With the NFL regular season less than two months away, please enjoy 2022–23 Team Previews. I figured I would kick off the series previewing my favorite team, The Washington Commanders. Checkout the Official Article on: https://www.copesportsjournal.com/post/washington-commanders-2022-23-team-preview
Commanders 2021–22 Season:
Record: 7–10 (3rd in NFC East)
Rivals: 2–0 Against Giants, 0–2 Against Eagles, 0–2 Against Cowboys.
Big Wins: Week 10- Buccaneers, Week 13- Raiders.
Big Losses (Games that team should have won): Week 5- Saints, Week 8- Broncos, Week 15- Eagles.
Key Returners: RB- J.D. McKissic, LT- Cornelius Lucas, S- Bobby McCain, WR- Cam Sims
Key Additions: QB- Carson Wentz, G- Andrew Norwell, G- Trai Turner, DE- Efe Obada, WR- *Jahan Dotson, DT- *Phidarian Mathis, RB- *Brian Robinson, QB- *Sam Howell
Key Departures: G- Brandon Scherff (Jaguars), DT- Tim Settle (Bills), DT- Matt Ioannidis (Panthers)
Best Move: Extending star receiver Terry McLaurin to a three year, $68 million extension|
- McLaurin is now a Commander for the next four seasons, and is set to make $22.5 million a year. Terry is a leader on and off the field, and represents the face of a franchise that could use a bit of positive attention every once in a while….
Worst Move: Drafting Phidarian Mathis in the second round of the draft instead of selecting an immediate solution to fill gaps at either linebacker or safety |
- I was very disappointed in this pick. I understand that Mathis is a long term cheaper defensive line option if Payne doesn’t get extended, but with guys like Jaquan Brisker, Troy Anderson, and Nakobe Dean on the board at #47, a part of me wonders what the team could be missing out on. I am hopeful Mathis will be a stud and follow in the footsteps of his Bama boys, but I also think Dean is going to be a future all-pro who would’ve taken significant pressure off of Jamin Davis’s development.
2022–23 Depth Chart: Source: ESPN
Week 1- Vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 2- At Detroit Lions
Week 3- Vs Philadelphia Eagles
Week 4- At Dallas Cowboys
Week 5- Vs Tennessee Titans
Week 6- At Chicago Bears
Week 7- Vs Green Bay Packers
Week 8- At Indianapolis Colts
Week 9- Vs Minnesota Vikings
Week 10- At Philadelphia Eagles
Week 11- At Houston Texans
Week 12- Vs Atlanta Falcons
Week 13- At New York Giants
Week 14- BYE
Week 15- Vs New York Giants
Week 16- At San Francisco 49ers
Week 17- Vs Cleveland Browns
Week 18- Vs Dallas Cowboys
Schedule Thoughts: Schedule ranks easiest in the NFL (based on Power Rankings).
- Week 1 + Week 2: Provide an excellent opportunity for the team to play around with different schemes, make early season mistakes, and still push through and get wins. Hopefully, the team will gain some confidence/familiarity heading into Week 3 against The Eagles.
- Week 8 + Week 10: Carson Wentz returns to Indianapolis and Philly in a three-week span. It could be a little redemption tour for the 6'5 QB.
- Week 11-Week 15: This could be a fantastic opportunity for the team to go on a little win streak due to weaker opponents. Washington should be favored in all of these games, and the Week 14 bye should provide the team with proper rest to keep going!
- Week 16- Week 18: The end of the season is a tough one, closing out with the 49ers, Browns, and Cowboys. Hopefully, if the Commanders need to win big games to clinch the playoffs, they do so before the last three weeks because I do not love any of these matchups. However, Cleveland could become favorable if Watson is suspended for the season, which the NFL will not do.
Carson Wentz: Which Carson Wentz are the Commanders starting on Week 1? Is it the 2017 Carson Wentz in Philly? Or is it the Indianapolis Carson Wentz who blew an easy week 18 matchup against the Jags? Honestly, it is most likely the Carson Wentz in the middle. Wentz needs to do everything he possibly can to cut back on turnovers, make smarter decisions, and not force anything. Wentz was a risky acquisition by Washington this offseason. However, there is no denying that he is still an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and is the best starting QB that Terry McLaurin has had in the past five seasons. So far, the team has reported a fair amount of ups and downs but are very optimistic about #11 being the guy next season.
Gibson/ McKissic/ Robinson: I was fired up about the Commanders drafting Brian Robinson from Alabama in the third round. The 6'1 228-pound freak rushed for 1,343 yards and 14 TDs for the Crimson Tide last season. He is a true power back and a player that will be a problem in the red zone. I am excited to see how this committee will pan out. I have always been a fan of Gibson and McKissic, but Robinson provides the power-back presence that the committee desperately lacked last year, especially with Gibson battling a shin injury for most of the season.
Dotson + Curtis Samuel’s Health: How good is Jahan Dotson? The first-round rookie wide receiver from Penn State has been turning heads at OTAs and mini-camp. Rumor has it Dotson has excellent hands and never drops passes. I think Dotson could be a legit WR #2 and compliment McLaurin exceptionally well. I have loved every report about him, and it seems like the Commanders could have found a new franchise-wide receiver. Bonus: Don’t forget about Curtis Samuel. Although he was out most of last season with a lingering hamstring injury, he is hopeful to get back to his 2020 form, where he recorded 77 receptions for 851 yards and 3 TDs while catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater. (No disrespect to Teddy B). If Samuel can stay healthy, the Commanders are looking at arguably the most talented receiving group since 2012, when RG3 took the league by storm as a rookie.
Chase Young + Defensive Line: It is safe to say that the Commanders defensive line was humbled after a poor 2021–22 season. The defense had extremely high expectations coming into the year and significantly underperformed. This year, the line is hoping to change that narrative. As mentioned earlier, I was not thrilled with the Phidarian Mathis pick, but despite that, he will add tremendous depth to a unit that lost two role players this off-season. A lot of the defensive line’s performance depends on when Chase Young comes back, Daron Payne’s status, and how the line comes together as a unit, instead of individuals all trying to make the Pro-Bowl. The potential is through the roof, but the pressure is on, and role players will have to step up in the early weeks of the season as Young recovers.
Jamin Davis + Buffalo Nickel: How can the 2021 first-round draft pick out of Kentucky change his narrative in Washington? So far, Jamin Davis has sucked. He looked lost last year, and many people have already written him off as a bust. I still believe Davis can bounce back this season and change his play. Davis will be a crucial component to the success of the Commander’s defense this season and will likely be entirely written off if he has a poor season. As for other aspects of the defense, the team is still searching for a valid Landon Collins replacement at the Buffalo Nickel. There have been many reports of Bobby McCain, rookie safety Percy Butler, or second-year defensive back Benjamin St-Juste stepping into the role. Only time will tell, but Bobby McCain will likely need to step up big time and prove to the organization that he was worthy of his contract extension.
Ethan’s Prediction: Final Record: 8–9
Despite a favorable schedule and the potential for everything to come together this season, I fear that the Eagles and the Cowboys will be tough opponents for the Commanders this season. I genuinely hope the team exceeds my expectations, but I fear Carson Wentz may not be the solution, and the never-ending cycle of below-average football may reoccur… Fingers crossed for a good season, and regardless of the outcome, the team has a lot of long-term promise and things to be excited about!