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Daily Slop - 2 Jan 24: Dallas week seems incidental as Commanders fans turn attention to front office & coaching staff

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: Washington Commanders-Eric Bieniemy Introductory Press Conference Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders links


The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders GM search: What league sources think of the top and overlooked candidates

The Washington Commanders are likely one week away from a staff shake-up, starting with head coach Ron Rivera. Based on the coach-centric plan, his departure would create openings atop the football and operations flow chart. Details are limited with managing partner Josh Harris’ approach, but the sense is he begins with the front office.

Formal interviews with potential hires cannot begin until Jan. 8.

Following conversations with numerous team and league sources, here’s a look at potential outside general manager targets and known connections.

Adam Peters

  • TeamSan Francisco 49ers
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — 49ers DC Steve Wilks, Texans OC Bobby Slowik, Commanders GM Martin Mayhew

Ian Cunningham

  • TeamChicago Bears
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, Bears OC Luke Getsy, Commanders VP of football strategy Eugene Shen

Alec Halaby

  • Team — Philadelphia Eagles
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Eagles OC Brian Johnson

Ed Dodds

  • TeamIndianapolis Colts
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • ConnectionsBrowns special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, Colts chief personnel executive Morocco Brown

Dawn Aponte

  • Team — NFL
  • Position — Chief administrator of football operations
  • Connections — All 32 teams

John Spytek

  • TeamTampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Bucs OC Dave Canales, Bengals OC Brian Callahan, Dolphins associate head coach Eric Studesville

Joe Hortiz

  • Team — Baltimore Ravens
  • Position — Director of player personnel
  • Connections — Ravens DC Mike Macdonald, Ravens OC Todd Monken

Brandt Tilis

  • Team — Kansas City Chiefs
  • Position — VP of football operations
  • Connections — Commanders OC Eric Bieniemy

Catherine Raiche

  • Team — Cleveland Browns
  • Position — Assistant GM/VP of football operations
  • Connections — Browns DC Jim Schwartz, Jaguars OC Press Taylor

Ray Agnew

  • Team — Detroit Lions
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Lions OC Ben Johnson, Lions DC Aaron Glenn, Panthers DC Ejiro Evero, Panthers OC Thomas Brown

Nolan Teasley

  • Team — Seattle Seahawks
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Seahawks OC Shane Waldron

Brandon Brown

  • Team — New York Giants
  • Position — Assistant GM
  • Connections — Browns DC Jim Schwartz, Giants OC Mike Kafka

OthersChad Brinker (Titans), Eliot Wolf (Patriots), Trey Brown (Bengals), Harley (Saints), Malik Boyd (Bills). The wild card is Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay.

Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Evaluating Sam Howell’s performance against the 49ers

Breaking down the performance of Commanders QB Sam Howell against the 49ers

Howell showed a flash of that talent that we saw more often earlier in the season, the talent that suggested perhaps he could be a quarterback to build around going forward.

This play is one of Howell’s better plays of the season to date. The Commanders break the huddle and immediately align in an empty formation. Howell then signals for running back Antonio Gibson to motion back into the backfield, giving Howell a pre-snap man/zone indicator from the defense. Howell likes what he sees from the 49ers, as they rotate a safety back deep and have the other rotate down over the third receiver to the right of the formation. With that look, Howell calls an audible. You can see him looking to his receivers to his right and making a signal, grabbing his left shoulder with his right hand, likely telling the group to adjust their routes to a slot fade combination.

After making the signal, Howell is ready to snap the ball. He now has Terry McLaurin in the slot running a slot fade concept against what he thinks is man coverage. If he’s right, he should have his top target working one-on-one against a slot corner with plenty of space to run into on the outside. As he snaps the ball, Howell quickly checks to his left and then gets his eyes in the middle of the field to check the safety rotation. He recognizes he is indeed correct with his pre-snap read and does have man coverage. His look left and then to the middle helps him hold the deep safety in the middle of the field, ensuring McLaurin is purely one-on-one against the slot corner. Howell then immediately turns to his right and pulls the trigger. He delivers a dime down the sideline to McLaurin, dropping it perfectly over his shoulder for a 42-yard gain.

Riggo’s Rag

Commanders key numbers: Losing streak continues while draft position improves

Seven straight losses. One more game and it will all be over...

4.9: Brian Robinson Jr. returned after missing the last two games and averaged a healthy 4.9 yards per carry. He finished with 44 rushing yards to go along with four receptions for 32 receiving yards.

Robinson’s work in the receiving game has been a revelation. The young running back should form a nice 1-2 punch alongside Chris Rodriguez Jr. in 2024.

6: Terry McLaurin finished with four receptions for 61 receiving yards and a touchdown - all in the first half - surpassing 900+ receiving yards for the fifth consecutive season. He becomes only the 6th player in NFL history to accomplish that feat in his first five campaigns.

McLaurin is on pace to finish with 1,000+ receiving yards. He has consistently overachieved despite having to catch passes from 11 different starting quarterbacks during his time in Washington.

Washington Post (paywall)

Hail or Fail: Commanders eye the No. 2 pick after second-half collapse

Hail: Christian Holmes

Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller were inactive for Washington, leaving Emmanuel Forbes Jr. and Tariq Castro-Fields as the Commanders’ starting cornerbacks. Castro-Fields injured his shoulder and left the game in the first half, forcing Washington to call upon Holmes, a second-year player who had appeared exclusively on special teams this year. Holmes made an immediate impact, breaking up a pass intended for Ronnie Bell to force the 49ers’ first punt. Holmes’s day was cut short when he was carted to the locker room and ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion after collapsing in the end zone during a scary moment early in the fourth quarter.

Fail: Pass rush

Washington failed to register a sack for the fourth time in its past five games. Chase Young didn’t have a sack for the 49ers in his return to FedEx Field and Montez Sweat had a quiet day in the Bears’ 37-17 win over the Falcons, but Washington’s pass rush has been nonexistent since it traded those first-round picks at the deadline.

Washington Post (paywall)

Chase Young on his Washington return: ‘I definitely could’ve played better’

In the locker room, Young didn’t seem interested in dwelling on what happened in Washington, with whom he once looked like a franchise cornerstone. He seemed to be enjoying the moment, which, for the 49ers, was pretty good: The Arizona Cardinals upset the Philadelphia Eagles and helped San Francisco clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

But Young and the Commanders are approaching a crossroads. Soon, Washington will move on from the regime that drafted the former Ohio State star second in 2020, and in March, Young will be a free agent before he even turns 25. The next few years will be important for both, though Young probably has more at stake than the Commanders’ new ownership group, given his talent, injury history, underwhelming production and finite playing career.

For now, though, Young seems relatively happy as the third defensive end on a Super Bowl contender.

Commanders Wire

Kyle Shanahan says the ‘personal stuff is gone’ regarding facing Washington

Shanahan admitted he doesn’t feel any negative feelings toward the Commanders any longer.

“No, not at all,” Shanahan said when asked if his negative feelings still existed since Snyder sold the team, per Kirk Larrabee of “I used to have those, but it’s totally different place here now, and different people, and nothing’s personal here anymore. The personal stuff is gone.”

That’s good news. With new owner Josh Harris now in charge, many of the bad feelings opposing teams and former players had toward the organization are gone.

The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders’ potential rise in the draft gives them a chance to ease their 2023 hangover

The Arizona Cardinals’ upset of the Philadelphia Eagles gave Arizona a fourth win this season, tying the Cards with the Commanders in the win-loss record at 4-12 with a week left. Because Washington’s and the New England Patriots’ strength of schedule percentages are slightly lower than Arizona’s, the Commanders and Patriots moved up in the 2024 NFL Draft positioning, to second and third, respectively, while the Cardinals fell to fourth. (The Chicago Bears, who own the Carolina Panthers’ 2024 first-rounder, clinched the No. 1 pick when the Panthers lost Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars.)

If the draft were held today, then, Washington would pick second. We won’t know for sure who will pick after the Bears until all of next week’s games are played. But if the Commanders wind up selecting just after Chicago, that changes their drafting calculus.

As much as I’ve advocated for the Commanders to go for an offensive lineman with their first-round pick, even I, a known troglodyte, understand that Washington has to take a quarterback if it picks second.

My preference for Penn State’s Olu Fashanu or Notre Dame’s Joe Alt assumed that the Commanders would get a top-five pick in April, not top-two. What new general manager/football operations czar, gift-wrapped with Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, with a pick higher than they might ever get again, wouldn’t go for the splashiest new toy? And what owner — one who just happens to be looking for someone to build him a new stadium and could use a potential superstar QB to showcase in said new stadium — wouldn’t encourage that kind of thinking?

Podcasts & videos

NFC East links

Blogging the Boys

Cowboys discussion: Washington Commanders hold second overall pick in 2024 NFL Draft entering Sunday

Washington has every reason to want to lose on Sunday.

Getting as blunt as possible about this, the Commanders organization has absolutely zero incentive to want to win this game. As a franchise they are clearly in a place of transition, change, and adjustment. They figure to be moving on from Ron Rivera by this time next week. One would think that they would want to have the best premium resources as possible in order to attract the right head coach and you know, use those resources to help their team.

One big resource is the #2 pick, but the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals also hold the same 4-12 record as the Commanders. A win by the Commanders could drop them in the draft order.

Obviously this is a division rivalry and it stands to reason that Washington may want to stick it to the Cowboys and ruin Dallas’ chances of improving their playoff position. But at what cost? Helping the Philadelphia Eagles? Another division rival? There is always pride on the line, but it is not like hurting the Cowboys specifically takes care of damaging all rivalries is the point.

Washington picked as high as number two overall just four years ago (Happy New Year!) and took Chase Young over quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa. While Young was a promising prospect it is hard to imagine Washington may not want a do-over if given the opportunity, especially considering that they traded away Young before the deadline this season.

The overall point here is that everyone’s interests line up in the same way on Sunday. A Cowboys win is the best possible result for the Cowboys, and a Commanders loss is the best possible result from the Commanders.

NFL league links


Over the Cap

Young Player Contributions in 2023

With the NFL season winding down I wanted to take a look at see what teams are getting the most contributions from players that they drafted and/or originally signed as undrafted free agents over the last four seasons. For this I am only looking at players who played offensive or defensive snaps with the snaps coming from their original team. Here is the breakdown of snaps:

While snaps don’t necessarily mean a good player and in many cases may just be snaps being filled due to injury or poor roster construction it does at least show the type of commitment a team has made to trying to improve by building around their own scouting and amassing draft selections. It should give some hope to bad teams for the future since they have young players gaining experience and at least seem to have some pipeline for the future.

The teams at the peak of this list would be the Packers, Rams, Bucs, Colts, Commanders, Bears, Cowboys, Chiefs, Chargers, and Lions. Clearly not all of these teams are good (a few are downright bad) but if they can continue to get young players like this contributing they have a chance to get better and/or at least maintain their status if they are already a good team.

In looking a little closer at the numbers I thought that the most interesting aspect was how teams are performing when we focus on players selected from 2020 to 2022. Why did I look at this time period? First year players don’t often perform at a very high level as a rookie season usually carries a learning curve with it and you also don’t necessarily get merit based snaps. While some of that also carries over to players selected in 2022 usually by the mid point of the year teams have adjusted their use of those players who are underperforming the draft slot.

Here is a breakdown of snaps from players selected between 2020-2022.

I don’t think any of the numbers here are exactly significant in any statistical way but I do find them interesting and I think helps illustrate the importance that comes from finding a minimum level of contribution from every year’s draft class and not falling into the trap where we abandon the drafts due to excessive trading or refusing to give young players opportunities once a season is basically boiling down to chasing the 7th wildcard spot.

NBC Sports

Wait, what? How Bills can earn No. 2 seed or miss NFL playoffs in Week 18

The Bills could find themselves in a win-or-go-home spot on Sunday Night Football

The Buffalo Bills could be celebrating a division title and the AFC’s No. 2 seed on Sunday Night Football in Week 18.

Or, they could see their season come to an end.

Buffalo enters the final week of the NFL regular season with a wild range of potential outcomes in regard to the postseason.

Beat the Miami Dolphins on the road, and the Bills will be AFC East champions for a fourth straight year and earn the conference’s No. 2 seed. But lose, and they could miss out on the playoffs completely.

Should the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars emerge victorious in Week 18, combined with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts not playing to a tie, Buffalo will find itself in a win-or-go-home spot. The likelihood of that scenario playing out isn’t exactly far-fetched, either.