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Daily Slop - 24 Jan 24: It feels like Commanders are just waiting for Lions to lose so Washington can move forward with Ben Johnson

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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San Francisco 49ers v Detroit Lions Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Commanders links

Articles

Washington Post (paywall)

For their next head coach, the Commanders need to go on the offensive

the first coaching hire of Harris’s tenure happens to come with uncommon alignment across a variety of fronts: The new owner got to handpick the person to run his football operations department. Peters now has a partnership with Harris to handpick their coach. That coach, importantly, will have a say in whom the Commanders will take with the second pick in the draft. That pick almost certainly will be the quarterback around whom the GM and coach will build their roster.

Dominoes line up this way about as often as Mitch McConnell and Elizabeth Warren go out for beers. What it means: The Commanders should hire an offensive-minded coach to mold and shape the quarterback who will — fingers crossed — be the centerpiece of this rebuild.

“We’re looking for the best leader for this team, for the Washington Commanders,” Peters said this month when he was introduced, his only public comments since taking the job. “And so we have set criteria that we’re going to have it be aligned in that vision. And it’s not going to be in a box. It’s not going to be offense. It’s not going to be defense. It’s going to be the best leader for this organization.”

That’s absolutely the way to present this search. It’s also then okay to assemble your group, cast a wide net and say, “Tie goes to the offensive guy.” At least.

This isn’t because only four of the 14 head coaches in this year’s playoffs were former defensive coordinators. It’s not because you just ousted Rivera, a former linebacker and defensive coordinator. And it’s not that defensive coordinators can’t make good head coaches even in a league that constantly thirsts for more offense.

Shoot, a year ago, DeMeco Ryans was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator. He just finished transforming the Houston Texans from a team that owned the second pick in the draft into one capable of reaching the playoffs — and winning a game once it was there. That approach can work.

But to make it work in Houston, Ryans had to get the offensive coordinator right. That he did — in choosing Bobby Slowik, then a 35-year-old offensive assistant in San Francisco — is a credit to Ryans. It says here, though, that handing rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the entire offensive operation to a first-time coordinator took, um, guts. That it worked out is great for Stroud, great for Ryans and great for Slowik, who now is garnering interest as a head coaching candidate. Still, it was a risk — and now that it succeeded, Slowik could be gone after a single season.

That risk isn’t worth taking in Washington.


The Athletic (paywall)

Commanders GM Adam Peters’ to-do list: Hiring a head coach is just a start

Coordinators

If the head coach is a first-timer like Johnson or Macdonald, adding a former head coach or a long-time coordinator to the staff is necessary, if not paramount.

Whatever the potential of these scheming wunderkinds, they would be endeavoring a significant new role that will require balancing broad head coach duties with game planning and play calling. Seasoned coordinators could handle one side of the ball and provide in-house counsel, thus aiding these new head coaches with that adjustment period.

Former New York Giants and Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and Macdonald worked together in Baltimore. Johnson served under ex-Dolphins (and New York Jets) head coach Adam Gase in Miami. For a play-calling head coach, the importance of developing a rookie selected with Washington’s No. 2 overall pick might put 49ers quarterback coach Brian Griese and former Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in play.

Results with other searches likely make currently employed coaches available. Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and Morris were on the Rams’ 2021 Super Bowl staff. Former Commanders defensive backs coach and Titans defensive pass-game coordinator Chris Harris has received defensive coordinator interview requests from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears.


ESPN

Why new GM Adam Peters came to Washington and what’s next

What other key decisions must be made?

Peters must decide what he wants to do with the front office. Martin Mayhew, who had been the general manager the past three years, remains with the organization. He worked with Peters for four seasons in San Francisco. The only person fired, so far, in Washington has been head coach Ron Rivera.

On the field the biggest question remains what the team will do with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Peters didn’t commit to anything, saying only it would be a decision made with whomever the Commanders hire as well as others in the organization.


Commanders.com

Commanders 2023 season review | Tight ends

Questions to answer

Can Cole Turner finally turn into a viable threat: Turner was drafted out of Nevada for his ability to be a red zone target. That was primarily what he did when he switched from receiver to tight end near the end of his college career, and there have been flashes of that in the past two preseasons. However, a mixture of injuries and lack of opportunities has led to him getting just 13 receptions and 143 yards in 22 games. He has yet to score a touchdown in his career. Turner did look better as a blocker in 2023, but he was drafted to help the passing game. Whether he actually turns into that will be up to the new regime to get it out of him.

How much depth should the Commanders add in 2024: Turner, Bates and Thomas were the only three tight ends who received targets in 2023. Bates is known more for being a blocker than a pass-catcher, and we’ve already covered Turner’s contributions in the last two seasons. The Commanders could stand to get more from the position, and there are some options in free agency (like Dalton Schultz, Noah Fant and Mike Gesicki) and the draft (Brock Bowers and Code Stover) who could be interesting additions. The big question is what Washington will decide to do with Rogers. The previous regime was high on the UNLV quarterback-turned-tight end and what he could become, but general manager Adam Peters and the new head coach might have different opinions. Regardless of whether Washington keeps Sam Howell as the starter or drafts a quarterback at No. 2 overall, they will likely need more options at tight end to make the signal-caller’s life a little easier as they learn a new system.


Commanders Wire

17 ex-Commanders will compete in AFC, NFC Championship Games

In the AFC, the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens will host the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Lamar Jackson will face Patrick Mahomes.

On the NFC side, the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers host the Detroit Lions. This is Detroit’s first NFC championship appearance since the 1991 season. It’s been so long for the Lions that their last championship game appearance came during Washington’s last Super Bowl season.

Speaking of Washington, we’ve examined the rosters and coaching staffs of the final four remaining teams and noticed several former Washington players/coaches in action this weekend.

We’ve counted 17 former Washington players or coaches on the rosters or coaching staffs of the final four teams this weekend. If we’ve missed anyone, let us know.


Podcasts & videos

Waiting on Ben Johnson...| John Keim Report Livestream



Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Head Coach Update & Power Ranking Ben Johnson, Bobby Slowik, and Raheem Morris



Ref the District: Hype Train Incoming? Mel Kiper Takes Jayden Daniels for Commanders in First Mock Draft - Ep 157


NFC East links

Pro Football Talk

Report: Eagles interview Kliff Kingsbury for offensive coordinator position

A year after being fired in Arizona, the USC senior offensive analyst has interviewed with the Eagles for the vacant offensive coordinator position, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media.

Kingsbury recently interviewed for the offensive coordinator position with the Bears. The position went to Shane Waldron.

In four years with the Cardinals, Kingsbury generated a record of 28-38-1. Before that, he served as head coach at Texas Tech, where he had a record of 35-40.

The Eagles recently parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who became the offensive coordinator after Shane Steichen was hired to coach the Colts. The Eagles are currently looking for both an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator.


Big Blue View

2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Javion Cohen, OG, Miami

Cohen arrived in Miami in 2023 after starting his career in Alabama. He was the Crimson Tide’s left guard for two years, culminating in second team All-SEC honors in 2022. He took a bit of a step back last year in Miami, but his ceiling remains high.

Could Cohen regain his Alabama form and be a hidden gem?

Prospect: Javion Cohen (70)

Games Watched: vs. LSU (2022 - with Alabama), vs. Texas A&M (2023 - with Miami), vs. North Carolina (2023), vs. Clemson (2023)

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 305 pounds

Projection

Cohen has a real chance to become a starting guard in the NFL. He has the scheme diversity to play for any offense, with enough power for down-hill rushing attacks as well as the athleticism to play in zone schemes. Coaches will like the competitiveness with which he plays as well.

He’ll need to play with more consistency to secure a starting job, however. The instances where he lunges or loses his leverage will be readily exploited by defenders at the NFL level. That said, his good plays are enticing and show that he has high upside waiting to be unlocked. Cohen has the potential to be a good starting guard in the NFL, if he can reach his ceiling.

Final Word: A late Day 2 or early Day 3 value


NFL league links

Articles

Washington Post (paywall)

Greg Olsen tackles Michael Wilbon’s ‘analytics’ rant after Bucs’ 2-point try

Late in the Buccaneers’ 31-23 playoff loss Sunday to the Lions, more than a few observers were confused, if not upset, by Tampa Bay Coach Todd Bowles’s decision to go for two after his team scored a late touchdown to pull within eight points.

Among those unhappy with that choice — which led to an unsuccessful conversion attempt and left the Bucs still at an eight-point deficit — was ESPN’s Michael Wilbon. His “analytics” rant Monday on “Pardon the Interruption” included a dig at game announcers who have tried to explain the gambit’s logic to viewers, which then prompted some pushback from Fox Sports analyst Greg Olsen.

“Don’t start me with the two-point conversion,” Wilbon said. “The analytics say go for it. Do the analytics say go for it no matter who’s going for it? So if you and I were on the field, the analytics say go for it?

“It’s the stupidest, laziest, lamest thing I’ve ever heard for reasoning in competition,” Wilbon continued. “And I hate when announcers just buy it without questioning it,” he said.

Olsen, a former NFL player known to have an appreciation for the advanced analytics widely employed by teams across a spectrum of sports, responded Monday evening to a post of Wilbon’s comments on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This is just further proof how vital it is that announcers continue to educate the viewers on the current approach to NFL football,” Olsen wrote. “It isn’t announcers being ‘lazy.’ It’s the way the game is being played and is here to stay. The game evolves.”

“We need to present the game the way most teams are playing it,” Olsen wrote. “Not how they used to play it.”


NFL.com

Unsung heroes of 2023 NFL season: One overlooked/surprise contributor from each NFC team

Washington Commanders - Sam Cosmi

The Commanders’ offensive line struggled for much of the season, but Cosmi’s play stood out. The third-year pro had a career year, showing the ability to open holes in the run game and improving as a pass blocker. After two seasons at right tackle, Cosmi moved to right guard in 2023 and shined. He allowed 31 pressures but gave up just one sack and four QB hits in 17 starts on 736 pass-blocking snaps, third-most among guards, per PFF. Changes are afoot for the Commanders in 2024, including likely moves along the O-line, but Cosmi showed he could be a building block on the interior.