Why the Washington Commanders could be one of the surprises in 2022
With Carson Wentz as the new quarterback and a defense that intends to return to top levels, the Commanders will compete in the unpredictable NFC East.
Since Washington won its last Super Bowl at the end of the 1991 season, the team has gone through 32 starting quarterbacks.
They welcome Carson Wentz to a list that includes some infamous names, such as Cary Conklin, Heath Shuler, John Friesz, Gus Frerotte, Tony Banks, Jeff George, Shane Matthews , Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and Garrett Gilbert.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is another one of those 32 quarterbacks, but the veteran injured his hip in Week 1 of last season and the team had to break glass in an emergency and use Heinicke.
Add to that a defense that lost Chase Young (ACL) for half a season, the player never being able to show the level enjoyed in 2020, and the result was a disappointing season.
The team and coach Ron Rivera are hoping to fare better this time around.
Washington pinning hopes on Wentz
Looking for a new starting quarterback, Washington offered a package of college picks to the Indianapolis Colts to get Wentz. In addition, the Commanders will take over his entire contract, which represented a $28.3 million hit to this year’s salary cap.
The second overall pick in the 2016 Draft failed to take the Colts to the Playoffs in 2021 and only once in five years in Philadelphia. His 44-40-1 record says exactly who Carson James Wentz is.
But in Washington they trust that he can be the solution to their eternal problems in the team’s most important position.
Wide receivers to support Wentz
Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson make an interesting trio of wide receivers at Wentz’s disposal.
McLaurin led the team in 2021 with 77 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns, and is one of two NFC wide receivers (Justin Jefferson) with at least 75 catches and 1,000 yards in the past two seasons.
Samuel is trying to come back after playing just five games last season, when Washington signed him as a free agent from Carolina, and Dotson is small but explosive.
The Commanders' backfield is one of the best in the NFL. Antonio Gibson had 1,331 combined yards (1,037 rushing, 294 receiving) with 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving); J.D. McKissic was second on the team with 43 receptions, 397 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Alabama rookie Brian Robinson joined the mix.
The offensive line will have two new guards -Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner-, but neither of them will be able to fill the shoes of Brandon Scherff, who departed via free agency.
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The big comeback?
After a solid performance in 2020, last season was a setback for coach Rivera's defense and his coordinator, Jack Del Rio.
Young, the Defensive Rookie in 2020, is ruled out for the start of the 2022 season and is likely to miss at least the first month of the regular schedule.
Additionally, the Commanders lost safety Landon Collins, tackle Matt Ioannidis and linebacker Jon Bostic. Collins was one of the leaders of the defense and neither Kamren Curl nor Bobby McCain dominate the “buffalo nickel” position, in which the safety is basically used as a third linebacker.
This season will also be key for Jamin Davis (first-round pick in 2021), who is looking to establish himself as the starting linebacker alongside Cole Holcomb.
After starting 2-6, Washington won four in a row and it looked like Rivera’s team could contend for a postseason berth, but injuries and a short roster ended that dream.
That was against one of the toughest schedules in 2021; this year, the Commanders have one of the “easiest” and that could be an advantage in the always unpredictable NFC East Division.
So don’t write off Washington as one of the surprises in 2022.
Record in 2021: 7-10
Stadium: FedEx Field
Super Bowl Titles: 3
Head coach: Ron Rivera
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Turner
Defensive Coordinator: Jack Del Rio
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5|
|Jacksonville||at Detroit||Philadelphia||at Dallas||Tennessee|
|Week 6||Week 7||Week 8||Week 9||Week 10|
|at Chicago||Green Bay||at Indianapolis||Minnesota||at Philadelphia|
|Week 11||Week 12||Week 13||Week 14||Week 15|
|at Houston||Atlanta||at N.Y. Giants||BYE||N.Y. Giants|
|Week 16||Week 17||Week 18|
|at San Francisco||Cleveland||Dallas|