receivers on the Giants roster. Still, CeeDee Lamb’s star power gave Dallas the nod.
The Giants’ receiver room is full of competent versatile pass catchers who have upside. Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, and Darius Slayton add an explosive element. Isaiah Hodgins was a steal for the Giants last season and may lead the unit in snaps. Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson are healthy. There’s no clear-cut number-one receiver, but there are plenty of trustworthy options for Daniel Jones.
Both Terry McLaurin and second-year wide receiver Jahan Dotson are underrated football players, and here I am, ranking them last in the division. McLaurin is starting the season injured, which knocked Washington down below Dallas, but he should be back at some point early in the season (I’m speculating). Curtis Samuel is a versatile weapon similar to Parris Campbell. I like their receiving corps and even depth-deep threats like Dyami Brown, but the Giants have more options than Washington.
The deal includes $50 million guaranteed, and a max value of $91.8 million, Pelissero added. The team later announced the extension.
Steele is the latest Cowboys player to put pen to paper on a new deal this offseason, after cornerback Trevon Diggs and safety Malik Hooker each got extensions earlier in the summer.
Guard Zack Martin also got a reworked contract after a training camp holdout, and with Steele joining him in on the list of players who got paid, the Cowboys have prioritized paying the players who protect Dak Prescott.
NFL league links
Over the Cap
The thing with contracts that often leads to the most confusion in the NFL is the concept of how to value a contract extension. A contract extension is typically valued based on the “new money” in a contract. The calculation is simple. Add up all of the money in the contract and subtract from that the money that is owed to the player on his current contract and then you have the new money in the deal. Divide that by the number of new years and you come up with the average per year on the contract.
The valuation in this manner makes sense. Essentially you are buying out a player’s free agency early and this new money is the value you are giving the player. Some constantly look down on this method of contract valuation saying it inflates the contract’s value but when you run through it logically it is the most fair way to value a deal and create a system that allows for teams to be extended prior to the expiration of their current contract- if every player demanded that a current year be ripped up a team would simply wait until the contract expires to make an offer.
However, there are rare instances where teams have agreed to negotiate as if the current contract does not exist. That occurred last season with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and then later with Aaron Donald with the Rams, which is pertinent to the Jones negotiation. Donald had three years remaining on his prior contract at a total value of $55 million. The Rams replaced those salaries with new salaries that totaled $95 million. With no new years added it was clear that this was just being viewed as a replacement contract and that is how we arrived at the value of $31.67 million for Donald.
So when it comes to evaluating offers made to Jones it is important to keep in mind the way that typical contracts are valued to see how the offer compares to the market, the majority of which are valued on the basis of new money.