Commanders Pulled Out An Ugly Win
In a week when all of the spotlight was on Ron Rivera, Jack Del Rio, and the struggling defense, the Commanders pulled out an ugly win thanks to Sam Howell and three second half turnovers by Desmond Ridder. Yes the defense showed up in the turnover department. Huge plays by Benjamin St-Juste and Jamin Davis helped cap off a road victory where the Commanders were more than doubled up in yards 402 to 193. Poor clock management and frankly rookie level mistakes by Ridder were the difference in a game that featured two teams that probably should be 3-3 based on what we have seen from them this season.
The good news from this game is that Sam Howell is continuing to look like a QB that this organization can build around. Another three touchdown passes get Howell to nine total on the year. He is still taking too many sacks, another five on Sunday, but he outplayed Ridder who was drafted ahead of him in the 2022 draft.
The bad news from this game was the defense. Despite the turnovers they looked like a leaky sink that couldn’t get stops in the secondary until Ridder started making his own mistakes in clock management. St-Juste’s interception came on a rushed play and terrible throw by Ridder in the end zone. TV cameras immediately showed the slow motion reaction of head coach Arthur Smith and it looked like someone told him the vending machine was all out of peanut M&Ms.
Jamin Davis made a great play on the ball to seal the game, but it came after the Falcons had to take a timeout after they spiked the ball to stop the clock because Ridder couldn’t get the ball snapped in time. Jamin was lined up across from Bijan Robinson, and I know every Commanders fan watching was screaming “NO!” as they watched Bijan motion out wide and the linebacker follow him, but credit to Jamin who made the play and won the game with the INT.
I’m happy with the win, but this team needs to start playing better if they are going to be in meaningful games after thanksgiving. I would say this week seven matchup with the 1-5 New York Giants is one of the most important of the Rivera era in Washington. You cannot lose to a 0-4 team and a 1-5 team in a three week span if you want to make the playoffs. The Giant haven’t scored a touchdown in 12 straight quarters and despite playing the Bills tough on Sunday Night Football, they are a team that is beatable and Washington needs to show the fanbase that they are capable of winning games against inferior opponents.
Rivera put up a sign in the locker room this past week that said “Do You Job,” a moniker passed around the league over the years to try to push the team to do what they are supposed to do on every play and the results will show themselves. The fact that it has taken four years for this message to get sent is concerning and a big reason why I think 3-3 is the best start Rivera has ever had in Washington. This team needs to show up on Sunday and force Daniel Jones or Tyrod Taylor to make mistakes and let Sam Howell continue his rise. With the Eagles rematch on the horizon, this is no time for a letdown.