The Washington Commanders currently hold the NFC’s final playoff spot despite not winning a game since Nov. 27 over the Atlanta Falcons. Since that game, Washington has tied and lost to the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.
Can the Commanders get back on track and earn their second playoff bid in three seasons under head coach Ron Rivera?
A big problem for Washington has been an offense that was moving the ball well but struggling to finish drives. Another problem was the turnovers. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s turnovers over the last two games all ended in points for the opposition and essentially cost Heinicke his job.
Earlier this week, Rivera went back to Carson Wentz. Will it matter? There are certainly things that Wentz can do that Heinicke cannot. However, Wentz is no stranger to negative plays, either. For Rivera, this decision was about Wentz’s ceiling potentially improving Washington’s passing offense. When Wentz played earlier this season, he didn’t have a healthy Brian Robinson Jr. in the backfield. Now, Robinson is running as well as any back in the NFL, taking some pressure off Washington’s quarterbacks.
With two games left in the season, Rivera understands the importance of these final two weeks for multiple reasons.
“Huge,” Rivera said. “I mean, it’s an opportunity for us to continue to evaluate. I mean, these are pressure situations, like you guys said, and this is where we’re gonna find out. I mean, are we gonna rise up? Are we gonna have some issues? Are we all gonna be able to sit here and say, ‘Hey man, this is what we did? This is how we did it the right way.’ Or are we gonna sit there and look and say, ‘okay, a little concerned maybe the immaturity got him.’ That’s under pressure. So, this is a hell of a measuring stick for us. It really is.”
Yes, Rivera will learn a lot about his players, but the mission over the next two weeks is clear: Make the playoffs or this season is a failure.
Undoubtedly, Rivera would have preferred Washington was at least one of those previous three games to ease some of the pressure over these final two weeks. But this is Washington, of course; it’s coming down to the wire.