Four weeks into the 2022 NFL season, and the Washington Commanders are already in last place in the NFC East by two games after a 25-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s a familiar feeling for Washington fans who hoped that year three of the Ron Rivera regime would have the franchise better positioned for success, but Sunday’s result highlighted many of the same miscues that continue to plague the franchise.
Let’s empty the notebook and discuss everything we know from Washington’s latest debacle.
Final score: Cowboys 25, Commanders 10
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore (96) and defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) celebrate a sack against the Washington Commanders during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Why the Commanders lost
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) rolls out against Dallas Cowboys safety Israel Mukuamu (24) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Where do we begin? Let’s see; the Commanders committed 11 penalties for over 100 yards. Every flag seemingly went against the Commanders. Most were legit, while the bigger issue was the lack of flags called against the Cowboys when some were obvious, including two potential pass interference penalties against wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Even if some of the penalties work out in Washington’s favor, I am still not sure the Commanders win this game. Carson Wentz was only sacked twice but was under pressure the entire game. Even if Wentz wasn’t under pressure, he’d create pressure because of his inability or refusal to either step up or slide in the pocket.
On Washington’s first three drives, all of which were somewhat promising, one penalty crushed the drive. A false start, holding penalty, and intentional grounding killed Washington’s first three drives and forced them into almost impossible 3rd and long situations.
It was over when....
Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) cannot catch a pass in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Wentz’s pass to McLaurin was broken up by Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs in the back corner of the end zone. It was 4th-and-15 with Washington trailing 22-10 and under 10 minutes left. A field goal would have done the Commanders no good. Better playcalling on earlier downs would have helped, but ultimately none of it mattered.
On the pass to McLaurin, Diggs’ arm hooked him before McLaurin made his break and slipped. Diggs got his hands on the ball, and it initially appeared to be a great individual effort. However, after further review, a penalty should have been called. Again, the Commanders still do not win this game, but this specific play ended any chance of them coming back.
Commanders' top performers
Washington Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson (1) and quarterback Carson Wentz (11) celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
WR Jahan Dotson: 3 receptions, 43 yards, touchdown
RB Antonio Gibson: 13 carries, 49 yards
RB J.D. McKissic: 8 carries, 40 yards, 3 receptions
DT Jonathan Allen: 8 tackles, 1 sack
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (10) passes against the Washington Commanders during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Carson Wentz appears as if he’s playing scared at this point. Even when he has time, he never sets feet and gets off an inaccurate throw. So many of his attempts are high, including short throws to the backs or tight ends.
What was Ron Rivera doing at the end of the first half? He calls a timeout when Dallas was inside the 10-yard line with under two minutes remaining, presumably to save time for his offense, which had just scored a touchdown. The Cowboys end up scoring a touchdown, and the Commanders get the ball back with over a minute remaining and two timeouts. Certainly, Washington is going to at least push the ball down the field in an attempt to score a field goal. Nope. Washington essentially gave up, and Wentz ended up throwing an interception on a deep throw to end the half.
For a coach who always talks about analytics, Rivera often fails with time management.
Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne had terrific games for Washington. The pair combined for 13 tackles at the defensive tackle position. Overall, Washington’s defense held Dallas to 279 total yards.
Scott Turner is Washington’s biggest coordinator problem — not Jack Del Rio. Everyone wants to focus on Del Rio because of his politics. Is he good? No. However, offensive coordinator Scott Turner is worse. After a strong Week 1, Turner shows he has no clue to adjust to another team adjusting to him.
Cornerback William Jackson III was called for two pass interference penalties. On one play, somehow, Jackson and fellow corner Kendall Fuller somehow ended up on the same receiver. That secondary is a mess. Jackson is another busted free-agent signing as he’s supposed to be the team’s top corner.
The Commanders picked off Cooper Rush twice. Somehow, on both, penalties were called and the turnovers were nullified. One was legit; one was questionable. The story of the day.
Washington ran for 101 yards in the first half and only 41 in the second half. Part of it was the Cowboys adjusted, and Turner had no answer. Antonio Gibson, Jonathan Williams and J.D. McKissic ran well.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) intercepts a pass intended for Washington Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson (1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dotson left the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and was replaced by Dyami Brown. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but hamstring injuries are tricky.
No other notable injuries were reported.
Derrick Henry (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Next up for the Commanders is the Tennessee Titans. Washington returns home to FedEx Field and has the unenviable task of trying to tackle Derrick Henry 20+ times next week. The Titans are 2-2 after Sunday’s win over the Colts.