The Commanders preseason for their 2022 NFL season began at home against the Carolina Panthers Saturday afternoon. Washington played their starting players on both sides of the ball for the entire first quarter and some of the second quarter. Allowing for fans to get a first impression of what this years starting line up could look like.
Recap of Starting Units Performance
The Commanders preseason started off with them having the ball first. Which gave us the first look at Carson Wentz at quarterback for his new team. However, Wentz and the offense would take some time to find their rhythm.
The first drive for Washington would begin on their own 18-yard line. Though, the drive would not get much further than that. As the drive ended in a three and out. The second drive would have a little bit more action, as Washington was able to convert on a third and two to extend the drive. However, the drive would be short lived as Antonio Gibson fumbled on the following play.
Wentz’ best drive would come on his last series of the game. As he was able to find his groove and lead Washington on a 14 play 82-yard touchdown drive.
To start the drive he was able to hit Terry McLaurin on an out route that he turned into a 16-yard gain. While this was Wentz’ only completion to his star receiver. It was good to see the brewing connection that the two have with one another.
For the starting defense, early on they showed resemblances of last year’s struggling defense. As they didn’t have the type of start they had hoped for.
On their first series Carolina was able to have a 13-play drive for 58-yards, before Washington was finally able to get a stop and hold them to a field goal. Although, on the defenses’ second series they had a short field to work with after the offense turned the ball over. Which led to the Panthers first touchdown of the game.
After that Washington’s defense was able to stand strong and force a three and out on their last series of the game. And that pretty much wrapped up the day for the starting units for both offense and defense as Washington headed into halftime down 10-6.
Second Units Play Hero Ball
The remainder of the game was highlighted by the backups and fringe players fighting to make the 53-man roster. To start the second half Washington’s second unit struggled on both sides of the ball. The defense wasn’t able to come out and get an opening stop, and instead allowed Carolina to march down and score their second touchdown of the game.
The offense would go on struggle too, as rookie Sam Howell would take over for his first taste of NFL football. Unfortunately, Howell and the offense would struggle for the entirety of the third quarter, and weren’t able to garner any points.
However, the energy and momentum would swing into Washington’s favor. With Howell along with the running game coming alive . As Howell showed off his athletic ability scoring two touchdowns using his legs. Allowing them to take a late 21-20 lead after converting a 2-point conversion.
Unfortunately, this late rally by the Commanders would not result in a win. As the Panthers were able to get into field goal range after a set a crucial penalties on third down. They would then go on to kick the game winning field goal.
Next week they head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs for the second game of the Commanders preseason . Look forward to seeing Washington take another step towards being who they hope to be this season.
Here are some of the key players that stood out during the Commanders preseason game.
QB Carson Wentz
This was probably the best that Wentz could have hoped to perform in Week 1 of the preseason. As he played a very efficient game going 10 of 13 for 74 yards.
Wentz showed great command of the offense during his only scoring drive of the game. While also showing flashes of the brewing connection that he is developing with his weapons at receiver.
While Wentz only had three series on the field it was good to see him and the offense get good live reps against another opponent. Hopefully, he will be allowed more time on the field in the next Commanders preseason game against the Chiefs.
DE Montez Sweat
If there was one player that stood out on the defensive side of the ball it would have to be Montez Sweat. From the opening defensive series, he jumped out on the screen. As he was constantly getting in the backfield putting pressure on the quarterback, and was a force rushing off of the edge.
Although, Sweat’s activity didn’t add up to any numbers in the stat sheet. It was clear that his activity was impactful. As he was close to getting a sack a few times while out on the field.
With that, Sweat seemed like he was ready to go for Week 1 of the regular season already. If this is any indication of what is to come from him this season, look for Sweat to have a pro bowl caliber season.
RB Brian Robinson
In this year’s Draft Washington took Brian Robinson with the 34th overall pick. After a costly fumble by Antonio Gibson, the rookie from Alabama was thrusted into the game for his first bit of action. Upon getting into the game Robinson made an immediate impact in both the running and passing game. As his first carry went for five yards and then was able to make a nice gain on a sweet screen pass.
Robinson received the lion share of the carries during the Commanders scoring drive. As he showed his tough running ability. And also, his ability to run through tackles once he gets to the second level. He was rewarded for his tough running as he punched it in on third and goal for a one-yard touchdown.
Robinson finished off the game with six carries for 26-yards and one touchdown. During his time on the field he showed signs that he could take on the role of starting running back at some point during the season.
QB Sam Howell
For rookie Sam Howell it was a tale of two quarters for him as he played the entire second half of Saturday’s game. His first and only drive of the third quarter was stalled after a sack that set the offense back seven yards.
However, the tide would turn for Howell and the offense in the fourth quarter. As Howell was able to lead Washington on a 74-yard touchdown drive, that he capped off with a 17-yard run for touchdown. He would continue his good play on his final series of the game. Leading the go ahead scoring drive that he finished off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for touchdown.
Howell finished off the day throwing 9-for-16 for a total of 145 yard in the air and 19-yards on the ground. He showed the ability to make timely throws and his athletic ability to make plays with his feet. While also, showing his grit and fight after helping lead the charge for the Commanders fourth quarter comeback.
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Enjoyed this article, well written.
Such a good read! Loved the way that this author broke down the game! Felt like I was there!!