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Grading The Season – Washington Commanders vs. 2023 Opponents

The 2023 NFL season for the Commanders looked promising after a 2-0 start, but it ended with major disappointments

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday when the 2023 football season started and now it is 2024 already! The Washington Commanders started the season with a 2-0 record and fans were excited about the prospects of making a deep playoff run. What followed during the remaining fifteen games was one of disaster and total incompetence. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and an assistant coach were fired in late November. In the final weeks of the season, fans were actually cheering for losses and a higher draft pick – they got their wish. Head zcoach Ron Rivera was fired one day after the last game of the year.

Yours truly chose not grade the final two games of the season. At that juncture, it was pointless and most of the grades would’ve been the lowest scores possible. However, we will take a look at the entire season today and provide you with an honest assessment of the 2023 season. These grades are not meant to be a public scolding of the coaches and players, but we’ll be fair with the grades and analyses. Like you have seen in the weekly grades, we will cover each unit and grade their overall performance this season. Let’s jump right over to the details.

Note: There are PFF seasonal ratings today. We’ll also have stats that represent the entire season. You should take notice of the changes.

Offense

There were times when the offense was piling up the points and respectable statistics, but that changed (for the worse) as the season progressed.

Quarterback

Sam Howell certainly had his shining moments, but opposing defenses began to bring the heat to him in the second half of the season and the results were horrific. Jacoby Brissett appeared in two games late in the season, but his impacts are minimal and will not be factored into the final grade.

Howell’s Stats:

388-612 for 3,946 yards, 21 TDs, 63.4 cmp%, 21 INTs, 48 rushes for 263 yards and 5 TDs, QBR 78.9, PFF rating 60.3

Assessment: D

Running Backs

If you’re looking for a unit on offense that had a positive impact in 2023, the running backs would certainly merit consideration. The stats may reflect mediocrity, but a much higher than normal commitment to the passing offense is the undeniable culprit. Look for that to change in 2024.

Stats:

Brian Robinson – 178 carries for 733 yards and 5 TDs, 36 receptions for 368 yards and 4 TDs, PFF Rating 75.3

Antonio Gibson – 65 carries for 265 yards and 1 TD, 48 catches for 389 yards and 2 TDs, PFF rating 66.6

Chris Rodriquez – 51 carries for 247 yards and 2 TDs, 2 catches for 12 yards, PFF Rating 75.9

Assessment: B-

Tight Ends

It’s no secret that the tight end corps struggled this year, but Logan Thomas was a warrior in the first half of the season. His level of play down the stretch suffered due to poor quarterback decisions and play calling. John Bates continued to be a solid blocker and Cole Turner had limited production in 2023.

Stats:

Logan Thomas – 55 catches for 496 yards and 4 TDs, 1 carry for 2 yards, PFF rating 56.1

John Bates – 17 catches for 151 yards, PFF rating 47.4

Cole Turner – 11 catches for 120 yards, PFF rating 62.1

Assessment: C-

Wide Receivers

Prior to the first game against the Cardinals, the wide receivers were expected to generate great stats, many touchdowns, and be the toast of the town. Terry McLaurin lived up to the hype and, to a lesser extent, Curtis Samuel had a solid season as well. The remaining receivers struggled and had less than stellar games throughout the year.

Stats:

Terry McLaurin – 79 catches for 1,002 yards, 4 TDs, PFF rating 75.1

Curtis Samuel – 62 catches for 613 yards, 4 TDs, PFF rating 69.7

Jahan Dotson – 49 catches for 518 yards, 4 TDs, PFF rating 57.7

Dyami Brown – 12 catches for 168 yards, 1 TD, PFF rating 59.0

Assessment: C+

Offensive Line

The offensive line was heavily criticized this season, but they did have an occasional good game. Sam Cosmi was the best player in this unit.

Stats (PFF Ratings):

Sam Cosmi – 80.6

Charles Leno Jr. – 72.5

Andrew Wylie – 69.2

Nick Gates – 66.1

Cornelius Lucas – 62.8

Trent Scott – 59.8

Saahdiq Charles – 55.5

Tyler Larsen – 50.3

Chris Paul – 38.8

Assessment: D+

Defense

The worst defense in the NFL for 2023 belongs to the Washington Commanders. Ranked last. Down at the bottom. Let’s give you the sordid details.

Defensive Line

Washington traded away Chase Young and Montez Sweat earlier in the season and that made a bad situation even worse. This unit woefully underperformed.

Stats:

Jonathan Allen – 50 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, PFF rating 59.7

Daron Payne – 46 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defensed, PFF rating 61.2

KJ Henry – 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, PFF rating 56.9

Casey Toohill – 24 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, PFF rating 52.1

Assessment: F

Linebackers

During the 2023 season, the linebackers slowly improved and it was mostly due to the maturation and progress of Jamin Davis. Even David Mayo improved just a bit, but Khaleke Hudson has shown he can be a quality depth option when needed. Cody Barton became a weekly punchline for fans.

Stats:

Cody Barton – 103 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defensed, PFF rating 53.9

Jamin Davis – 82 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 4 passes defensed, PFF rating 67.6

Khaleke Hudson – 66 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed, PFF rating 64.6

David Mayo – 53 tackles, 2 sacks, PFF rating 55.7

Assessment: D+

Safeties

Kamren Curl is one of the best in-the-box safeties in the NFL. He can play deep and hybrid/linebacker when needed. Quan Martin began to show his talents late in the season. Percy Butler is a liability in coverage.

Stats:

Kamren Curl – 108 tackles, 1 sack, 5 passes defensed, PFF rating 66.6

Percy Butler – 56 tackles, 8 passes defensed, PFF rating 62.7

Quan Martin – 39 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs, PFF rating 65.4

Assessment: C+

Cornerbacks

This group got progressively worse as the season unfolded and they never recovered. Emmanuel Forbes is probably a first round bust and Benjamin St-Juste became a distraction to the coaches. Kendall Fuller saves this group from having a failing grade.

Stats:

Kendall Fuller – 74 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 passes defensed, PFF rating 83.1

Benjamin St-Juste – 61 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 17 passes defensed, PFF rating 59.9

Emmanuel Forbes – 34 tackles, 1 INT, 11 passes defensed, PFF rating 50.9

Assessment: D

Special Teams

Camaron Cheeseman is gone and rightfully so. Tress Way had a solid season, but his production was down a bit from previous seasons. Joey Slye solidified his status as the team’s kicker and had a team-record 61-yard field goal.

Stats:

Joey Slye – 19-24 FGA (1 BLK), 31-33 XPs

Tress Way – 71 punts, 41.8-yard average, long of 66 yards, 30 inside the 20-yard line

Assessment: B

Coaches

Along the way, a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach were fired. The head coach was fired after the final game. The Commanders have the second overall pick in the 2024 draft. The team finished the season with an eight-game losing streak – longest in the NFL. There is only one grade that should be considered.

Assessment: F

2024 Prediction

It’s easy to be optimistic prior to any season, but the current changes that we see point to a very positive offseason for the Commanders. However, let’s be conservative for now, but with expectations of great things to come.

2024 Record: 8-9

Soon, we’ll have a detailed look at free agency and mock drafts are certainly on the way. Analytics will be a key factor in the mocks and free agent predictions. The offseason will be one of fun and excitement for the first time in many years. We’ve earned it and deserve it. See you as we go along.