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Daily Slop - 4 Jan 24: Quan Martin ‘flashed’ against the 49ers

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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Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Quan Martin flashes potential against 49ers

Breaking down the performance of rookie DB Quan Martin against the 49ers.

Against the 49ers, Martin was used more as the free safety than the slot corner and he showed a good feel for the position.

On this play, the 49ers are looking to hit one of Kyle Shanahan’s staple play-action concepts, known as Drift. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel aligns isolated to the right of the formation and looks to run vertical for about 10 yards before then drifting over the middle into space. His job is to find the space behind the linebackers biting up on the play-action fake. As Samuel looks to break inside, quarterback Brock Purdy gets to the top of his drop and looks to find his star receiver. However, Quan Martin is playing free safety and gets a good read on Purdy’s eyes. He follows them to his intended target and drives down on the drift route from Samuel.

By driving down on the route, Martin takes it away from Purdy and forces him to reset his feet and work to the other side of the field. Khaleke Hudson has some solid coverage on the wheel route Purdy ends up throwing, but Tariq Castro-Fields gets called for a penalty on a different route.

That drift route should be very familiar to Washington fans. Kyle Shanahan ran it multiple times a game when Robert Griffin III was the quarterback back in 2012. He had so many different ways to get to it and teams really struggled to stop it. So it’s a credit to Martin that he recognized the threat and was able to take it away.

Commanders Wire

Commanders don’t do ‘Dallas Week’ these days

George Allen was hired to be the new Washington head coach, and he instantly talked of how Dallas had owned the division but Washington was going to fight for the division.

In his first season, Washington headed to the old Cotton Bowl Stadium to face the Cowboys in Week 3. During the week, Allen began to refer to the week as “Dallas Week.” What followed shocked one city and excited the other.

Both teams were 2-0 when Washington went to Dallas to face the defending conference champs in a wet, rainy game. Washington shocked the NFC Champion Cowboys 20-16.

Allen had fired up the city the week of the game, and when the team arrived at Dulles Airport Sunday night, thousands of fans were at the airport to greet the victors back home. “Dallas Week” had been born!

“Dallas Week” means little to the fan base compared to what it did for 30 years dating from George Allen’s arrival.

This week has no energy, no juice as the rivalries’ games did in the past.

Washington Post (paywall)

How to grade Sam Howell’s performance? Ask opposing defenders.

In the locker room Sunday, six San Francisco 49ers defenders described Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell with words such as “young,” “talented,” “good player” and “bad decisions.” They said they thought Howell had struggled primarily because he had a hard time adjusting to coverage changes post-snap and because his aggressive nature led him to make some reckless throws.

“He likes to take chances,” cornerback Isaiah Oliver said. “I felt like he could read coverages pretty well and [he] kind of knew what we were in, but just sometimes he would make poor decisions.”

Several 49ers praised Howell’s toughness, mobility and arm talent, the same attributes that earlier this season gave Commanders fans hope that he could be a long-term answer. The defenders acknowledged Howell was in a tough position — starting after being benched, having three offensive linemen out — and emphasized that the Commanders lost, 27-10, for reasons bigger than Howell.

“We just have better players,” safety Logan Ryan said.

Practice notes | Howell wants ‘to play good football’ in season finale

The past 365 days have been eventful for Howell. He was named “QB1” for the offseason workout program and officially placed in the role through training camp; he played in 14 games before getting pulled — twice — in favor of Jacoby Brissett; he was supposed to be benched for Week 17 before Brissett was ruled out with hamstring tightness; and now he’s been named the starter for the Commanders’ final game in a disappointing 4-12 season.

“It is crazy, man,” Howell said. “I thought a little bit about that. This time last year, I was getting ready to play my first game, and now I have a full year under my belt. Definitely just so blessed to be where I am and just to be a part of this time.”

In his first game against the Cowboys, Howell wanted to show how far his development had come during his rookie year. At that point, it was enough to lead the Commanders to a 26-6 win over the Cowboys and create some hype for his future. Now, after an up-and-down year, he’s still trying to accomplish the same thing.

“I just want to make sure I go out there and show on Sunday the type of player I really can be in this league,” he said.

Giving the fans, team and league a reminder of his potential would be beneficial for Howell, because for the last six weeks, he’s looked completely different from the player he was to start the season.

Riggo’s Rag

7 Commanders players who need extended reps in 2023 regular-season finale

It’s time to see what these Commanders players can do...

Cole Turner - Commanders TE

After a washout rookie season, Washington Commanders tight end Cole Turner looked very good in the 2023 preseason. He showed the ability to find gaps in the middle of zones and demonstrated good hands. Promising signs entering Year 2 of his professional career.

This is what fans thought they were getting when the Commanders spent a fifth-round pick on him in 2022. However, once the season began, Turner was practically invisible.

Logan Thomas and John Bates continued to get the lion’s share of the snaps at tight end despite very limited production. A quality receiving option at the position would have been a godsend for second-year quarterback Sam Howell earlier this year, but Turner still averaged fewer than 10 offensive snaps per game.

We have all seen this season how quickly a group of rookie tight ends - led by, but hardly limited to, Sam LaPorta of the Detroit Lions - have hit the ground running. The Commanders passed on a lot of quality tight ends last season, presumably because they thought Turner had a future. It’s time to see if he does.

That’s why giving him extended reps in their season finale against the Dallas Cowboys is so crucial. Turner might capitalize on his increased responsibilities to provide hope for the future. If not, it’s back to the drawing board for Washington.

Commanders Wire

No Commanders make the 2024 NFL Pro Bowl

Five Washington Commanders made the Pro Bowl in 2022: Defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, safety Jeremy Reaves and punter Tress Way.

One year later, the 4-12 Commanders saw no players make the Pro Bowl.

Four teams saw no players selected to the Pro Bowl, and three of those teams are currently in the top four of the 2024 NFL draft order: Carolina (No. 1, but pick goes to Chicago), Washington (No. 2) and New England (No. 3). Green Bay was the fourth team with no players selected to the Pro Bowl.

Only two Commanders finished among the top 10 in fan voting at their respective positions: Kam Curl (10th among safeties) and Terrell Burgess (third among specialists).

Who were Washington’s top contenders to make the Pro Bowl? Well, it’s tough to make an argument for anyone. Statistically, McLaurin is probably the most likely, as he’s 54 yards away from 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive season. However, McLaurin is far down the list among wideouts deserving to make the Pro Bowl, through no fault of his own.

Podcasts & videos

SCARY TERRY Joins Tress Way on Hang Time | Ep. 7

Failed Resolutions, Fixing College Football, Cowboys Preview | Get Loud | Washington Commanders


PHOTOS | Commanders practice, 01/03

The Washington Commanders began preparing for their final game of the 2023 season on Wednesday.

NFC East links

Blogging the Boys

Cowboys at Commanders: Regular-season finale matchups to watch for the Dallas Cowboys

Which matchups are you most interested to see this week?

Cowboys’ CB DaRon Bland vs. Commanders’ WR Terry McLaurin

With his fifth pick-six of the 2023 season in Week 12 against the Washington Commanders, DaRon Bland cemented himself in the NFL history books for the most interceptions returned for a touchdown in league history, doing it just 11 games into the season. That ended up helping what would have been a really disappointing outing for Bland. Whether it was Terry McLaurin or just about any other of the Commanders wide receivers, Sam Howell was finding quite a bit of success when throwing to Bland’s side of the field. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if Washington tries to find repeat success in the regular-season finale. Because of that, Bland will probably be targeted early and often.

NFL league links



In 2023, The Teams With The Most Passing Yards Are Winning

From 1966 to 2022, teams that threw for more gross passing yards won 51% of their games. In other words, in the Super Bowl era, there hasn’t been much of a correlation between the quantity of a team’s passing game and their likelihood of success. And this hasn’t changed much even as teams pass much more now than they used to: from 2013 to 2022, the team with more gross passing yards won 52% of their games. In 2020 — a year that saw Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen as the quarterbacks of the final four teams — the team that threw for more yards had a losing record during the regular season.

But this year, teams that win the passing yardage battle have a remarkable 0.671 winning percentage. That is, by a good margin, the best winning percentage of the Super Bowl era. So while in general, throwing for a lot of yards hasn’t been correlated with winning, in 2023, it certainly has been:

Take a look at the top 7 leaders in passing yards: they are all (as of today, at least) leading playoff teams. None of the top 11 players in passing yards has a losing record, and just one of the top 16 leaders in passing yards has a losing record. That is incredible and extremely out of character with the rest of NFL history.