This team will live and die by the play of Carson Wentz. Similarly to Dallas, and Wentz’s original home, Philadelphia, the Commanders’ season will most likely mirror the season their quarterback has. Outside of Wentz and first-round pick Jahan Dotson, the Commanders didn’t do much outside of adding depth along the rest of the roster. The additions of rookies Sam Howell, Brian Robinson, Chris Paul, Cole Turner, and Phidarian Mathis make a ton of sense and are exciting for the Wentz era of Washington football. This roster is, however, still just a couple of injuries away from relying on practice squad level players. The strong selections in the later rounds of their draft can help Washington in the near future, but with such youth, and such a lack of established talent on the depth chart, what you see is what you’ll get with Washington in ‘22.
It’s impossible to discuss this team’s offseason without including the new three-year contract, and $78 million handed to Terry McLaurin. It’s a contract that needed to get done, is well-deserved, and meets the market rate. Reinforcing the wide receiver room is a trend growing throughout teams with less-than-elite quarterbacks. We’ve seen it most recently in Philadelphia, Arizona, Las Vegas, and Miami. While the Commanders had many other areas of need, it’s easy to see why a coach like Ron Rivera could see value in a prospect like Jahan Dotson. Dotson provides a floor as a receiver prospect that many have likened to Emmanuel Sanders. What I appreciate about the Commanders offseason is that they mirrored Philadelphia in the sense of investing in assets that directly affect their quarterback’s play. While neither franchise is uber-committed to their current signal caller, it provides the teams the ability to eliminate excuses and more objectively judge their young passer’s performance. If Wentz doesn’t meet expectations, they will still have their assembled supporting cast for Sam Howell, Taylor Heineke, or any other future quarterback to utilize.
Further, what fans have to look forward to in this season from the Commanders is that the injury bug rarely strikes in the same place twice in a row. In 2021s 7-10 campaign, Chase Young (8), Jonathan Bostic (13), Landon Collins (4), and Montez Sweat (5) each forfeited significant time to injuries, and were all missed dearly. Ahead of the ‘21 season, the Washington defense was projected out to be one of the toughest in the league, but wound up in the bottom fourth of nearly all measurable rankings. Should this unit remain healthy, Commanders faithful can, if nothing else, expect the team to stand tough against opposing offenses.
They are the 4th best team in this division, and have been for a while. What they decide to do with Daron Payne will impact the team’s trajectory quite a bit, as they can rebalance their team composition and redefine how they want/need to build moving forward.