The Washington Commanders will embark on a new season in September and the roster is still taking shape. Each position will be fully scrutinized by the team and the players will do their best to earn a place on the roster this fall.
So much has happened this spring for the Washington Commanders. New free agents. Players not returning. New draftees. New undrafted free agents. Minor changes in the front office. A new position coach. The building of a roster for the 2022 season continues to unfold and the process will culminate later this summer with a collection of fifty-three players and fourteen practice squad members.
Welcome to our 2022 season preview of the Burgundy and Gold. For the next few weeks, we will provide you with a preview of the team by position. While it isn’t a roster prediction, this series will afford our loyal readers an opportunity to learn about the players in each unit. Every position will be thoroughly examined and the detailed analysis will allow everyone to have an overall unique insight into these players.
The first group that we will place under the Riggo’s Rag microscope today is the most important position on the team – the quarterbacks. Four players will be evaluated today and we will rank them accordingly – a practice that will continue with our look at each unit on offense, defense, and special teams. Let’s take a look at Washington’s signal callers.
Commanders 2022 Quarterback Preview
In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles executed a trade and selected North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in the first round. By his second season, Wentz was cruising to an incredible season and a likely berth in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Wentz suffered a devastating knee injury and his time in Philly suddenly became a short stay. After a one year endeavor with the Colts, Indianapolis traded him to the Commanders in March.
Wentz is the undisputed starting quarterback heading into training camp and the likely starter on day one. He is very talented and undeniably has his best wide receiver corps ever to work with this season. Number 11 also arguably has the best ever offensive line he has ever seen. Look for Wentz to regain some of his swagger and form from 2017 and retain the starting role all season.
Stat Prediction: 394-613 for 3,982 yards passing. 33 passing touchdowns, 4 rushing touchdowns. 9 interceptions, 2 fumbles lost. 124 yards rushing.
Taylor Heinicke was an unknown late in the 2020 season, but he was pressed into service after Washington won NFC East title. He would go mano a mano against Tampa Bay and Tom Brady in the first round of the playoffs. Heinicke and the Commanders gave Brady and the Buccaneers everything they had and took the eventual Super Bowl champion to the limit. Heinicke was suddenly a fan favorite.
He would go on to have a decent 2021 season, but his shortcomings were obvious and a trade for Wentz was made when free agency arrived several weeks ago. Heinicke will serve as the backup this season and he will be available if Wentz struggles or has an injury. However, there is a new and unexpected development.
Prediction: Heinicke will be called on if needed. He is the primary backup for now.
When the 2021 season ended, most analysts and fans knew that the quarterback position would be a priority for the offseason. The only question centered on which quarterback to draft. When the Washington Commanders made the unexpected trade for Wentz, it ended any chance of a quarterback being chosen in the first few rounds. Several of the top quarterback prospects were not chosen in the first and second rounds and Sam Howell slipped to the fifth round.
The Commanders were able to obtain the first pick in the fifth round through a couple of trades and couldn’t pass up the insane value with Howell still available. At this juncture, the former Tar Heel is third on the depth chart, but he will have a good opportunity to learn the playbook and observe the offense this season. Howell has a chance to be QB2 later in the season, but that is still very premature.
The Commanders signed undrafted free agent Cole Kelley immediately following the draft and he is currently QB4. At 6-7, 260, he is a towering and intriguing prospect. Don’t get your hopes up. Kelley is strictly a project and his upside is very limited. He may end up on the practice squad, but that is not a guarantee.
The quarterback corps could be the strongest it has been in a decade. It is certainly better than last year and the potential is there for improved play from the most important position in football. However – caveat emptor. This is a “prove it” year for Wentz and a learning year for Howell. Seven months from now, we could see the status quo or another major change.
Coming soon – we will take a look at the running backs as this series continues. See you as we go along.