5 takeaways from the Commanders’ preseason win over the Bengals

The Washington Commanders completed the preseason with an undefeated record after Saturday’s 21-19 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. It was Washington’s first undefeated preseason since 2013, and while it means nothing come Week 1, the positive vibes surrounding the franchise are real.

With the preseason over, the Commanders now turn their attention to Tuesday’s deadline to trim the roster to 53 players. From there, it’s all about Week 1 and the Arizona Cardinals.

Here are five takeaways from the final preseason game.

Jake Fromm making his case

Washington Commanders quarterback Jake Fromm (11). Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Commanders quarterback Jake Fromm (11). Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t much said when the Washington Commanders signed Jake Fromm to practice squad last October. After all, many remember Fromm during his brief stint playing for the Giants, which was disastrous. But, those New York teams were dreadful. There wasn’t a lot of talent and they were poorly coached. Still, no one thought much when Washington signed Fromm to a reserve/future contract in January.

This preseason, Fromm has been outstanding as the No. 3 quarterback. “But he’s going against backups and third-stringers,” say the critics. True, but he’s also playing with backups and third-stringers. Fromm looks completely comfortable in Eric Bieniemy’s offense. While we aren’t sure if he has done enough to make Washington consider keeping three quarterbacks, there is no way the Commanders don’t keep him on the practice squad. It’s doubtful another team claims him as most quarterback situations are already settled and the new practice squad rules make it easier to keep a third QB on the practice squad.

Fromm has went to an afterthought to a possible future longtime backup. And have you seen what veteran backup quarterbacks are paid these days?

The offensive line

Washington Commanders center <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Ricky Stromberg;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Ricky Stromberg</a> (53) prepares to block against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason started badly for Washington’s offensive line. However, since that opening half, the offensive line, from the starters to the players battling to make the roster, have played well. The past three games have given head coach Ron Rivera and his coaching staff a lot to think about when finalizing the 53-man roster. Charles Leno, Saahdiq Charles, Nick Gates, Sam Cosmi, Andrew Wylie, Cornelius Lucas, Chris Paul and Ricky Stromberg are all seemingly safe.

From there, will Washington keep nine or 10 offensive linemen? Will veteran center Tyler Larsen make the roster? Will impressive undrafted rookie guard Mason Brooks make the 53, or is he destined for the practice squad? Can veteran Trent Scott make the roster after signing a two-year deal in the offseason?

While a lot of attention will be focused on Tuesday’s 53-man roster, it will likely change some heading into Week 1 as Washington and the 31 other teams monitor which players are cut. All options should be on the table for the Commanders in their efforts to upgrade the offensive line.

Which wide receivers make it?

Washington Commanders wide receiver <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Mitchell Tinsley;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Mitchell Tinsley</a> (86). Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Commanders wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley (86). Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

We know Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson and Dyami Brown are making the final 53-man roster. Veteran Byron Pringle is likely the No. 5 receiver. That leaves Dax Milne, Kazmeir Allen, Marcus Kemp and Mitchell Tinsley fighting for what is likely one spot — perhaps two.

Allen had all the momentum heading into Saturday’s game. He struggled, though, dropping two passes on offense and muffing a punt inside the 10-yard line. That was the wrong time to have a bad performance. After the game, head coach Ron Rivera was complimentary of Allen. It’s doubtful one game changed how the Commanders view his playmaking ability. But it’s also possible that performance could keep Allen off the 53-man roster.

Meanwhile, Tinsley had an outstanding game, catching one touchdown and almost had another. Could Tinsley do enough on special teams to make the roster?

Milne had a drop and a catch in the first quarter. Coaches like Milne because he can play multiple spots, return punts and is reliable. He is not going to make big plays in the return game, but he catches the football, and that’s the most important thing.

We have a good battle brewing here.


Chris Rodriguez is going to surprise as a rookie

Washington Commanders running back <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chris Rodriguez Jr.;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chris Rodriguez Jr.</a> (23).
Washington Commanders running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (23).

Rookie running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. would’ve had a perfect preseason if not for a fumble last week. Rodriguez averaged over seven yards per attempt through the three preseason games. He runs hard, loves contact and sets up his blocks well. The Commanders have Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson in front of Rodriguez. But if one misses any time in 2023, Washington will not hesitate going to Rodriguez. He can play.

FedEx Field could be fun in 2023

The new energy surrounding the team was apparent in the two preseason games from FedEx Field. While there wasn’t a capacity crowd in either game — it’s the preseason, after all — the fans in attendance were loud. And as seen in the video above, Washington fans were having fun again. FedEx Field has been the butt of jokes since opening in 1997. Whether it’s the grass, the guardrails, the prices, parking, or literally anything else, FedEx Field has never been a home-field advantage for the Commanders.

Could things be different beginning next month? The more successful the team becomes, the more Washington fans will buy tickets, keeping some of the other teams’ fans out of FedEx Field. Commanders’ players and coaches feel the energy. They are excited about Washington fans filling up the stands and rooting for the home team again.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire