Last month, the Washington Commanders assumed their designated position on the NFL’s porcelain throne, and are henceforth known as the Washington Commodes (they are playing like ass). The stench has intensified since then. Losing to the Detroit Lions in Week 2 set off an avalanche. Now trapped under a 1-4 record and with oxygen running out, Ron Rivera felt compelled to throw his quarterback under the team bus by blaming him for the Commanders’ woes in 2022.
On Monday, a reporter asked Rivera what the difference was between the Commies…errr, Commodes, and the remainder of the NFC East’s 4-1 squads. Without hesitation, Rivera callously dropped a dye pack in Carson Wentz’s bag and set him up to take the fall.
“The truth is that this is a quarterback-driven league,” Rivera said. “And if you look at the teams that have been able to sustain success, they’ve been able to build it around a specific quarterback.”
As satisfying as it may be to pile onto Wentz, it’s a cop-out. Rivera’s answer was a continuation of the Carson Wentz scapegoat industry. Wentz has only dressed in a Washington uniform for five games and already he’s the representation of everything wrong with the organization. Meanwhile, Rivera has won fewer than 40 percent of his 41 games as coach of the Washington Football Team/Commanders.
That doesn’t let the front office off scot-free. Since Rivera was hired, here are the names he has deployed as starting quarterbacks since 2020: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Alex Smith, Dwyane Haskins, and Kyle Allen. The front office hired Rivera and then refused to provide him with a franchise signal caller.
The Commies drafted Chase Young over Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert to placate their defense-first head coach and haven’t shown a contingency plan for how to address that vacancy since. As a consequence, Washington has inadvertently mimicked the Panthers and Colts’ doomed reliance on stop-gap veteran contractors to paper over a subpar offense instead of drafting and developing a coveted rookie. Every time Carson Wentz drops back you can hear the revolver chamber spinning for a round of Russian roulette.
If the quarterback position is such a dilemma for Rivera’s Commies, the coach should be permanently benching Wentz ASAP. Rookie Sam Howell won’t win many games either in 2022, but he was promising in the preseason and at least Washington could know what they have in him while he’s playing to keep the Commanders out of C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young’s reach. Instead, they’re kicking the can down the road again as Rivera’s self-preservation skills kick in.
He is coaching for his job and attempting to win games, not secure draft positioning. He’s oblivious to the role he plays in the Commanders’ situation. Even Washington’s defense has been a spongy mess. Rivera was hired for his defensive expertise. Yet, with a litany of talented personnel on the defensive side, Washington has regressed every year since Rivera’s debut season.
Through five games, the Commies are eighth in points allowed, 29th in pass defense DVOA, and are allowing 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Offensively, the Commanders have averaged 12 points over their last three games. Wentz is an easy scapegoat, but he and his crippling interceptions are a symptom, not the disease.
The Giants are winning with Daniel Jones in a zero-WR offense. The Eagles are getting creative in their use of Jalen Hurts, whom many skeptically looked at as a true QB1. The Cowboys have won four straight with Cooper Rush executing picturesque handoffs. Rivera trying to pinpoint who to blame was akin to watching O.J. promise to find his ex-wife’s killer. The mirror is his friend.