The Washington Commanders faced the Carolina Panthers this past Saturday in both teams’ first preseason game, let’s take a look at a few things Washington was able to learn.
The Washington Commanders are a franchise looking to rebound from a 2021 season that felt like a letdown to many after winning the NFC East the year before. The organization rebranded in the offseason and is looking to entice its proud fanbase back into the seats at FedEx Field.
If the newly titled “Commanders” are to do just that, it will have to start with the product on the field taking a major step forward. The 90-year-old franchise set out on its 2022 mission to attempt to do just that this past Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field.
Learn And Improve
The name of the game for this team in preseason needs to be learn and improve. They’ll get three practice runs to get it all right, they need to work out all the kinks before things start to count.
For Antonio Gibson, that means seeking out others who may have had the fumbling issues he’s been dealing with. While it may seem drastic to some of the younger crowd, better players have disappeared for the same thing.
In Gibson’s case, his issues resurfacing could not be coming at a worse time as rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr is ready, willing, and able to prove to everyone he should have gotten more carries while at Alabama. What Gibson needs to learn is in the NFL everybody is replaceable…it’s now or never.
Sam Howell Stock Up, Heinicke Stock Down
Rookie quarterback Sam Howell looked impressive as the third-string quarterback, mind you, against the third-string defense. Howell was able to bring the Commanders back into the game late in the 4th with a pair of touchdown runs. In a perfect world, we won’t see Howell in 2022, he should just be ready to learn and soak it all in.
Taylor Heinicke on the other hand didn’t look as sharp. Heinicke’s job is likely still safe, out of all the quarterbacks on the roster he’s the one that knows the system the best. All that said, Taylor needs to do better than he did against the Panthers Saturday.
Heinicke went 4-9 with 21 yards passing, two carries for 14 yards, and a very costly interception.
Another player who saw their stock rise against the Panthers was rookie running back Brian Robinson. The former Alabama standout had six carries for 26 yards and a touchdown, to go with two catches for 14 yards receiving.
Defensive Third Downs Are Still A Problem
For the last few season’s Washington has had issues with defensive third downs. The team ranked 31st in the league a year ago in the defensive third down percentage, and if things stay anything like they were in their first preseason game, Commanders fans may be in for a long season if the offense can’t outscore teams.
The Commanders defense gave up 11 of 18 third downs. Sadly, the stat is a bit skewed because in the last third down Carolina was just trying to position the ball for a field goal, so honestly, 11 of 17. That’s not a good ratio for those that may be wondering.
The New Fight Song Is…Different
The franchise unveiled the team’s new fight song before the game. While the song was presented well by the performers, the content itself is lacking in a backbone.
This song was presented just a few weeks back with a certain 1920’s big band twang to it that somebody decided to change to a more anthem-like song. And by anthem, I mean from another country. Fans won’t be sure if they should salute whatever mascot the team chooses or cover their hearts.
As much as this front office tries, it seems like their a bit tone deaf on what the fans want versus what they want. Most fans have already stated they either won’t sing at all or will still sing the old song.