After a win over the Titans last Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys (12-4) wrap up their regular season this Sunday as they travel to D.C. to take on the Washington Commanders (7-8-1). Washington’s loss on Sunday eliminated them from playoff contention and their offense’s inability to perform was a big reason for their late-season collapse.
Today, we take a look at the struggling Commanders’ offense and give you three things to know about the unit before the two teams square off on Sunday afternoon.
1) An uncertain quarterback situation
The Washington Commanders entered the 2022 season believing they had finally found their signal-caller. Washington acquired former number two overall pick Carson Wentz during the offseason, and were hopeful Wentz could finally live up to his draft status.
Unfortunately for Wentz and the Commanders, things have gone about as poorly as possible. Injuries have limited Wentz to playing in just eight games, and the 30-year-old’s on-field performance has been brutal.
Out of 41 quarterbacks that have played at least 165 snaps this season, Wentz ranks in the bottom seven in EPA + CPOE (0.010 35th), Adj. EPA/Play (-0.054 36th), EPA/Play (-0.062 35th), and CPOE (-3.7 35th).
Took Carson Wentz 3 plays to throw an INT pic.twitter.com/IbXXELrOyw— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 1, 2023
Taylor Heinicke, who replaced Wentz as the starter for nine games, did lead Washington to a 5-3-1 record, but his overall performance was not much better. Heinicke struggled so much in his last start against the 49ers that Ron Rivera and the Commanders’ staff benched him in favor of Wentz.
Washington’s quarterback situation is up in the air for their Week 18 matchup against the Cowboys. With it being a meaningless game from their standpoint, they may give rookie quarterback Sam Howell his first NFL start.
Whoever starts at quarterback shouldn’t matter from the Cowboys’ perspective. Their defense should be able to have a successful day regardless of who takes the snaps for the Commanders.
2) An underrated trio of receivers
One bright spot for the Commanders on the offensive side of the ball has been the performance of their top three receivers. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and rookie Jahan Dotson have all had solid seasons for Washington’s offense.
- Terry McLaurin (16G) - 74 receptions, 1117 yards, 15.1 Y/R, 4 TDs
- Curtis Samuel (16G) - 63 catches, 658 yards, 10.4 Y/R, 4 TDs
- Jahan Dotson (11G) - 32 catches, 451 yards, 14.1 Y/R, 7 TDs
Dotson has been extremely impressive over the past month. In fact, the rookie became the first player this season to post three-consecutive games with 50+ receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
Commanders WR Jahan Dotson’s last three games:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 30, 2022
5 catches, 54 yards, TD
4 catches, 105 yards, TD
6 catches, 76 yards, TD
No player in the NFL has had a longer streak of games with 50+ receiving yards and a TD this season. pic.twitter.com/u8wTqGhTqp
Overall, the Commanders have a talented receiving corps, they just don’t have a good enough quarterback to get them the football. If the trio of McLaurin, Samuel, and Dotson were playing with a more talented quarterback their numbers would look even better than they already do this season.
If whoever plays quarterback for the Commanders on Sunday is able to get the ball to this trio of wideouts, Dallas will have their hands full trying to slow them down.
3) A continuation of poor offensive line play
In recent memory, it just seems like the Commanders’ organization can never get their offensive line to play at a high level. Once again this season, Washington’s offensive line has been a major weakness, as the unit has performed under expectations.
The Commanders’ O-line has given up the seventh-most sacks (45) in football, and ranks in the bottom 10 in pass-block (61.9) and run-block grade (55.5), via Pro Football Focus. Three of the Commanders’ starters on the offensive line have PFF offensive grades below 60, and just two linemen, Charles Leno Jr. and Sam Cosmi, have an offensive grade above 70 on the year.
Washington’s line has really struggled during their recent skid, allowing 13 sacks over their last four games and getting overpowered on a consistent basis by opposing defensive lines. The Cowboys have been struggling to get after the quarterback over the past couple of weeks, but those struggles could very well come to an end this Sunday against an underperforming Commanders’ offensive line.