After donning the Washington Football Team for one last season in 2021, the now Washington Commanders will be looking for the 2022 season to be one where a fresh, new start, not only from an image point of view but most importantly from a football point of view starts to happen.
As Ron Rivera gets ready to enter his third season as head coach of the Commanders, with defensive star Chase Young ready to come back in full health to the team and most importantly former Eagles and Colts QB Carson Wentz slated to be the franchise’s passer for the foreseeable future, what could be in store for Washington this season?
Washington Commanders Last Season Performance
After reaching the playoffs in the 2020 season thanks to the work of that season’s come-back player of the year, QB Alex Smith, and DE Chase Young having an outstanding rookie season that saw him win the DROY award as well as his 1st Pro Bowl nod, everything was looking great for Washington. Sadly, the 2021 season would once again see the team fall, finishing out with a 7-10 record, all while losing Young in week 10 to a season-ending ACL injury.
Two players from the squad, G Brandon Scherff who now plays for the Jaguars, and DT Jonathan Allen received Pro Bowl nods.
Washington Commanders Off Season Changes
Aside from the biggest change in the franchise which was adopting the Commanders name, Washington also caused a splash by bringing in former Eagles and Colts QB Carson Wentz to be their new franchise passer. While the team also continues to wait out when Chase Young will be finally cleared to join the team once again, with the timeline showing that Young is slated to miss the first four games of the season at least, the team has made it a point to keep star WR Terry McLaurin with the team as well as maintaining the base of their defensive line.
Last but not least, Washington promoted their all-time sacks leader and former defensive leader Ryan Kerrigan to the assistant defensive line coach role after retiring with the team.
Washington Commanders Key Additions
Three names stand out as the main additions made by the Commanders for the 2022 season. First of all, and most importantly, Washington decided to put the brakes on QB Tyler Heinicke’s role as the team’s starting QB by trading their 42nd and 73rd pick with the Colts in return for the 47th and 240th pick as well as Carson Wentz. By bringing Wentz into the mix, hoping that he can stay healthy of course, Washington is hoping to finally have a franchise quarterback that the team can rely on for the foreseeable future.
Secondly, in a move to fill the gap left after their all-star guard Brandon Scherff packed his bags and decide to move to Jacksonville in exchange for a three-year, $49,5 million deal, Washington decided to take a piece out of the Jaguars’ roster by signing G Andrew Norwell to a two-year deal.
Lastly, coming from their 2022 draft haul, WR Jahan Dotson from Penn State stands out as the team’s best addition on offense, especially now that Wentz will have both McLaurin and Dotson at his disposal down the field.
Washington Commanders Key Subtractions
In the subtraction department, after being able to keep star WR Terry McLaurin from leaving during the free-agency market, Washington did end up suffering one major loss. Brandon Scherff, the most important player in their offensive line and undoubtedly one of the best guards in the league decided to change the nation’s capital for Jacksonville, Florida where he will now suit up for the Jaguars in exchange for a three-year, $49,5 million deal.
Washington Commanders Head Coach Analysis
Ron Rivera will be entering his third year as the head coach of the Washington Commanders after leading the team to the playoffs in his first season with the squad and failing to repeat his success in his 2nd season. Known as a defense-first coach, Rivera will be counting once again on Washington’s defensive line to play a pivotal role in what the team’s record will reflect at the end of the season.
With the help of DC Jack del Rio and OC Scott Turner, Rivera will be looking to find a way in which the team as a whole can play at the same level of intensity, something that has been one of Washington’s main flaws, with their defense being a feared unit while their offense being regular at best most of the time.
Washington Commanders Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
Towards the beginning of the season, the Washington Commanders have a total of six players from their active roster in various stages of injury dealings. The most important case is of DE Chase Young who is still working on coming back from his season-ending ACL injury from last year. As of right now, it is expected for Young to miss the first four games of the season at least.
Besides Young, on offense G Willie Beavers, TE Curtis Hodges, C Tyler Larsen, and RB Brian Robinson Jr. are all listed as questionable to be ready for the team’s first games of the season. On defense, CB Josh Drayden is the only other player besides Young to be listed as unavailable for the team.
Washington Commanders Offense
Washington needs for their offense to pick up big time if the team wishes to be any sort of a threat in their division. A lot of the team’s success will fall behind what version of Carson Wentz the team will get. If they can get the version of Wentz from his early days in Philadelphia where he showed signs of being on his way to becoming one of the better QBs in the league then the Commanders should be good to go. If they get the injury-prone Wentz, then maybe keeping Heinicke ready just in case would be the best route.
The addition of rookie WR Jahan Dotson to pair up next to Terry McLaurin could end up being the main key to this team’s success on offense, as both could end up becoming one of the more dynamic receiver duos in the NFC in no time. Lastly, with RB Antonio Gibson coming into his 3rd season with the team, and after posting 1,037 rushing yards with seven touchdowns along with 294 receiving yards and three touchdowns, Washington should not have to worry as much when it comes to 1st and 2nd down yardage gains throughout the season.
Washington Commanders Defense
Here is where Washington has shined before and where they will need to shine once again if they want to have any sort of chance to gain some relevance in the NFC this season. For the past couple of years, Washington’s defense has been the mark of this team’s success. With players like Chase Young and Jonathan Allen leading the helm, the Commanders could end up benefiting greatly if both the D-line as well as the secondary puts on yet another slew of commanding performances game in and game out.
What’s most important for Washington will be to be able to keep Young healthy for the vast majority of the season, especially with how much of a leadership role he has gained within the roster and how much of a game-changing piece he can be in the Commanders’ defensive line.
Washington Commanders Special Teams
For the Special Teams department of the team, starting kicker Joey Slye will be entering his first full season with Washington after having only played six games with the Commanders last season after joining the team from San Francisco. Punter Tress Way and long snapper Camaron Cheeseman are also both coming back for yet another season with the Commanders.
When it comes to kick and punt return duties, WRs Dax Milne and Jahan Dotson and RB Antonio Gibson will end up sharing the responsibilities on offense.
Washington Commanders Prediction for 2022 Season
Washington has the chops to put on some decent numbers this season. But in all honesty, it will be quite hard for the Commanders to hit the ground running from the start of the season all while trying to adjust to Carson Wentz as the new QB.
Given how tough the level of competition will be between Philadelphia and Dallas for the NFC East crown, the best scenario for Washington would be to use this season as a time to try and get the roster to congeal, even more, all while thinking more towards the near future instead of expecting results right now.
Washington Commanders Final Thoughts
A lot of what could end up coming Washington’s way in their first season donning the Commanders name will ride on if Carson Wentz can manage to stay healthy throughout the season or not. The Commanders have a solid roster both on offense and defense, but stability is the name of the game here.
The Commanders have a slew of young players that could end up being impactful pieces for the organization soon, but they need to grow into the league and find their place within the squad. If Washington can take the time to truly groom this team, take care of it and allow it to continue to grow naturally, they could end up becoming a very good football team, shortly though, not right now.
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Is Carson Wentz The Answer to Washington’s QB Problems?
Washington has gone through as many ups and downs as ever trying to find a franchise QB to lead the team in the foreseeable future. While the idea of giving Tyler Heinicke another shot at the starting QB gig was thrown around and received with mixed emotions, Washington ended up bringing in former Eagles and Colts QB Carson Wentz.
While Wentz has shown that he has the chops to lead a team into the promised land, health and injury concerns have become a much bigger talking point regarding his tenure in the pros than anything else. If Washington can manage to keep Wentz as protected and healthy as possible they might end up receiving the best version of this QB, maybe even better than in his initial days with the Eagles. But if he continues to fall victim to injuries, Washington will end up having to look for another solution at QB, all while giving Heinicke another chance.
What Could Put Washington Over The Top In Their Division?
Defense. Washington’s defensive line, led by players like Chase Young and Jonathan Allen could end up becoming the key to Washington’s success in the NFC East division. It’s not a secret to anybody that the NFC East is a division where talent isn’t exactly overflowing, with the Eagles being the only team that truly stands out as the top squad in the pack, but with that said, the Commanders will need for their defense to become the most important unit in their functioning.
Washington’s offense could show some very positive signs of improvement down the line, especially in the WR department with Terry McLaurin and rookie Jahan Dotson leading the helm, but still, any and all success that could come for the Commanders will depend on how their defense can hold it down game in and game out.
Can The Commanders Make The Playoffs This Season?
While you can’t deny the level of heart that the Commanders bring to every game and how good their defense can be at times, the answer here is no. But not because of the team itself, at least not completely, but because of the level of talent and competition coming out of the NFC this year.
Unless Washington can win their division, a feat that seems close to impossible with the Eagles and even the Cowboys looking like the best fits to take the crown, Washington would have to pull off a slew of miracles in order to be able to score a record that’s good enough to allow them an in via a wildcard spot into the playoffs and that will be anything but simple.