June 29, 2022
This week, all week long, we're taking a negative look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. Today we'll take a look at the five alarm tire fire that is the Washington Commanders.
To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles' NFC East rivals, because, well, that's no fun. This will be 100 percent vitriolic. And yes, we'll get to the Eagles as well at the end of the series.
🔥 DUMPSTER FIRE SERIES 🔥
Wentz was the best player in the NFL in 2017, leading the Eagles to an 11-2 record before he tore his ACL and LCL, making way for Nick Foles to win the Eagles' first ever Super Bowl.
Wentz was not ready for the start of the 2018 season after spending all offseason rehabbing his knee, but he took over as the starter once again in Week 3 that season. Wentz's numbers looked good on paper, but he clearly wasn't the same player he was the year before. He would eventually suffer a back injury late in the season, and watch again as Foles led the Eagles into the playoffs, winning a wildcard round game against the Bears.
The Eagles won an absolutely dreadful NFC East in 2019, but in the first round of the playoffs, he was concussed on a first quarter cheap shot by Jadeveon Clowney, and had to give way to Josh McCown to finish the game. The nine snaps Wentz played in that game remain his only NFL playoff experience.
In 2020, Wentz had a disastrous season, going 3-7-1, before being pulled during a game against the Packers in favor of Hurts, who provided a spark, earned the opportunity to start another game, and then beat the 10-2 Saints in his NFL starting debut. Wentz never saw the field again as an Eagle. In the 12 games that Wentz played, he was arguably the worst starter in the NFL, posting the following numbers.
|34th (among 35 qualifying QBs)
|Most in the NFL
|Second-most in the NFL
|Most in the NFL
|33rd (among 35 qualifying QBs)
|34th (among 35 qualifying QBs)
He nearly achieved the "Triple Frown," for most INTs, fumbles, and sacks, despite being benched for the entire final quarter of the season.
During the 2021 offseason, angry about the benching and the fact that the Eagles had selected Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft, Wentz no longer wanted to play for the Eagles. Wentz himself even said that he began thinking of getting out of Philly while standing on the sidelines in Green Bay after he was benched. At no time did he ever take any real accountability for his own poor play, and his immediate reaction to (deservedly) being pulled from a game was to quit on his team.
By obliging Wentz's trade request to the Colts, the Eagles were willing to take on $33,820,611 in dead money on their 2021 salary cap, which at the time was the biggest dead money hit in NFL history by a country mile. Somehow the Eagles were able to get first- and third-round picks in return from Indianapolis.
Wentz really couldn't have possibly hand-picked a better situation, as the Colts had a good offensive line, arguably the best running back in the NFL, a (modest) upgrade in wide receiver talent, a talented defense, and a head coach with whom he felt a special connection in Frank Reich. Off the field, Wentz said that the "culture and values" fit his vibes.
He still failed.
On paper, Wentz's stats in 2021 looked decent enough, as he threw 27 TDs vs. 7 INTs. He made the occasional spectacular throw, but those moments of encouragement were overshadowed by his continued inability to make the "layup" throws, and his penchant for playing "hero ball" to his team's detriment. Hero ball to his team's detriment, you say? What does that mean? Well, for example:
Wentz was 1 for 4 for 2 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs when he attempted left-handed passes in 2021. #AdvancedStats. I can already hear the gears turning in Commanders fans' brains, making an argument between his left-handed and right-handed splits, ignoring that he will never stop making these dumb plays because he has no intention whatsoever of changing the reckless way he plays, and he probably never will.In the video above, the left-handed pick-six he threw against the Titans was hilarious in that Wentz stans defended it as "a smart play," because a safety would have ended the game whereas with a pick-six the Colts would get the ball back, as if Wentz had computed this while he was being thrown to the ground because he hadn't thrown the ball away sooner. But I digress.
With a 9-6 record heading into their final two games of the 2021 regular season, the Colts were near-locks to make the playoffs, needing only one win over the Raiders or the bottom-feeder Jaguars to punch their ticket to the postseason. Instead, largely due to a pair of bad performances by Wentz, the Colts lost both games and were eliminated.
Against the Raiders, he missed a wide open T.Y. Hilton on a play that likely would have ensured a Colts win.
The loss to the Jaguars Week 18 was particularly devastating, as Wentz completed 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, though the numbers didn't adequately convey how ineffective he was. He also lost a fumble on a vintage "2020 Wentz" play in which he tried to throw a shovel pass instead of just eating a sack.
At the NFL Combine, Colts general manager Chris Ballard could barely muster a kind word while answering a bevy of questions about Wentz. Owner Jim Irsay has not tried to hide that he absolutely despises Wentz, as he has taken shots at his former quarterback at every opportunity. Of course, that ramped up post-trade, but it was also pretty evident while Wentz was still on Indy's roster.
It's like Howie Roseman and the Eagles tossed a Wentz grenade into Lucas Oil Stadium and watched the carnage from afar.
It felt like Wentz was destined to be outright released by the Colts, but the stupid idiot Commanders swooped in and coughed up the following package of draft picks for him:
The Commanders also took on Wentz's salary in full, lol. He'll have the sixth-highest salary cap number in the NFL among quarterbacks in 2022, at $28,295,118.
The funny thing is that the Commanders know Wentz is soft, or Ron Rivera wouldn't have felt the need to assuage his feelings by assuring him that Sam Howell, a player they drafted in the fifth round, was just a developmental guy.
Ron Rivera said he and Carson Wentz spoke before the Commanders drafted Sam Howell. Explained the pick was about taking a developmental rookie.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 30, 2022
Since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, 25 different quarterbacks have started for Washington. They are Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk 'Kurt' Cousins, Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, and coming soon, Wentz.
What will 2023 bring? Probably some new scrub.
In case you missed it, Del Rio referred to the former president's attempted coup to overthrow the United States government on January 6 as a "dust up" that is unworthy of serious scrutiny.
Simultaneously, he offered a "whatabout" pointed at Black Lives Matters protesters who had seen enough of racial inequality and police brutality in America after George Floyd's murder in 2020.
"I see the images on the TV, people's livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down... no problem," Del Rio said about BLM protests during the summer of 2020. "We have a dust up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we're gonna make that a major deal."
Del Rio was fined $100,000 by Rivera for his comments, and Del Rio deactivated his Twitter account. Rivera was clear to note that he's a big First Amendment guy, and that Del Rio was only fined because he caused a distraction within the confines of the team. Via John Keim of ESPN:
"This is not about the fact he exercised his right to free speech," Rivera said. "This is about what impacted this football team. I believe in the First Amendment very strongly.
"It's a very serious question and topic, but at the end of the day, it did impact us. That's why I did what I did."
Del Rio's Twitter account has been a cesspool of right wing conspiracy theories for years. In the past, his players could probably just dismiss him as an idiot. But this time, he pissed off players enough that Rivera felt that some kind of punishment was a necessity.
Players don't have to like coaches. Some coaches demand a lot of their players physically or mentally, and the players don't like it. Some players don't like how much playing time they're getting, or how they're being used within the scheme. That happens at every level of football, and is just a basic part of sports. When dislike becomes disrespect, that's a bigger problem, particularly for a figure as important as the head of the defense.
The strength of this team in 2021 was supposed to be the defense, but the Commanders finished 27th in defensive DVOA. Frankly, Del Rio is lucky he wasn't fired, because he isn't a good enough coach to be worth all this non-football attention.
Young is the Commanders' most physically gifted player. After a good rookie season, he only had two sacks through the first nine games of the 2021 regular season, when he tore his ACL in a November 14 win over the Buccaneers. He missed the rest of the season, obviously.
Young will likely be placed on the PUP list prior to the start of training camp, and if he stays on PUP to begin the season, he would have to remain there for at least six games.
Whenever he is ready to play again, Young may not have the same explosiveness initially that he had pre-injury.
The Commanders are thinner along their defensive line than they have been the last couple of years as well, after losing Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle in free agency.
The Commanders' best linebacker is... um... Cole Holcomb? He's the only definite starter at linebacker, it appears. And then the other starting spot will be a battle between 2021 first-round linebacker Jamin Davis, who disappointed as a rookie, and a borderline 53-man roster-worthy guy in David Mayo.
I'm not sure there's a team in the NFL that would trade their linebacker situation with Washington's.
Terry McLaurin is a stud who is now rich, but beyond him, as always, there are only question marks.
Curtis Samuel only played in five games last season, and had just six catches for 27 yards. Samuel signed a three-year contract worth $34.5 million last offseason, a questionable decision at the time that now looks awful. Samuel missed time during Washington minicamp with "overall soreness." So did I.
Jahan Dotson is a rookie (who I actually like quite a bit), but a rookie nevertheless, and he's going to be counted on to contribute immediately.
Like Young above, Thomas tore an ACL last season. Thomas' occurred on December 5, which was Week 13 against the Raiders, ending his season. He also had a hamstring injury earlier in the season that cost him six games.
If Thomas isn't ready for the start of the regular season, the Commanders are down to John Bates, a good blocker but not yet much of a threat as a receiver, and rookie Cole Turner, who was basically a big receiver at Nevada.
With a questionable receiving corps, the Commanders really need Thomas to be the player he was in 2020, when he had 72 catches and 6 TDs. That's probably not happening.
Brandon Scherff quietly played out his rookie contract in full, including his fifth-year option, and was then franchise tagged twice. In his first opportunity to hit the free agent market, Scherff signed a three-year deal worth $49.5 million with the Jaguars.
In his seven years in Washington, Scherff made five Pro Bowls and was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2020.
They also cut Ereck Flowers, opening up two holes at guard.
One of those holes was filled by Andrew Norwell, who has started 111 games over an eight-year NFL career. He formerly played for Rivera in Carolina from 2014-2017, because of course he did.
They also added Trai Turner, who has started 104 games over an eight year NFL career. He formerly played for Rivera in Carolina from 2014-2019, because of course he did.
Norwell may be a slight upgrade over Flowers, but losing Scherff is huge blow.
In three years as an offensive coordinator, Turner hasn't ever finished in the top 20 in overall offensive DVOA or passing DVOA.
Good luck, Carson.
I don't know, who cares? Let's just get to Snyder already.
I don't even know where to start, but by the time you read this, there will be three or four new bombshell accusations made against Dan Snyder. My apologies for omitting them here. In other words, if you think I've missed something below, you're right! For the purpose of achieving some reasonable level of brevity, we'll try to just focus on rounding up Snyder's most recently reported sinister misdeeds.
Back in 2020, The Washington Post published a bombshell report in which more than a dozen women alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former team employees of Washington's football organization. This marked the beginning of the investigation of Snyder and the R-words/Football Team/Commanders, as it pertained to the pattern of sexual misconduct within its walls and elsewhere.
Snyder mostly avoided any direct hits within the 2020 piece, aside from allegedly ordering one of his sales executives, a former (male) cheerleader in college, to do cartwheels for his enjoyment. Snyder was also criticized for not doing more to create a workable environment for his female employees.
An internal investigation of Washington's workplace culture ensued, led by D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson. The initial result of that investigation, in July of 2021, was a $10 million fine for Snyder by the NFL. The findings of the investigation were never made public.
The NFL's refusal to publicly release the findings led to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to launch its own investigation of the Commanders' organization, in October of 2021.
A week ago today, the Committee released "new evidence of Snyder's role in creating a hostile workplace and his efforts to undermine investigations." 😬
First, from the Committee's memo in regard to Snyder's role in creating a toxic workplace:
• "Mr. Snyder’s former Chief Operating Officer, David Pauken, testified at a Committee deposition that when Mr. Snyder learned that a member of the team’s coaching staff had groped a public relations employee, Mr. Snyder refused to take action against the coach and instead directed that the victim 'stay away from the coach.'"
• "Mr. Pauken explained that Mr. Snyder fired female employees who engaged in consensual relationships with male members of the team’s football operations. Describing one such situation, Mr. Pauken explained, 'The female employees were fired, the male employee was — there were no repercussions other than he was restricted from additional sex with the cheerleaders.'"
• "A former long-time employee described how the team’s culture 'glorified drinking and womanizing,' and recalled an instance when Mr. Snyder had pressured him to drink excessively. He explained that employees were afraid to speak out 'because they had seen so many others lose their jobs.'"
While we're at it, we should probably remember this report from The Washington Post from 2020, in which cheerleaders posed in the Dominican Republic for a video released for sale to the public that contained no nudity, but a second video was allegedly created for team executives with "the good bits," without the cheerleaders' consent.
Next, here's the evidence the Committee found that shows Snyder launched a shadow investigation to discredit his accusers in the eyes of the NFL:
• "Lawyers for Mr. Snyder used their shadow investigation to create a 100-slide dossier with private emails, text messages, telephone records, and social media posts from journalists, victims, and witnesses who had made credible public accusations of harassment against the Commanders."
• "During the Wilkinson investigation, Mr. Snyder and his lawyers sent private investigators to the homes of former cheerleaders, offered hush money to try to dissuade them from cooperating with the investigation, and gathered thousands of emails from former Commanders President Bruce Allen in an effort to 'demonstrate that Bruce Allen had created a toxic environment at the Washington Commanders.'"
• "Mr. Snyder’s lawyers had direct access to the NFL and the law firm conducting the investigation, and secretly shared information from their shadow investigation in an apparent attempt to influence the Wilkinson investigation."
The "dossier" noted above is extremely creepy.
And finally, the Committee "uncovered information" that casts doubt on the NFL's claim that the internal investigation into the toxic workplace was independent.
• "The NFL initially allowed Mr. Snyder to investigate his own team, including his role in the toxic work environment, and only took over the investigation after multiple public reports revealed that Mr. Snyder was personally implicated in sexual misconduct."
• "After the League took over the investigation, the NFL and the Commanders entered into a common interest agreement that gave Mr. Snyder a back-channel to make confidential presentations to the NFL and block the release of information."
• "A retainer agreement between the NFL and the law firm handling the internal investigation established that a written report of the findings would be completed at the conclusion of the investigation, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a break with previous practice, changed course and requested oral briefings instead, further ensuring the findings would not come to light."
In regard to the bullet point above noting Snyder's personal implication in sexual misconduct, The Washington Post reported last Tuesday that a former employee accused Snyder of groping her on one of the team's private planes.
An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused owner Daniel Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her in April 2009, three months before the team agreed to pay the woman $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Washington Post.
The woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to a letter sent by an attorney for the team to the woman’s lawyer in 2009. The woman alleged the assault occurred in a private, partitioned area at the back of one of the team’s private planes during a return flight from a work trip to Las Vegas.
Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, the letter states, and a team investigation accused her of fabricating her claims as part of an extortion attempt. But Snyder and the team eventually agreed to pay her a seven-figure sum as part of a settlement in which she agreed not to sue or publicly disclose her allegations.
The $1.6 million payout had been reported by The Washington Post in 2020, but the allegations were not known until this latest report.
In the Committee's memo, links to full transcripts of depositions were included, and sure enough, some interesting stories emerged. Like this:
Still working through the hundreds of pages but it’s going to be hard to beat the Sour Milk Story. This is from David Pauken’s testimony. pic.twitter.com/SxuQSiftFh— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) June 23, 2022
From the congressional testimony records: Former COO David Pauken alleges that Dan Snyder brought what he assumed were prostitutes on a Final Four trip. pic.twitter.com/N0AsjvDDJP— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) June 23, 2022
Oh, and he's also being investigated for using "two books" to track finances.
In summary, Dan is in some trouble. And again, there's plenty more that we could have rounded up here.
The Committee initially kindly invited Snyder to a deposition, but he was like, "Oh hey Committee. How's it going? I'd really love to talk with you guys and be super cooperative and junk but I'm out of the country. Such a bummer. I'm sure we'll hook up soon, tho. 👍"
And then when the Committee said, "Oh that's OK, we don't need you be in person. It can be over Zoom," Snyder was like, "Ahhhh, yeaaaah, see, I'm on my boat, and the reception here... gee whiz, it's just not that great."
So then the Committee subpoenaed Snyder, and he was like, "Ooooh, yeah, I'm really sorry, but that date just isn't going to work for me. Hope you guys are good!"
Apparently you can track the movements of Snyder's yacht, on which Snyder is essentially hiding out until, what, this all blows over?
I honestly kinda feel bad for Commanders fans. They love football, like the rest of us, and it causes them to kid themselves about maybe enjoying each upcoming season (as it would with most fan bases).
But deep down they already know what the outcome is going to be before it begins, and it has to be utterly exhausting following along as this creep little owner takes advantage of everyone in his path while putting a shit product on the field every year.