The only reasons Washington D.C. sports fans are looking ahead to the NFL season may be to see how bad the Carson Wentz deal turns out or to play fantasy football instead of expecting anything from the Commanders.
Well, there is new team merchandise to buy, but do you want to advertise backing a team swirling in controversy off the field and doesn’t offer much hope, yet again?
Along with the Cowboys, Raiders, and Dolphins, Washington’s NFL team is among a select group of “has-been” franchises that can only look back to the past century for anything to brag about to other fanbases – as opposed to stronger contenders on the race to the 57 Super Bowl, who can claim recent accomplishments even on this latest preseason.
The Commanders Don’t Command Any Optimism
Carson Wentz Won’t Generate Hope
Nowadays, being a sports fan in the Washington D.C. area means enduring an overall gloomy existence. The Nationals have fallen far from a World Series victory, with Juan Soto muddling through a disappointing season and Stephen Strasburg suffering from another injury. The Capitals made a quick exit, and the Wizards didn’t even make the playoffs.
The Commanders have changed their name but still, generate widespread local facepalms. Many of the team’s still-loyal followers shook their heads in disbelief after the team traded for Carson Wentz, who the Colts couldn’t get rid of fast enough. The struggle to find a good starter has continued since the team drafted Heath Shuler in 1994. It’s too bad that Ryan Fitzpatrick retired.
It has been apparent over the past four years that it is not likely that Wentz will recapture the excellent form of his first two pro seasons. Taking a chance on him made the Colts look foolish, and now the Commanders are pinning their offensive hopes on him in what could be a significant miscalculation.
Yes, it is hard to find a good starting QB in the NFL, but we can’t realistically expect the Commanders to be anything more than a wild card team with Wentz at QB. The team is already being second-guessed, as Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan could have stirred more optimism as acquisitions.
There will be pressure on Wentz to boost an offense that will have to compensate for problems on defense. The Washington defensive line is comprised of highly-touted performers, but there was chatter that the unit underachieved last season.
The linebacking crew is thin and underwhelming, and the secondary is shaky. With Wentz at QB and significant defensive issues to address, plus a culture in which winning is a lost art and keeping distractions out is a regular task, the Commanders already are shaping up to be one of the worst teams in the NFC. That could be a nifty feat, considering they don’t even have the worst QB in their division (the Giants have that guy).
Not Enough Weaponry To Avoid Mediocrity
The team deserves credit for attempting to surround Wentz with a decent supporting cast. The Commanders made sure to keep Wentz and the fans happy in one regard by locking up their one true star on offense, Terry McLaurin. He does give Wentz a bonafide No. 1 WR, and McLaurin is the best wide receiver Wentz will play with in his career.
First-round wideout Jahan Dotson could instantly become a quality complement to McLaurin. He is a savvy route runner for a rookie, and he has good yardage after the catch skills. In addition, a healthy Curtis Samuel is a versatile weapon, and Cam Sims has shown the propensity to make timely and tough catches.
Running back J.D. McKissic is one of the league’s best pass-catching threats out of the backfield. This is unquestionably the best receiving group Wentz will have worked with in his career. Plus, there should be ample support from the running game.
The offense may not be terrible, but it will not be outstanding enough to compensate for the defensive shortcomings or engage in shootouts. Ultimately, the Commanders don’t have enough firepower to challenge divisional rivals such as Dallas and Philadelphia. In addition, they don’t have a QB that can operate like a true franchise player and elevate teammates around him.
Some organizations, like the Seahawks and Jets, focus on the future while they may struggle in the present. Unfortunately, the Commanders offer little hope in that regard. Wentz is likely not the team’s future QB, and he doesn’t inspire confidence in the present. Moreover, at some point, the defensive line may get broken up due to affordability issues.
There isn’t much to look forward to from the Commanders right now, and attendance will continue to wane.
It’s a new era with a new name, but the bleak outlook remains the same.
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