Commanders aim for winning season with new quarterback, exciting receivers

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This season Washington’s National Football League team has a new name (Commanders), new uniforms (still burgundy and gold) and a new quarterback (Carson Wentz).

The question is whether the Commanders will be the same old team?

During the past 20 NFL seasons, Washington has enjoyed only five winning records and has won only one playoff game. Even worse, in 10 of those seasons Washington has lost 10 or more games, a sign of a bad NFL team.

Will the 2022 Commanders be new and improved? Let’s take a look.

In the past four seasons, Washington has started 10 quarterbacks, including the forgettable Garrett Gilbert, Josh Johnson and Mark Sanchez. The Commanders traded for Wentz to stop this revolving door at the game’s most important position.

Wentz is a strong-armed thrower who was an All-Pro five years ago. Since then, he has had his ups and downs. Two teams — the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts — gave up and traded him. Still, he should be an improvement on last year’s starter, Taylor Heinicke.

Wentz will have some talent around him. The Commanders have three exciting wide receivers in Terry McLaurin, speedy Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson. It would also help if tight end Logan Thomas gets healthy.

Washington has talent at running back too. Antonio Gibson is a threat to break away for big plays if he can stop fumbling. Sadly, impressive rookie Brian Robinson is out for a while after he was wounded in what appears to be an attempted robbery.

A big question is whether the Commanders’ revamped offensive line will block well enough to give Wentz time to find his receivers. Wentz tends to hold on to the ball too long. In 2020, he was sacked (tackled behind the line of scrimmage) 50 times in just 12 games.

The key to a possible winning season may not be the offense but the defense. Last year, Washington’s defense slipped from being the second best of 32 NFL teams at giving up yards (304.6 yards per game) in 2020 to the 22nd best (359.3 yards).

It won’t help that defensive end Chase Young will be on the sidelines with a knee injury for at least the first four games. The Commanders need to put pressure on their opponent’s passer because the team’s linebackers and defensive backs can be shaky.

The team’s secret for success may be its schedule. Based on their opponents’ 2021 records, the Commanders should have the easiest schedule of any NFL team.

With a little luck and if they avoid injuries, the Commanders should squeeze out a winning season.

That would be something new.

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