The Athletic (paywall)
Washington hoped the pairing of Johnson with first-year general manager Adam Peters — and the options available with the No. 2 selection in April’s NFL Draft — would ignite a long-overdue turnaround. One of eight candidates interviewed for the opening, Johnson held front-runner status, at least publicly, throughout the process. Team officials stated they ran an open competition for the position previously occupied by Ron Rivera from 2020 until the day after the Commanders concluded a 4-13 campaign.
Most assumed Johnson would depart for a head-coaching opportunity this offseason, after getting some interview experience last year and even more during the current cycle. But Johnson is set to return to Detroit to coordinate an offense that has a chance to be even better next season. Some of the Lions’ young players — tight Sam LaPorta, running back Jahmyr Gibbs and wide receiver Jameson Williams — should only continue to improve.
Where do the Commanders turn next?
Well, now. Johnson staying with Detroit yet again while coveted for head-coaching jobs a second consecutive year is surprising. That he didn’t land with Washington isn’t as much, based on the noise around the position over the last week. Those calling Johnson to Washington a lock ignored some basic facts, like Johnson taking interviews elsewhere, which meant he was open to other options or wasn’t convinced the Commanders (or any team) were the answer.
This uncertainty helps explain why Washington kept its second interview schedule intact. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn are the most prominent names. Lions DC Aaron Glenn, Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and Texans OC Bobby Slowik also received in-person meetings along with Commanders OC Eric Bieniemy.
Macdonald would fill the wunderkind void left by Johnson’s decision, and he or Quinn would help the only defense to allow 30 points per game last season.
Washington has not shown interest in former Patriots coach Bill Belichick or ex-Titans coach Mike Vrabel, according to league sources.
The Athletic (paywall)
Texans OC Bobby Slowik returning to Houston after head coaching interest from Commanders, Falcons: Source
Slowik, who arrived in Houston in 2023 by way of the San Francisco 49ers, received second interviews for head-coaching vacancies with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders in recent weeks. He also interviewed with the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.
Under Slowik’s coordination, the Texans ranked fifth in the league in passing yards and improved from 31st in offensive yards in 2022 to 12th in 2023. His leadership of No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud garnered league-wide praise, as Stroud put together one of the best rookie passing seasons in NFL history while taking the Texans to the playoffs.
Slowik joined Detroit Lions’ Ben Johnson as the second offensive coordinator of the day to stay put with their respective teams despite receiving multiple interviews. Johnson was considered a front-runner for the Commanders opening and had also interviewed with Seattle Seahawks, among three other teams.
Many are despondent, proclaiming there is no other worthy candidate out there. Many are gloomy, already saying there is a new owner, but nothing has changed.
Listen to yourselves!
Fear is doing your talking for you. This is why you are so emotional.
What is Adam Peters going to do?
I’ll tell you what Adam Peters is going to do. He is going to do what he said he was going to do the day he was hired. Adam Peters is going to stick to his commitment and his plan. After all, you don’t naively think he put all of his eggs in one basket, do you?
Peters expressed he was not looking for an offensive or defensive coach in particular. Do you know why? Because Peters has learned through simple observation that both types of coaches have won tremendously in the NFL and both types have lost enormously.
Consequently, what matters most to Peters is not offense or defense. He told us what he was looking for was a man who could bring leadership to the position.
Yes, this is a challenging time for Adam Peters. There is already negative press before he hires his first coach. But is that really necessary? Peters is not going to let his emotions get away from him, harming his ability to remain logical and rational.
Peters didn’t come across to me as a people-pleaser. He is not going to be overly concerned about pleasing Commanders fans. He already knows that is an impossible task.
Thus, Peters will stick to his plan and bring in a coach who will bring to this franchise what it has been lacking, a leader who also knows today’s NFL.
Burgundy & Gold Report
6’1” 244 lbs | LB | UK
Proj Late 3rd Rd-4th Rd
Career (35 Games)- 166 TAK (93 solo), 18 TFL, 10 SACKS, 3 INTs, 1 PD & 2 FF
2023 (12 Games)- 80 TAK (45 solo), 8.5 TFL, 4.5 SACKS, 1 INTs & 1 FF
In 2022 Wallace appeared in 12 games (6 starts) recording 54 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (tied team-high) and 1 QB hurry.
Wallace played like a man possessed vs Missouri, leading all defenders on the day with a season-high 9 total tackles and career-high 2.5 tackles for loss in the win.
Wallace started 12 games in 2023 for Kentucky and was named a team captain. He finished the season with 80 tackles (45 solo), 8.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.
The Wildcats linebacker finished the season ranked 13th in the SEC in tackles per game with 6.67 and was named named SEC Defensive Player of the Week (9/4).
In the season opener vs Ball State (9/2) Wallace led all defenders with career-high-tying 12 tackles. He also led Kentucky in tackles with 11 vs Clemson in a narrow 38-35 loss in the Gator Bowl.
It’s not out of the question for Wallace to play MIKE linebacker on the next level, considering he lined up at multiple spots during his HS and college career. He even covered the slot for the Wildcats and is viewed as a great communicator.
During this week’s Senior Bowl practices, Wallace checked in slightly shorter than expected at 6’1” as opposed to 6’2” (Kentucky official site listed).
Although his height could concern some teams, he reportedly surprised many onlookers when he measured in with 33” arms and 79 2/8” wingspan.
Named to Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks” list and on the Butkus Award Watch List, Wallace has a lot to like. He truly does boast freakish attributes and athletic ability.
Clocking in at 22 mph on the GPS (comparable to wide receivers) at 244 lbs is impressive, as is his vertical leap (38.5 inches). Adding brute strength with a power clean of 380 lbs and squats nearly 600 lbs is nuts.
Wallace could see his stock improve, as he’s expected to be one of the stars of the NFL Combine if he receives an invite.
Podcasts & videos
Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Coach Candidates Ben Johnson and Bobby Slowik Withdraw | Kay Adams Thoughts
Beltway Football: Emergency pod - Ben Johnson’s out as Commanders HC candidate
Shout out to @CommandersCov for pointing out that Mike MacDonald’s wife was raised in a family of Washington fans and was once herself a cheerleader for the #Commanders.— T M (@reshmanuel) January 31, 2024
Interview with Stephanie MacDonald here https://t.co/Tjo70QLMjt
NFC East links
Now It’s Serious: Jerry Jones Is Declaring 2024 The Year The Cowboys Go All In, Opposed To Whatever The Hell They’ve Done The Last 30 Years
Jerry Jones said the Cowboys are going all in 2024..."We will be going all in. I would say that you will see us this coming year not build it for the future."— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) January 30, 2024
This is exactly why we need a clone of Jerry Jones and have some form of him always in charge of the Cowboys. Claiming this is the year they go all in after failing again in the playoffs is what he does best. It’s the perfect quote. Oh they were building for this. Sure, that’s what they were doing. They weren’t trying to win you guys, they were just trying to build for 2024. It all comes to this year.
All it does is make me even happier and anxious for next year’s playoffs. Not that I’m scared of the Cowboys, but rather to see how they fail in miserable fashion. Feel like we hit the high note when they lined up Zeke at center and he just got destroyed but this is their year. They gotta do something better than that. You don’t build it all up just for Dak to throw a bunch of backbreaking picks again.
Bonus local news
The Angelos became Baltimore’s majority owner in 1993 after a purchase of $173 million
After 30 years of ownership, the Angelos have agreed to sell the Baltimore MLB club for $1.725 billion, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.
The Angelos will sell the team to two private equity billionaires, David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group and Mike Arougheti of Ares Management Corp., the reports said.