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Washington Commanders 2023 Season - Studs and Duds

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Commanders 2023 season may go down as one of the most disappointing in the team’s glorious history. Year four under Ron Rivera was supposed to be the year where we finally turned things around. 2022 saw the team finish with an 8-8-1 record and a top five defense. Better yet, the Little Dweeb had decided to sell the team and new ownership had taken control and given fans hope for the future.

Unfortunately, 2023 didn’t go quite as planned. Rivera’s free agent signings and draft picks failed to live up to expectations, and that top five defense from the previous season fell to the bottom of the league. New offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy proved to be a fraud and second-year quarterback Sam Howell had a rollercoaster of a season - getting fans more nauseous than giddy.

Washington now enters the offseason with the number two overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, six picks in the top 102, and a newly minted General Manager - so yes, there are some BIG things to look forward to.

Below you will find my Studs and Duds for the 2023 season. I added a “worth mentioning” category and my players I see as future building blocks for this team.


Studs:

Terry McLaurin: Terry hauled in 79 receptions for 1,002 yards and four touchdowns on the season. This was the fourth year in a row he’s eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards, and he’s done all this with arguably the WORST quarterback play in the league over that span. For this, he needs to be applauded!

Brian Robinson: Robinson, in his first full season as “the guy”, totaled 1,101 yards from scrimmage and saw the endzone nine times DESPITE complete neglect from Eric Bieniemy and his erratic play calling.

Sam Cosmi: Cosmi was the LONE bright spot on an otherwise abysmal offensive line. The third-year player, making the switch from right tackle to right guard in 2023, was the only Commanders lineman to start all 17 games. He showed extremely well in run blocking and was much more natural in pass protection at guard, despite poor play to either side of him, that he showed at right tackle. He’s one of the few building block this team has on offense.

Kam Curl: Curl was one of a handful of bright spots on an otherwise dim defense. Playing in 16 games, Kam was second on the team with 115 total tackles and a sack and led the Commanders with 74 solo stops, while forcing a fumble and recovering one. He played free safety, strong safety, slot-corner and linebacker throughout the season.

Kendall Fuller: Fuller was the team’s best corner and it really wasn’t even close. I understand the bar was set pretty low, however that shouldn’t take away from his play. Despite missing two games, he tied for the team lead for interceptions with two, had nine passes defended and two fumble recoveries. His 70 total tackles were fourth on the team.

Josh Harris: THANK YOU for getting the team out from under the control of Dan Snyder and for SWIFTLY firing Ron Rivera at season’s end!


Duds:

The Rest of the Offensive Line: This unit was absolutely HORRIBLE all season. Newcomer Andrew Wylie was third in the NFL in opponent sacks allowed (12), and this is with him missing two games to injury. Charles Leno, who missed four-and-a-half games due to injury, allowed seven sacks on the season. The tackle duo combined for a STAGGERING 68 blown block on the year which led all tackle combos. Cornelius Lucas, who took over at left tackle when Leno went to IR, was abysmal - especially in the team’s final game against Dallas, where he allowed an embarrassing FOUR sacks.

Center and left guard was a rotating mess all year, with six different players seeing time at those respective positions. Preseason fan-favorite Chris Paul proved to be a complete disaster at left guard and Saahdiq Charles wasn’t that much better. Rookie Ricky Stromberg played better than the previously mentioned two before he was placed on injured reserve. Nick Gates, another one of Rivera’s genius free agent signings, was a human turnstile at center, and was benched early in the season, only to be brought back out of necessity when Tyler Larsen was injured yet again.

Jahan Dotson: The former first round pick had a sophomore slump to remember. The drops were uncharacteristic for someone touted with “good hands” and the disappearing act he pulled for many games was disappointing. He finished the season with just 49 receptions for 518 receiving yards and four touchdowns over 17 games.

Cody Barton: I don’t believe there was a more disappointing free agent signing than Cody Barton. To have two former linebackers on this coaching staff, and to come into the season with Cody Barton as your starting MIKE linebacker is an embarrassment and indictment on just how bad Rivera and Del Rio are at evaluating talent.

Emmanuel Forbes: It was a brutal rookie campaign for the “slender” cornerback. He was thrust into a confusing Del Rio defense and was asked to play coverage (match-up man) that was not tailored to his strengths. He was subsequently benched and his confidence took a massive hit because of it. He was brought back in a few weeks later and blown coverages, poor tackling and some nagging injuries ended his rookie season in massive disappointment. For someone hyped to be a turnover machine, he managed just one interception on the season.

Camaron Cheeseman: The guy had just one job; to snap the damn football, and he couldn’t even do that. To make matters even worse, Rivera traded up in the 2021 draft to take this guy!

Commanders Coaching Staff: This was a bottom three coaching staff in the entire NFL. I’ll be shocked if anyone from this group (maybe with the exception of Bieniemy) is hired again in 2024.

  • Ron Rivera: Ron constructed this terrible roster and now he leaves with the cupboards really bare. We essentially wasted four years on a “plan” that has probably set us back another three! The only silver lining here is he left us with the second overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft and six picks within the top 102.
  • Eric Bieniemy: Watching what Bobby Slowik has done with rookie CJ Stroud just leaves me scratching my head and asking myself - what the heck was Bieniemy thinking! hiis “my way or the highway” attitude imploded in his face, and he’ll be lucky to land another coordinator job in 2024.
  • Jack Del Rio: The results of the Commanders 2023 defense is what you get when you have a stubborn dinosaur running a top five defense from the year before, but without key players at certain position and refusing to adapt his scheme to his players.

Worth Mentioning:

  • Sam Howell: Howell had his ups and downs during the season, but when you throw 21 interceptions, get sacked 65 times and have a QBR of 42, that points to some major problems. When protected, Sam did show some nice traits, including a big arm and nice accuracy. He also has the ability to scramble and make things happen when the play breaks down. Unfortunately, Eric Bieniemy did the young man no favors with his play calling, and a porous O-line couldn't protect him (wonder who saw this coming).

  • Jamin Davis: Before landing on IR with a season-ending injury, Davis was playing the best football of his young career. Through 13 games (all starts) at WILL linebacker, he totaled 89 tackles, eight for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defended and an interception. I actually debated having him on the Studs list.

  • Quan Martin: The season started off slowly for the second round pick, but towards the end, things really started to click. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with two, while contributing 46 total tackles, one for a loss and a sack. I saw enough to be excited about his future here.

  • Jon Allen: It was a very average season for Allen, who through 16 games recorded 53 total tackles, 10 for a loss and five-and-a-half sacks.

  • Daron Payne: Payne signed a massive contract extension in the offseason and had a pretty down year compared to 2022. He totaled 53 tackles, 13 for a loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

  • Khaleke Hudson: Hudson, who didn’t get much playing time early in the season despite fans clamoring for him to play more, came on very nicely over the team’s final eight games. He had 74 total tackles, five for a loss, a sack and two passes defended. He’s a free agent this off-season, so the team will need to make a decision on his future.

  • Logan Thomas: It’s time to move on from the Logan Thomas experiment. The aging tight end looked pedestrian in his route running, poor in his blocking, and dropped more passes than I can remember seeing from him during his time in Washington.

Future Building Blocks (excluding any pending free agents):

  • Terry McLaurin
  • Sam Cosmi
  • Jahan Dotson (semi-reluctantly)
  • Daron Payne
  • Jamin Davis
  • Quan Martin

*Ricky Stromberg (fingers crossed)

*Emmanuel Forbes (holding out hope)


Free Agents Who Should be Re-Signed:

  • Kendall Fuller - I’d even consider a move to free safety
  • Khaleke Hudson - Even if it’s as a backup; he’s shown me something

Players I would Consider Trading:

  • Jon Allen - Would need at least a 3rd rounder

Poll

Who was the Commanders biggest STUD of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Terry McLaurin
    (815 votes)
  • 19%
    Brian Robinson
    (473 votes)
  • 16%
    Sam Cosmi
    (408 votes)
  • 4%
    Kam Curl
    (98 votes)
  • 1%
    Kendall Fuller
    (28 votes)
  • 25%
    Josh Harris
    (610 votes)
2432 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was the Commanders biggest DUD of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    The O-Line (excluding Cosmi)
    (747 votes)
  • 1%
    Jahan Dotson
    (26 votes)
  • 4%
    Cody Barton
    (107 votes)
  • 7%
    Emmanuel Forbes
    (186 votes)
  • 1%
    Camaron Forbes
    (35 votes)
  • 30%
    Ron Rivera
    (732 votes)
  • 14%
    Eric Bieniemy
    (338 votes)
  • 9%
    Jack Del Rio
    (219 votes)
2390 votes total Vote Now