Will Week 18 be Scott Turner’s last game as the Commanders offensive coordinator?

It wouldn’t be the Washington Commanders if there weren’t leaks in January after another lost season. Once the Commanders were eliminated from postseason contention last week with a loss to the Cleveland Browns, the focus immediately turned to 2023.

A big reason for Washington’s absence from another postseason is its offensive struggles. Despite having an outstanding group of weapons at wide receiver and in the backfield, Washington’s offense ranks No. 20 in total offense and No. 25 in scoring offense, averaging only 18 points per game.

Two reasons for Washington’s issues this season are quarterback and offensive line. The quarterback position has long been a problem for Washington, and it took just seven games this season for the Commanders to realize Carson Wentz wasn’t the answer. On Sunday, rookie Sam Howell will be Washington’s third starting quarterback this season, following Wentz and Taylor Heinicke.

When Howell starts Sunday, he will be the eighth quarterback to start a game in head coach Ron Rivera’s three seasons.

The offensive line had been solid until this season. Injuries have played a part, but Rivera’s gamble on two older guards from his Carolina days didn’t pay off. In the offseason, Brandon Scherff left in free agency, and the Commanders released Ereck Flowers, replacing them with Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell.

Another problem for Washington in 2022 is its offensive coordinator. Scott Turner had plenty of excuses in his first two seasons, often earning praise despite glaring personnel deficiencies, specifically at quarterback. While the quarterback position remains a problem, Turner’s play-calling and game plans haven’t necessarily helped.

Speaking of those aforementioned leaks, the Washington Post released a report Saturday stating that Commanders players were frustrated with Turner’s play-calling. The report cited multiple examples of frustration with Turner. The most prominent being in Washington’s Week 14 loss to the Giants, where Turner abandoned the run despite running back Brian Robinson Jr. averaging over seven yards per attempt. The Giants had no answer for Robinson, yet Turner went away from the run.

Tight end Logan Thomas offered the following when asked if the play-calling put the players in position to succeed.

“The way I put it is: We got so much talent, we should be scoring more points than we have [been],” Thomas said.

The following excerpt highlights the level of frustration:

Nine other Commanders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about a coach, expressed frustration with the play-calling. They complained about predictability, an abandonment of the game plan against Cleveland and Turner’s tendency to deviate from plays that are working, which several players described as the coordinator “outsmarting” himself. They suggested Browns defenders had anticipated their plays in the loss that effectively ended the Commanders’ season.

Interestingly enough, the report comes two days after Turner was asked about his job security and offered this reply:

“I mean, that’s just part of this league, you know, it could happen, it could happen to anybody,” Turner said. “It’s happened to guys when they don’t expect it, it’s happened, you know, whatever. So I just do my job. I’m focused on the Cowboys. Whatever happens after this week, you go with it after that.

One day later, Rivera was asked about Turner’s performance this season:

“I think we’ve had our moments,” Rivera said. “I think there’s some really good things considering the availability of everybody. You know, it’s been tough.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

If you combine all of the above, it makes sense to wonder if Sunday is Turner’s last day with Washington.

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The Commanders are in a difficult position. Rivera’s job security would likely be in question if the franchise wasn’t involved in a potential sale. For Rivera, it could be hard to attract a quality candidate to replace Turner due to his own status and a possible new owner. But it sounds as if Washington’s players are ready for a change.

As for Turner, not everything is his fault. However, one complaint is Turner often didn’t cater a specific game plan to his quarterback’s strengths. Will Turner tailor his game plan to Howell’s strengths with his inexperience in mind for Washington’s Week 18 game vs. Dallas? And if he does, will it be too late?

 

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire