The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase: Washington Commanders! Can a new name and new quarterback elevate Washington back to the playoffs?

Welcome to the 19th edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on your favorite NFL team. The Commanders are somewhat rebuilding and trying to contend at the same time, something that makes them almost incomparable to any other team in the NFL. Because they could be a fringe playoff team like the Vikings or Patriots trying to sneak into a spot, or could be like the Jaguars in a rebuilding process, but still trying to develop. They’re kind of in the middle. But with Carson Wentz at quarterback, and an inconsistent team over the past few seasons, what can Washington realistically do in 2022? Lets, get into this!

Before we do I would like to let you know that we are doing something very similar to this for the NBA on the Cool Sports Newsletter for the NBA if you want to check that out. Also on there, we are ranking different NFL positions. Wide receiver rankings are done and running back rankings are in the works!

The Washington Football team had the worst record for a team in NFL history to make the playoffs, tied with the 2010 Seattle Seahawks, at a 7-9 record. This was because their division (NFC East) was playing like the NFC Least that season. An injured and very poorly performed Eagles finished 4-11-1. An injured, non Dak Prescott Cowboys went 6-10. And the Giants went 6-10. The insanity of thinking a 6-10 football team could have a home playoff game was a pathetic look on the division, but most importantly, cool to watch. An Alex Smith comeback, Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin great offensive performances, an a defense that stepped up towards the end, and it was actually fun to watch the Football Team crawl their way to the playoffs. And they showed that they weren’t the “worst playoff team” of all time. With injured quarterbacks, Washington had to role with Taylor Heinicke against Tom Brady. And despite Washington’s defense allowing 31 points to the GOAT, Heinicke held his own, as they only lost by one possession to the eventual Super Bowl champions. But with a possibly retirement from Alex Smith and a new starting job possibility for Heinicke after going back and forth with Tom Brady, it was clear the Football Team had high expectations to break out in 2021!

In 2021, Alex Smith did retire as expected, putting an end to a successful and heartwarming NFL career. They decided not to trade for a Carson Wentz type quarterback or make any movement at quarterback, as they were confident they could succeed under Heinicke. They still had McLaurin and rookie Pro Bowl defensive rookie of the year Chase Young and the core intact, and were looking to surprise some people in the regular season. That didn’t happen! Heinicke played okay, but kind of came down to earth after a shockingly amazing playoff performance. McLaurin played great again. Gibson proved himself. But they only finished with seven wins again, but this time with ten losses after a one game increase in the schedule. While individuals played pretty well, something wasn’t clicking as a team, and a slightly rebuilding/developing team, was also looking to make moves to try to contend going into the offseason.

They started off by changing a very basic and meme of a name in Football Team and changed it to the Commanders. Funny enough, they’re still keeping the classic logo with the large W for Washington. But that was the first large step in the right direction. Maybe a new name meant new success in the district’s capital. Well, they figured out their quarterback position early on in the offseason as well. Even though they had faith in Taylor Heinicke going in 2021, after a season of basically mediocrity, they got rid of a him for severely underrated quarterback Carson Wentz. While most critics say Wentz isn’t that good, I am a big believer and in his 27 touchdowns to just seven interception ratio in 2021, and now that he has Terry McLaurin, his passing yards will go up substantially. But that still doesn’t make them a playoff contender. They needed more.

In the draft, Washington used their middle of the pack, 16th overall pick to select Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson is coming off a season with the Nittany Lions where he had 91 receptions for over 1,100 receiving yards a 12 touchdowns. He will be a great receiving option for a, I’ll admit it, inconsistent Wentz. In rounds two and three they picked up some Alabama guys, one being defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis and one being running back Brian Robinson Jr. Mathis, whose pick with Washington was a swap from Indianapolis as apart of the Carson Wentz trade, is coming off of a season where he had 10.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Robinson just had a 1,343 rushing season, where he also added on 14 touchdowns. They significantly upgraded in the draft.

In free agency, Washington was probably the most quiet team of them all. They really made no significant moves, yet lost Brandon Scherff to Jacksonville. So with the offensive line substantially worse and Washington making no upgrades to support it, how will the running game, and even the pass protection for Carson Wentz be? Not thinking about that at all, Washington decided to sign Terry McLaurin to a three year extension, which will reportedly make him $23.3 million per year. McLaurin has been consistently a good wide receiver throughout his career. He started by having a career high seven touchdown campaign in his rookie 2019 season with just 1,000 yards, then jumped that up to over 1,100 yards in 2020 before having another 1,000 yard season in 2021. This is impressive considering he’s had to work with Case Keenum, an older Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke throughout his career. Now with an upgrade at quarterback but a regression at offensive line, I wonder if he will have a career season in 2022.

The Commanders are far from perfect. Because they’re not at the level where I can certainly say they are a playoff caliber team, especially in a division with an improved Eagles and one that still has the Cowboys. They are still developing guys like Chase Young, who took a major step back in 2021 mainly due to his eight games missed because of injury. They still have a question mark at quarterback, and unless Wentz plays amazing this year, he won’t be the clear cut starter next season, as Washington has showed they are willing to make changes quickly at the quarterback position. But at the same time, they have the talent to not be a cakewalk for very good NFL teams. I have them losing to Jacksonville and Detroit in their first two weeks, but then beating the Titans, Cowboys and others later in the year. They will be inconsistent. And despite a 6-2 finish, a 2-7 start will ruin any hopes for Commanders fans, who are looking to see there team finally become a consistently respectful NFL team starting 2022!

My prediction: Commanders play inconsistent, close the season well, but aren’t able to win enough games, an 8-9 finish, and another mid-tier 1st round draft pick!


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