NFL Winners and Losers: Commanders need to change coaches, give Eric Bieniemy a shot

When the Washington Commanders hired Eric Bieniemy to run their offense, everyone knew what might happen if things went bad for the team this season.

Head coach Ron Rivera had yet to post a winning season with the Commanders heading into his fourth season. Washington had new ownership, and usually new ownership groups want their own coach. Bieniemy has been looking for a shot to be a head coach for a while. It wasn't happening with the Kansas City Chiefs but there was a scenario in which Rivera would get fired and Bieniemy would get promoted.

It's time for Washington to give Bieniemy his long-awaited chance the rest of the season. An utterly embarrassing 31-19 loss to the New York Giants should be it for Rivera in Washington. Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito, who looked miserable as an NFL quarterback before Sunday, carved up the Commanders on Sunday. He had three touchdown passes and no interceptions. It's not Rivera's fault the Commanders traded away pass rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young, but it's also looking like Rivera won't be back for his fifth season. Washington is 4-7 after the home loss to a Giants team that had just two wins before Sunday.

Like a team giving a rookie quarterback a shot so it can tell if it needs to draft another QB in the offseason, the Commanders have enough time to figure out if Bieniemy has any promise as a head coach.

Sunday's game wasn't great for Bieniemy's offense either, with way too many turnovers. The Commanders had a shot at the win but Howell threw a pick-six under pressure with 16 seconds left and that ended Washington's chances to pull out a win. That was one of six Commanders turnovers. But overall this season, Howell's development has been impressive. Howell led the NFL in passing yards before Sunday's games, and he had cut down on the sacks he'd taken as well as his turnovers. That reflected well on Bieniemy.

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera's team fell to 4-7 with a loss to the Giants. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera's team fell to 4-7 with a loss to the Giants. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

Bieniemy was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs but couldn't get a look as a head coach. It was viewed as an Andy Reid offense that was run by the incomparable Patrick Mahomes. Bieniemy needed to go a different route to get a head coaching shot. Going to Washington was risky, but also shrewd. Everyone knew that Rivera was on the hot seat. Bieniemy doing a good job running the offense but Washington being bad enough to potentially fire Rivera was a narrow runway to land on, but that's practically what has happened. Bieniemy has been an intriguing candidate for a while. Washington can give him an audition and not ruin its season — because it's already wrecked.

Maybe Bieniemy won't work out, but he has enough time left in the season to give Washington a clear idea of what he can be as a head coach. Rivera has had plenty of success as a head coach, but it's probably time for Washington to try something else. And it's time for Bieniemy to show what he can do.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 11 of the NFL season:


Brock Purdy: It’s getting clearer that when Purdy plays well, the San Francisco 49ers will be just about unbeatable.

Purdy was fantastic Sunday. He threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Purdy completed 21 of 25 passes and posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He had a heck of a day.

Purdy has been good most of the season but has had a few bad games. He had some terrible plays during the 49ers’ three-game losing streak. After the bye Purdy has gotten hot again and so have the 49ers. As long as Purdy keeps it up, the 49ers will look like the NFL’s most complete team.

Rejuvenated Buffalo Bills: The Bills needed a wake-up call. Maybe it wasn't fair that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey had to get fired for that message to be sent, but the Bills picked up on it.

The Bills looked as good as they have in many weeks in their first game after firing Dorsey, blowing out the New York Jets 32-6. That's the same Jets team that beat the Bills all the way back in Week 1. The Bills were so dominant, the Jets finally benched quarterback Zach Wilson.

The Bills offense might not be completely fixed, but there were some reasons for optimism. Buffalo is 6-5, and perhaps ready to get on a roll. It looked like a much better team on Sunday.

C.J. Stroud, despite his worst day: The most impressive thing about Stroud's rookie season before Sunday was that he never seemed to make mistakes. He had thrown only two interceptions.

The rookie mistakes finally came Sunday. But the Houston Texans overcame them.

Stroud threw three interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals. But he also threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns and the Texans won 21-16. Not great for Stroud's MVP argument, but good for the Texans' playoff chances.

The Texans are 6-4 after the win. They held on late after Stroud threw his third interception, but the Texans forced a turnover on downs in their own territory.

Stroud wasn't going to go through the whole season without a bad interception day. Having it come in a win takes away the sting.

Jordan Love: Maybe Love is working his way back into the Green Bay Packers' circle of trust.

Love looked bad early in the season, but he's rallying. He looked good in a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, one that might get Chargers head coach Brandon Staley closer to being fired. Love was excellent, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns.

The Packers owe a big assist to Chargers rookie receiver Quentin Johnston, a first-round disappointment to date who dropped a long catch that would have put Los Angeles in field-goal range in the final minutes. The Packers will take it. They were giving Love a chance to solidify himself in the team's future plans over the last half of the season, and Sunday was a good sign for him.

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 19: Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) just gets away a pass being tripped by Chicago Bears defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. (99) during the Detroit Lions versus the Chicago Bears game on Sunday November 19, 2023 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jared Goff: He didn't play well, but he did enough at the end to lead the Detroit Lions to a win. That's all anyone will remember from Sunday's game.

Goff threw three interceptions and it looked like the Lions would blow a home game to the Chicago Bears. But the Lions scored late, Justin Fields barely missed a deep third-down pass that would have put the game away and Goff led a game-winning drive in the final minute. The Lions added on a safety and won 31-26. Their chances of getting the No. 1 seed in the NFC are still alive, whereas a loss to the Bears would probably have ruined that dream.

It says something about the 2023 Lions that they can overcome a three-interception game from their quarterback. Goff will have to play better, but he played well enough in the fourth quarter to avoid a lot of criticism.

Antonio Pierce: The Las Vegas Raiders lost to the Miami Dolphins, but they were expected to be blown out. That didn't happen.

The Raiders (5-6) lost 20-13, and while it's not the result the Raiders wanted, it wasn't a bad day for their interim head coach. The Raiders have looked like a new team since Pierce took over for fired Josh McDaniels. The Raiders had plenty of chances to at least tie the Dolphins in the fourth quarter, but the offense with rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell couldn't get it done against one of the best teams in the NFL. It happens.

Pierce continues to look like a viable option as the permanent coach. The loss to the Dolphins (7-3) won't hurt his chances.

Seattle Seahawks place kicker Jason Myers (5) attempts a field goal to win the game during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Myers missed the field goal and the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks probably deserved better. Geno Smith missed parts of Sunday’s game, which the Seahawks seemed to have under control, with an elbow injury. With Smith out, the Los Angeles Rams rallied for a lead.

But the Seahawks had a shot at the end. Smith came back and led a late drive that got the Seahawks into field position in the final minute. They’ll regret a bad playcall during that drive. After DK Metcalf made a huge catch into Rams territory, the Seahawks could have spiked it and ran a pass play. Instead they ran it up the middle, essentially settling for a 55-yard field goal. Jason Myers is a good kicker but that’s a long attempt and he missed. The Rams held on for a 17-16 win.

The Seahawks couldn’t afford a loss like that as they try to keep up with the 49ers. It was an unlucky loss. But the Seahawks could have helped themselves with a better play before the field-goal attempt.

Will Levis: Hey, remember when Levis threw four touchdowns in his first start?

The Tennessee Titans committed to Levis being their starter not long after he threw four TDs in his debut, even when Ryan Tannehill was ready to return from an ankle injury. And that was the right call, to get the second-round rookie a long look. But it hasn't looked that good since Levis' first game.

Levis struggled for the third straight game and the Titans lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 34-14. Levis threw for two touchdowns but that came after the Jaguars opened up a big lead. Tennessee was shut out in the first half.

The Titans' season is going nowhere and there's no reason to go back to Tannehill. But the Titans (3-7) would like to see a little more from Levis before the season is done.

Frank Reich: The Carolina Panthers head coach took back the offensive playcalling duties this past week. When you do that, there aren't many people left to blame.

We know that Panthers owner David Tepper isn't patient, and it will be interesting to see if he gives Reich a second season. The Panthers fell to 1-9 with a 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The offense struggled again, this time with Reich calling it. Bryce Young threw a pick-six early in the fourth quarter to take away any uncertainty about the final outcome.

Maybe Tepper will understand that Reich took over a bad team with a rookie quarterback in Young, and he might not deserve to be one-and-done. But that's not his usual approach.

Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense: The Steelers have resisted making a change at offensive coordinator, where Matt Canada is the target of many unhappy fans. Those fans will be even louder after Sunday.

The Steelers were horrendous on offense and lost 13-10 to a Cleveland Browns team that also had trouble moving the ball with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. Cleveland put together one late drive and won on a field goal in the final seconds. Pickett had just 106 passing yards.

The Steelers were lucky to be 6-3 before Sunday's game. They had been outgained in every game. They have been finding ways to win but couldn't overcome a terrible offensive performance Sunday. That will lead to more questions about Canada and his job security, and it's not great for Pickett and his future either.