Another NFC East game for the Cowboys, another chance to get some intel from an SB Nation site. With the favored Dallas Cowboys (DraftKings Sportsbook) hosting the visiting Washington Commanders, we headed over to Hogs Haven to get some answers about their team.
Blogging The Boys: What’s the early verdict: Does Carson Wentz have a future in Washington or does he look like just a placeholder until someone new arrives?
Hogs Haven: I would say the jury is still very much out on Carson’s future in Washington. During Week 1, we got almost the full Carson Wentz experience in four quarters, a duo of touchdowns bookending two near-crippling interceptions. The last eight quarters of play, against the Lions and Eagles, have been more uniformly underwhelming, and Eagles’ fans came out of the woodwork to tell us they told us so.
Carson absolutely has the physical tools to be a top-end quarterback in the NFL, as he’s shown in the past, but he seems to make the same sorts of mistakes over and over again, which has frustrated Eagle/Colt/Commander fans for years now. If he can’t learn to do things this year that he hasn’t learned to do in his prior 6 years in the league, my sense is this could be his only year in DC.
BTB: Is Ron Rivera on any kind of hot seat with management or the fans? Or does he have a pretty long leash to get the Commanders going?
HH: Ron is in the third year of a five-year contract, and most observers of the team think he’s likely to get the chance to stay here through the end of that deal, if only because the ownership situation is such an absolute disaster. Ron is GM and Head Coach, and is in total control of football operations, so the only one that can cut him loose is Dan Snyder himself, and we all recognize that Danny’s political capital situation is such that there’s no way he could afford to fire the well-respected Rivera, who also happens to be one of the NFL’s few minority head coaches.
Ron’s situation with the fans is less secure. Until the past couple of weeks, most of the fan anger towards the coaches had been directed at defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, whose unit had been seriously underperforming for some time. In the last couple of weeks though, fan attention has been turned to Rivera, and if the Commanders finish sub .500 this year, I suspect there will be considerable fan support for bringing in both a new coach and front office. That won’t mean much, however, as ownership is in no position to make a change.
BTB: What are the major problems for the Commanders three games into the season?
HH: The odd thing about this season is that the major problems for the Commanders have been different in each of their three first games. Against the Jaguars, the Commanders played well across the board except for Carson’s two boneheaded interceptions and a fumble by Curtis Samuel on a first half drive that likely would have slammed the door on Jacksonville.
Against the Lions, the defense was atrocious, and the team got down 22-0 in the first half. The offense wasn’t great, but it did put some points on the board in the second half. The special teams performance against the Lions was also particularly poor. (https://www.hogshaven.com/2022/9/19/23360770/washingtons-special-teams-unit-put-on-clinic-in-dysfunctionality-in-week-2)
In the Eagles’ game, the defense actually held up pretty well against a challenging offense, but without any support whatsoever from Wentz and offensive coordinator Scott Turner, the defense eventually broke down, giving up 24 points in the second quarter alone. Unlike the Lions’ game, Washington’s offense never came alive, and Washington played one of its worst overall games in recent memory.
BTB: What is going right for the team that they can build on?
HH: The wide receiver group is very talented, and when Wentz has been able to get the ball into their hands, good things have happened. But, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson can’t do much if Wentz is on his back, or fumbling the ball into Dexter Lawrence’s hands.
The running game, led by Antonio Gibson has been fairly successful so far this season, but it was hardly used at all last week. In my opinion, Washington and Wentz need to be more focused on stringing together first downs than scoring touchdowns, particularly against a Cowboys’ defense that I expect may come out pretty aggressively against them to start the game.
BTB: The Cowboys are favorites at home this Sunday by three points. Do you think that’s a fair spread and how do you think the game eventually plays out?
HH: I actually think that spread is low. I expect the Cowboys to win by more than 3. I suspect Dallas’ defense could easily end up providing most of its offense, and that the Cowboys win 24-10.