The Washington Commanders will enter the 2022 NFL season with many unanswered questions both on and off the field. Fans of the team are hoping against hope that the team can improve on the 7-10 record from last season and compete for a playoff berth in the NFC East. Why the eternal optimism from the fan base of this team. Did the NFL draft give them hope for a brighter season in 2022? Has owner Daniel Snyder given any indication that he can return the once proud franchise back to its former glory?
The Washington Commanders have won the highly competitive NFC East division nine times in their storied history and have won three Vince Lombardi trophies winning it all in the 1982, 1987, and 1991 seasons. Coach Joe Gibbs is the only NFL coach to win three Super Bowl’s with three different quarterbacks, Joe Theismann in 82, Doug Williams in 87, and Mark Rypien in 91. In addition to the Super Bowl championships the team has two NFL Championships in 1937, and 1942.
Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999 and the franchise has never recovered. The team is 156-212 according to pro-football-reference.com. The team is 2-6 in the playoffs during his tenure as team owner, making the playoffs just six times in 22 years. The Washington Commanders have had nine head coaches since Snyder took the team over. Norv Turner had a 7-6 record with Washington under Snyder before being fired. The only other coach to post a .500 record during the Snyder regime was Marty Schottenheimer who went 8-8 in his one year with the team, every other coach under Snyder has a losing record with the team. Do not forget that Snyder employed both Mike Shanahan and Joe Gibbs who have a combined 5 Super Bowl titles between them and neither of them have a winning record with the team.
The Washington Commanders last made the playoffs in 2020 losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-31 in the Wild Card round. The last playoff victory for the franchise came in the 2005 season defeating Tampa Bay 17-10 in the Wild Card round. So, what is the common denominator for this dysfunctional team? It certainly cannot be blamed on the coaches as no coach has lasted more than four years. The team lacks stability in all key positions apart from the owner, Daniel Snyder.
Carson Wentz will lead the team at quarterback for the struggling franchise next season in what he hopes will be the revitalization of his career. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants each had a stellar draft to build their teams and the Dallas Cowboys look like they will continue to have a stranglehold on the division. A healthy Dak Prescott looks to return to his pre-injury form and make a deep playoff run for the Cowboys. The question for Washington fans is did the organization do enough to help this team win?
The Washington Commanders selected wide receiver Jahan Dotson from Penn State with the number 16 overall pick. This pick was a result of trading the number 11 pick to the New Orleans Saints for the number 16, 98, and 120th picks. In the second round the Commanders selected defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis from Alabama. Later in the draft the team selected a running back and then a safety in rounds three and four, respectively. Overall, the draft addressed some of the needs of the team, but they did not land a franchise player. While no one pick in Washington’s draft class is a game changer for the team they were able to supplement the receiving corps and the safety position which should help the team both immediately and in the long term.
Looking ahead to the 2022 season for the Commanders is there reason for optimism for the Washington fan base? Short answer, not really. The positive is that the Washington Commanders statistically have the easiest schedule, tied with the Dallas Cowboys, based on the overall winning percentage of their 2021 opponents. This is where the good news ends for the team. Washington is coming off a 7-10 season in which the only team they finished above in their division was the New York Giants. They have a new quarterback under center and will be facing divisional foes that significantly upgraded their rosters.
September and October (3-5)
I look for the team to start the season hot with wins against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home followed up by a road win against the Detroit Lions in week 2. The next two weeks are divisional games against the Eagles and Cowboys. The motivation for Wentz facing his old team won’t be enough as Washington goes 0-2 during this stretch. This puts the team at 2-2 heading into a clash against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans will simply be too much for Washington as they drop this game at home against the Titans. A Thursday night game against the Chicago Bears will be just what the doctor ordered as the team gets back into the win column and stays in the playoff picture with a 3-3 record. The Commanders will close out the month of October with back-to-back losses to the Packers and Colts.
November and December (4-5)
The Washington Commanders will enter the last half of the season sitting at 3-5 as they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town. A home loss followed by a road loss to NFC East rivals the Philadelphia Eagles drops the team to 3-7 and on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Washington will split the next two games, picking up a win against the Houston Texans and dropping a game to the Atlanta Falcons. The next two games are against the New York Giants with a bye in between. Washington and the G-Men split this pair before the final stretch of the regular season begins in earnest. The Commanders will go 2-1 in their final three games dropping a game to the 49ers and defeating the Clevland Browns. The season will end for Washington as they defeat the Dallas Cowboys, who will be resting their starters for the playoffs, in the final game of the regular season.
The Washington Commanders will find themselves with the exact same record as they had last season but will find themselves at the bottom of the NFC East Division. Without a change in ownership the Washington Commanders are destined to be mired in mediocrity. Long gone are the days glory days for the once proud franchise due to an inept owner who refuses or is unable to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. Commanders’ fans have my sympathies as they must endure year after year incompetence from ownership.