If you’re looking for positives from this one, you came to the wrong place. The Commanders were sacked nine times, had five turnovers, including four Sam Howell interceptions and the defense did not sack Bills quarterback Josh Allen one time in 32 dropbacks.
Football is indeed a team sport, and Washington’s loss on Sunday was a team loss. Plenty of blame to go around for the Commanders.
Now it’s time for our weekly edition of studs and duds, but this one will be a bit different. There’s only one stud this week — and we were being generous.
Stud: RB Brian Robinson Jr.
There wasn’t much to like about the Commanders’ performance against the Bills. The lone bright spot was Brian Robinson Jr. Just like last week, Robinson was decisive, broke tackles and picked up multiple long runs. The only downside was he had just 10 carries. You can see Robinson looks healthy this year, something he never really had the opportunity to be as a rookie. He should be more involved moving forward for multiple reasons.
Dud: QB Sam Howell
Howell was dreadful on Sunday. He took too many sacks — again — and he had four turnovers. It was bound to eventually happen, being it was his fourth NFL start. Howell was under duress throughout the game; some of it was his own indecisiveness and other times, it was an offensive line issue. All four of his four interceptions were bad decisions. He was hit on one, impacting the throw, but it was still the wrong decision. It was certainly a day to forget for Howell. How he responds will go a long way in the Commanders knowing what they have in the young quarterback.
Dud: HC Ron Rivera
Rivera said Sunday’s game was a measuring stick game for his 2-0 Commanders. He said something similar two years ago, the last time Washington played Buffalo. They lost by 22 points last time. This time, it was much worse. Here’s what Rivera said last week about Sunday’s game vs. the Bills.
“This is one of the elite teams,” he said, per Sam Fortier of The Washington Post. “We’ve got to gear up. We’ve got to practice, prepare, get ourselves ready to go. [This game will] give us a great opportunity to see where we stand.”
How many times has Rivera, in his four seasons, discussed the importance of a game, and his team falls flat? It’s happened far too many times. Yes, the Bills are an elite team, but the Commanders didn’t look like they belonged on the same field as Buffalo.
As for Sunday’s game, Rivera should know where the Commanders stand. They have a long way to go.
Dud: OC Eric Bieniemy
It’s amazing how everyone wants to criticize the Commanders but give offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy a pass. Are we watching a different game? Bieniemy has done some good things in his short tenure with Washington, but Sunday was ugly.
If you know you’re struggling to protect the young QB, then why not do things to help him? Robinson averaged seven yards per rush and had 10 attempts. There were too many downfield throws in the game plan when it was clear Howell either wasn’t protected or couldn’t protect himself. Scott Turner would have been ripped across social media, and rightfully so. The same applies to Bieniemy. No, I am not saying Turner was better, but what I am saying is that Bieniemy needs to be better, and he’d probably acknowledge that. Sunday’s effort was a collective failure from all involved.
I love Bieniemy’s mindset of wanting to attack downfield, but he’s got to remember he doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes or a standout offensive line. He’s still developing a young quarterback.
RT Andrew Wylie
Right tackle Andrew Wylie continues to be a weak link on Washington’s offensive line. Wylie allowed multiple pressures in Sunday’s game. Sometimes, the edge defender is around him before he even gets a hand on him. While Wylie was good in the playoffs at right tackle, everyone believed he was better at guard. Washington paid him to be a tackle. That’s where he’s needed at this point. As of now, going to longtime backup Cornelius Lucas may be the right move.
Dud: Defensive line
Josh Allen dropped back to pass 32 times. Washington did not sack him once. Not only that, the Commanders only hit Allen one time. How many times did Washington’s defensive line make Allen come off his spot? Far too often, we debate which defensive linemen Washington should pay. The Commanders have already paid two of them, and they were the right moves.
But if you’re playing elite teams and your edge rushers are a non-factor, wouldn’t that give you pause? These guys need to come up huge in these types of games. That’s not a criticism; that’s just the truth. Montez Sweat and Chase Young are both free agents in 2024; both will be paid somewhere, likely one of them remains in Washington. When you’re playing the best teams, especially one where the offensive line was a question mark coming into the game, you need to do more.
The defensive line isn’t why the Commanders lost. They are on down the list. However, their lack of impact would have been more glaring if this game had been close. Remember, the game was still within reach to begin the fourth quarter.