While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Washington Commanders.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
It was a streaky season for the squad formerly known as the Football Team in 2021. After alternating wins and losses in their first four outings, they proceeded to lose four straight, then win four straight, then lose four straight again before winning their final game against the Giants. Going into Week 14, Washington still had a decent chance of making the postseason before their collapse down the stretch.
The Commanders (I will call them that even when referencing prior seasons) weren't impressive on either side of the ball last year despite how strong their defense was coming off 2020's unlikely playoff run. Injuries certainly played a part in that, as did their attempted short-term fix to the quarterback position.
Significant Roster Moves
Washington lost a bunch of players in the offseason who contributed significant reps a season ago, though most of them either weren't part of the starting lineup consistently or missed portions of the season with injury. Landon Collins, Jonathan Bostic, and Matthew Ioannidis highlight that list on defense, while two key offensive linemen, Ereck Flowers and Brandon Scherff, also departed.
The biggest addition Washington made was trading for former Eagles and Colts QB Carson Wentz. Wentz is a young, gutsy quarterback who still has starting potential in the league, but who struggles to stay healthy and often creates careless turnovers. It's likely that Wentz will be an improvement from Taylor Heinicke, but if he struggles early on, his leash will probably be rather short.
2022 Draft Class
The Commanders had eight selections in the 2022 draft, though four of them came in the final round. Their first four picks, WR Jahan Dotson, DL Phidarian Mathis, RB Brian Robinson, and S Percy Butler will likely see significant playing time right away, while the other four will attempt to work their way up the depth chart.
Washington did select a QB in the 7th round, Sam Howell out of North Carolina. We'll see if they're able to develop him into a starter down the line, though his opportunity may come earlier than anticipated depending on how Washington's season goes in 2022.
The Commanders will take on the NFC North and the AFC South to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and Cleveland Browns. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .462, Washington has the easiest schedule in the NFL.
Washington's primetime games include one Thursday night game at Chicago and one Monday night game at Philadelphia.
The Commanders return 20 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, including the entire starting lineup from the defense. Essentially, the full starting lineup returns with the exception of quarterback, where they will hope they see more consistency in 2022. Although, Carson Wentz isn't necessarily the definition of consistency, unfortunately.
Washington will hope their guys can remain healthy over the course of the season unlike in 2021 to give them a better chance to make a playoff run this time around.
Ron Rivera enters his third season as head coach of the Washington Commanders. Scott Turner and Jack Del Rio joined the team with Rivera and enter their third seasons as well, while Nate Kaczor has notched one additional year of experience in Washington.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Washington at 8 games. As of right now, the Commanders are the 3rd most likely team to win the NFC East and the 10th most likely team to win the NFC as a whole. At +7000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are 22nd among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
There are probably some people out there who think the addition of Carson Wentz should bring the Commanders at least a couple more wins in 2022, but I am skeptical of that after watching a lot of Wentz in 2021. Washington has great talent on defense and some impressive offensive skill players, but a lot of their success will come down to Wentz being smart with the ball and making the right decisions. I love his gutsiness, but it sometimes causes him to be somewhat reckless and try to force things out of nothing.
Maybe I'll be proven wrong and the Commanders will look like a different team this season. Well, I guess they will look like a different team either way considering they've completely rebranded from last year, but that's beside the point. I'm predicting Washington to finish with the same record as a season ago and end up outside of playoff contention again.
What do you think? Will Washington be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Commanders surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson