There's a fresh name and bold ambitions in 2022 for the Washington Commanders - the latest team to attempt a resurrection of quarterback Carson Wentz's career.
Wentz is expected to transform Washington's passing game under offensive coordinator Scott Turner's 'Air Coryell' system, which attacks the intermediate-to-deep parts of the football field.
The veteran QB has a howitzer of a right arm, but inconsistency has seen two teams give up on him in the past two seasons with the feeling he's now drinking in the last chance saloon.
Head coach Ron Rivera is bullish about their prospects but, although there is a deep supporting cast for Wentz on the offensive side of the ball, the Commanders' defense is talented but thin and already beset by injuries.
It's also a unit that performed the worst, by far, of any team in the NFL on third and fourth downs in 2021 so there is much to improve if Washington's team are to become contenders again.
|What:||NFL Season 2022/23|
|Where:||All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.|
|When:||September 8th 2022 - February 12th 2023|
|How to watch:||The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports, Channel 5 and Amazon Prime.|
BUF Bills +600, TB Buccaneers +700, KC Chiefs +1000, LA Rams +1000, GB Packers +1200
3rd NFC East (7-10)
Not only will the Commanders have one of the easiest schedules this season, but Washington's defense will face the fifth-easiest slate of offensive opponents.
So Rivera and his staff are confident going into in 2022, perhaps not least because the NFC East is not thought of as being the most competitive division in football.
Washington are +500 to overhaul the two teams that finished above them last year - the +140 Dallas Cowboys and +150 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Commanders' soft schedule sees them open up against the team that has posted the worst regular season record for the past two years - Jacksonville.
The Jaguars head to the nation's capital on Sunday September 11th to give Wentz a shot at redemption against the team that sent his Indianapolis Colts packing at the end of last season.
Jacksonville have played at FedEx Field three times in their history and lost all three times.
Unfortunately, Washington's former second overall draft pick and elite pass rusher Chase Young will miss the game as he is still recovering from an ACL tear sustained last November.
Jacksonville are +165 on the Money Line with the Commanders -185 to make it four home wins in a row and a seventh in a series they lead 6-1-0.
When are the Washington Commanders' key matchups?
Two games immediately stand out - the intra-division battles with the Eagles.
Wentz faces the team that drafted him and then gave up on him for the first time as a member of the Commanders in Week 3 at FedExField.
The quarterback's first return to the City of Brotherly Love has been earmarked for a Monday night prime-time matchup in mid-November.
Rivera is a former Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator who was hired to be the Carolina Panthers head coach in 2011.
There, he became the Panthers' all-time leader in wins and was twice named NFL Coach of the Year (in 2013 and 2015).
Carolina produced their best season in franchise history by finishing 15-1 in 2015 and reaching Super Bowl 50 where they were defeated by the Denver Broncos in a defensive battle.
Rivera was fired midway through the 2019 season due to new ownership wanting change and led Washington to the playoffs in his first season as head coach in 2020.
In Carolina, he was nicknamed 'Riverboat Ron' after his aggressive fourth-down decisions were said to show the instincts of a riverboat gambler.
QB Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts)
WR Alex Erickson (Carolina Panthers)
OG Andrew Norwell (Jacksonville Jaguars)
OG Trai Turner (Pittsburgh Steelers)
DE Efe Obada (Buffalo Bills)
CB Rachad Wildgoose (New York Jets)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
QB Kyle Allen (Houston Texans)
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
OG Brandon Scherff (Jacksonville Jaguars)
OG Ereck Flowers
DT Matt Ioannidis (Carolina Panthers)
DT Tim Settle (Buffalo Bills)
S Landon Collins
WR DeAndre Carter (Los Angeles Chargers)
|Defensive MVP||Jonathan Allen|
Jahan Dotson (1st Round)
McLaurin has quickly established himself as Washington's number one X-receiver and someone who can run practically every route.
He played every game of his third year in the NFL, catching 77 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns.
Only issues at quarterback prevented McLaurin from reaching 100 receptions and double-digit touchdowns, but he did tally over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season.
Young was primed to be the franchise's big star last year, but it never really happened and he got injured i mid-season, so Allen stepped up to lead the defensive line.
The defensive tackle's career-high nine sacks, despite often being double-teamed, earned him his first call up to the Pro Bowl.
There was also an incident when he punched teammate Daron Payne on the sideline during a blowout Monday Night Football loss to the Cowboys in Week 16.
Holcomb emerged as a vital member of the linebacking corps last year as he played every snap in 15 games.
He recorded 142 tackles - the tenth-most in the NFL - with one sack and two interceptions, including a pick-six against the Cowboys.