Know Your Enemy is back for 2022. The NFC North takes on the full NFC East (Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington) and AFC East (Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets) this season for 8 out of 17 games.
The Washington Redskins Football Team Commanders are up first to get know as an enemy. The Commanders are a mess off the field. Investigations galore on the owner and culture, harassment, , testimonies to Congress, DC Jack Del Rio fined 100K for calling Jan 6 a dust up have Washington in a tail spin despite their new name. They are in Command of nothing.
However, Washington still has a football team that will compete in the NFC East though. Riverboat Ron Rivera returns as Head Coach after a 7-10 2021 season. Washington was 3-5 at home and 4-5 away from Fed EX Field. Washington scored 19.7 PPG on offense (24th in the league) with QB woes. DC Jack Del Rio and Rivera run a 4-3 defense and allowed 25.5 PPG (25th in league) and forced 19 turnovers (25th in league) on defense despite a stacked defensive line. Former Lions GM Martin Mayhew is the Commanders GM. Let’s take-a-look at their roster he created this season.
Washington’s biggest strength is their defensive line. Four 1st round picks line up in the trenches for the Commanders. Chase Young is the best of the bunch but is coming off ACL injury and might not be ready for training camp or the start of the season. Young was a beast as a rookie in 2020 but had a sophomore slump in 2021 with 1.5 sacks in 9 games before a major injury. Washington hopes Young returns at some point in 2022 and returns to rookie form. Jonathan Allen is a beast DT and ranked 3rd for all interior defenders. Darron Payne is a solid NT but wants a new contract but the Commanders drafted Phildarian Mathis in Round 2 to replace him essentially next year and provide good depth this season. Montez Sweat is another 1st round pick DE and played well (22 out of 108 edge defenders). If Young is healthy, this a good defensive line but DE is not deep at all.
I would say Washington has good weapons now after this offseason. Terry McLaurin is a good WR (1,053 yards and 5 TDs) but he is in a contract dispute and wants to be paid. Jahan Dotson was drafted in Round 1 of the draft to add a spark to the offense and punt return. Curtis Samuel is a dangerous slot WR/RB that they hope gets more production in year 2 with them out of FA. Dyami Brown is 3rd round pick from 2021 for depth but struggled his rookie year.
Logan Thomas is a solid but oft injured TE (294 snaps). John Bates is a 4th rounder from 2021 that Washington hopes develops at TE along with rookie 5th rounder Cole Turner. Cam Sims is some experienced depth at WR too.
Washington has plenty of weapons for new QB Carson Wentz for 2022.
Solid but Questions
The weapons talent to success will depend on the new QB situation. Washington traded for Carson Wentz (from the Colts) after one failed year in Indy (traded from Eagles to Colts in the prior year). Washington hopes OC Scott Turner can turn his career around. The former starter now backup Taylor Henicke had 65% completion, 20 TDs and 15 interceptions with a 85.9 QB rating. Henicke got the start after Ryan Fitpatrick got hurt early in Week 1 and Henicke had a strong late 2020 including a playoff game.
Henicke proved not to be a good starter in the long run and thus the Commanders traded for Wentz. Wentz was 62.4% completion for 3,563 yards and had 27 TDs and 7 interceptions for the Colts for 94.6 rating. This is still solid despite the Colts injuries. However, Wentz wilted down the stretch and didn’t play well against Jacksonville causing the Colts to miss the playoffs. Wentz will need to prove he can be more than just solid for the 2022 season. Washington hopes he is the long term answer to a carousel of QBs. Sam Howell was drafted in Round 5 after early buzz of going on day 1 or day 2 of the draft. Washington wants to develop Howell in case Wentz fails.
Charles Leno was good LT in 2021 (12th out 83 tackles). The former Bear found a new home in Washington and was fine in 2021. Sam Cosmi was the 2nd round pick in 2021 from Texas. He was solid at 30th out of 83 tackles. Chase Rouillier is a good center (4th ranked center in 2021). Washington lost Brandon Scherff but added Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner to replace him at guard. Turner was above-average and Norwell is average in 2021 (but has been good). Wes Schweitzer was a good backup in 400 snaps last year and Corenlius Lucas is experienced LT backup. Saadiq Charles is a former 4th round pick that backups LG. Tyler Larsen is a veteran backup center. Washington has enough on the offensive line but this line can be beaten too.
Antonio Gibson had 1,037 yards at 4 YPC. JD McKissic returns as a nice gadget/receiving RB but added 212 yards on 4.4 YPC. Brian Robinson was drafted in Round 3 out of Alabama to add to the stable of backs and kick returners. Washington can be decent running the ball if they get good run blocking.
Kendall Fuller excelled as the 3rd best CB per PFF in his return to Washington. Big time CB signing William Jackson struggled in his first year on a big contract with Washington. Washington clearly hopes for a return to Cincinnati form for Jackson. Slot CB Danny Johnson played solidly at 46 out of 116 CBs. Backup 2nd year 3rd round pick Benjamin St-Juste struggled as a rookie but is the top outside CB depth. Corn Elder (former Panther and Lion) reunites with Rivera as the backup slot. Washington has enough at CB especially if they get a pass rush.
Safety has two know names that actually played well in 2021. Bobby McCain was 26th out of 92 safeties and Kamren Curl was 32nd out of 92. Washington dumped Landon Collins big contract because of it. Add in rookie 4th round pick Chrisitian Holmes and experienced Troy Apke and it could be a solid safety room again. Solid is beatable though especially if Jackson continues to struggle.
2nd year LB Jammin Davis was Washington’s first round pick in 2021. He is uber athletic but took his rookie lumps in 2021. Rivera hopes for a big jump from him. Cole Holecomb is an average at best LB but can have success with the defensive line in front of him. David Mayo is solid depth and 3rd LB when not in nickel looks. LB is the weakpoint of the team but can improve if Davis take a year 2 jump.
Washington visits Detroit in Week 2 and Chicago in Week 6 on Thursday Night Football. The Commanders host the Packers Week 7 and the Vikings Week 9. This is a winnable game for all NFC North teams but don’t sleep on Washington. They have enough talent, won 7 games last year despite all the QB struggles and could steal a win or two against the NFC North.