ESPN analyst Mike Clay predicted the Washington Commanders to be the NFL’s lowest-scoring team in 2023. He also ranked the Commanders No. 28 in his power rankings, noting how the team is a question mark until Sam Howell proves he’s a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.
We strongly disagree with Clay’s projection about Washington’s offense in 2023. There’s no way Sam Howell and Eric Bieniemy aren’t better than Carson Wentz/Taylor Heinicke and Scott Turner. However, it’s fair to question Howell, with only one NFL start on his resume.
Touchdown Wire released its Week 1 power rankings Monday, and it’s safe to say that Jarrett Bailey is much higher on the Commanders than others. Bailey ranks Washington at No. 16 in his power rankings, offering the following explanation.
I will continue to drive the Washington Commanders bandwagon from now until January, so get on before it’s too late. Sam Howell showed a lot of promise throughout the preseason, and the roster is quietly really deep. The defense was a top 10 unit in DVOA last season, and they won eight games with a combination of Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. That isn’t a high bar for Howell to clear. In an Eric Bieniemy offense with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, he’ll have a lot of help.
That is precisely what we’ve been saying about the Commanders all along. There’s a real belief that Howell can emerge into a quality quarterback. And, like Bailey noted and we’ve pointed out on several occasions, how hard will it be for Howell to be better than Wentz and Heinicke were last year?
If Washington’s defense can be close to the unit it was in 2022, the Commanders can be a playoff team.