Scott Turner has a whole bunch of new toys to play with this season. That should translate into a more robust Washington Commanders offense.
Jahan Dotson and Cole Turner should help open up the passing attack. Brian Robinson will provide a bruising alternative in the backfield that should reduce the wear and tear on Antonio Gibson. Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner, and Chris Paul will join returning guard Wes Schweitzer to replace last year’s starters Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers.
All of the injured players – Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Logan Thomas, Chase Roullier, Sam Cosmi – are on track to return either by the beginning of the season or shortly thereafter. If most of them regain pre-injury form, the offense will look much better than it did in the second half of 2021.
And then, of course, there is the new quarterback room. Carson Wentz and Sam Howell should be a significant upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and – no one else who the coaching staff seemed to trust last year. Howell will overtake Heinicke – if he hasn’t done so already – leaving Heinicke as either a reasonable third option – or else trade bait. (Some people in Detroit are pushing for trade.)
I have confidence that Turner will figure all the new moving parts out and will come up with some good stuff for 2022, but in case he needs a little help, here are three (and a half) modest ideas to get the most out of the Washington Commanders offense.
3 creative ideas for Commanders OC Scott Turner
3. Cam Sims – Slot Receiver
Cam Sims is better than I thought he was. As he kicked around the practice squad a few years ago, I saw a big guy who couldn’t get separation. Decent hands and athletic enough to play special teams, but neither fast enough nor shifty enough to beat press coverage. My eyes were opened these past two seasons.
Sims is still not quick enough to beat a good corner. But he has one skill that I never would have predicted. He runs exceptionally well after the catch.
Putting him in the slot helps him get that separation. And unless the opposing defense has its corners travel, it also typically gives him a serious match-up advantage against what is likely to be the opponent’s smallest corner. 6’5” going against 5’10” should work.
Putting a big receiver in the slot is not a new idea, but it is still fairly rare. Traditionally, the slot is a smaller quicker guy, like Jameson Crowder or Steven Sims Jr, who have played the position for Washington in recent years. Bigger receivers often moved there later in their careers, when they had lost a step but still had the savvy to find holes underneath the coverage. Larry Fitzgerald extended his career for five years doing this.
More recently, Mike Evans has shown how a big slot can actually be a focal point of a potent offense. But one of the keys to Evans’ success in the slot has been the speed receivers – Chris Godwin, DeSean Jackson, Antonio Brown – who cleared out space, combined with a quarterback – Jameis Winston, Tom Brady – who could push the ball downfield to keep the defense from collapsing.
During Turner’s time at the helm of the Washington Commanders offense, he has not really had either of those things. With the exception of Terry McLaurin, no one has been a threat to the defense. That should change this season with more speed on the outside and two quarterbacks who will throw deep.
I expect Samuel and perhaps Dax Milne to see snaps out of the slot, but Washington should put Cam Sims there a half dozen times a game a get him the ball in space. Then watch out.