Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Washington Red-ball-manders, whatever they are, are actually an interesting team to pay attention to in 2023. Because Dan Snyder is no longer running the franchise, and the Commanders are running with first year starting quarterback Sam Howell. With a playoff caliber team around him, can the Commanders actually make a run at the postseason? And more importantly, is Sam Howell the answer at quarterback? Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Commanders going into 2023!
It has to be answered: Is Sam Howell the long-term answer at quarterback for Washington?
The Commanders actually had a really nice 2022 campaign. The nations capital football team went 8-8-1 despite a 1-4 start due to a 6-1 record between weeks 6 and 12. And yet they were able to do this with very below average quarterback play. Carson Wentz fell off dramatically from his solid 2021 campaign in Indianapolis, as the former interception leader completed under 63% of his passes, just 11 touchdowns and to nine interceptions. The Commanders also went 2-5 in games he started. Who they did do well with however is Taylor Heinicke, as the Commanders 5-3-1 record with him under center was not surprising when you see a 12:6 TD-INT ratio. There just wasn’t a lot of good football at QB going on in DC in 2022!
The offense was more carried by the rushing attack. Brian Robinson Jr. played just 12 games due to get shot multiple times before the season, but the Alabama standout still totaled over 850 total yards of scrimmage and three touchdowns. I’m expecting a breakout season from him in 2022. It was Commander veteran Antonio Gibson who carried the rushing game for the first portion of the season, and he totaled just under 600 yards for the year. In the receiving game, obviously Terry McLaurin made a massive impact, accumulating close to 1200 yards and five touchdowns. Curtis Samuel was solid with 652 yards, and rookie Jahan Dotson–who totaled 523 yards and seven touchdowns in just 12 games–is bound to have a breakout season in 2023!
Defensively, they’re linebacker core wasn’t terrific as their tackling leader, Jamin Davis, had just 104 tackles in 2022. But the defensive line is one of the best in football. We unfortunately didn’t see a large enough sample size of Chase Young due to injury, but a healthy Young alongside Jonathan Allen, coming off of a 7.5 sack campaign and Daron Payne, coming off of an 11.5 sack campaign, will be one of the more dominant defensive lines in football in 2023. In the secondary, Kendall Fuller was terrific, as he snagged three interceptions and returned two to the end zone, and Darrick Forrest had 4 interceptions, a mark that was 11th in the entire NFL!
So with a close to postseason team with really only has questions at the quarterback position, Washington didn’t do much in free agency but did fix their quarterback problem. Washington let go of both Wentz (free agent) and Heinicke (Falcons), and signed long time veteran Jacoby Brissett. Brissett has a ton of experience as a starter and as a backup in this league, most recently as the started for the first 11 games in Cleveland while Deshaun Watson was suspended, completing a career high 64% of his passes, and recorded a 12:6 TD-INT ratio with the 20th best passer rating in football. He also with 6th in the NFL among all quarterbacks in PFF rating, proving he is a quality starter in this league.
But he will back up now second year pro Sam Howell. The fifth round pick in 2022 only played one game last season, the final one of the season against Dallas, and was pretty decent. He threw for close to 170 yards, a touchdown and led them to a 20 point win, but he also threw an interception and completed under 58% of his passes. However you look at the game doesn’t matter. We don’t have a large enough sample size to say Howell is going to be good, or bad, in this league. But fifth round quarterbacks often don’t pan out. And I’m not sure if Howell is an accurate enough quarterback to be the franchise’s long-term passer. He will probably play at least average football this season with Robinson, McLaurin and Dotson, but how Howell plays this season will definitely determine whether Washington should move on or stick with him at quarterback.
But the crazy thing is, that was pretty much it this offseason for the Commanders! Outside of the Brissett move and signing Daron Payne, the Commanders did practically nothing in free agency or in the trade market. The only other notable move they made was drafting Mississippi cornerback Emanuel Forbes, a turnover machine in college. But taking him over Christian Gonzalez may be a questionable move. Forbes, a guy who is very similar to Trevon Diggs–an inconsistent corner in coverage yet creates many turnovers–should have a good season, but it won’t be enough to make the Commanders a really good team.
This season will be interesting for Washington. Because if Young can stay healthy and if Howell plays good football, this is probably a playoff football team. But with the Commanders playing a very tough NFC East, and also having the 9th hardest schedule in the NFL overall according to Sharpe Football Analysis, not to mention the many question marks surrounding this team, I just can’t see Washington making the postseason. I can see many of there young players having great seasons including Dotson and Forbes, but I don’t think they’re a good enough team as a whole to make the playoffs! That doesn’t mean they won’t be an intriguing team to watch in 2023!
Prediction: Commanders win between 6-8 games and miss the playoffs, but see a breakout season from Dotson and possibly a DROY type season from Forbes!
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