Reasons to be excited and concerned about the 2022 Commanders
By Jonathan Eig
September is here. Praise be to (insert your favorite deity, celebrity, or spirit animal here). After months of random speculation, Washington Commanders fans will no longer need to endure “PORPOSED TRADE BRINGS FORMER PRO BOWLER TO COMMS” or “SEE WHO STATGURUPOUGHKEEPSIE RATES AS DC’S 3RD BEST TE – the articles that have filled out feeds in the dead days since the draft. (Full disclosure – I’ve written a few of those myself.)
But now, at long last, we actually know the roster. We have seen the new guys in action. We have seen how the pieces might fit. We have a better sense of injuries. Sure, a lot will change once the season begins, but at least we are forming opinions based on observation, instead of on speculation.
So, here’s what I have observed so far. Here’s what I am most excited about, and what I am most concerned about as the Washington Commanders head into the 2022 season.
Special Teams – Concerned
I have been concerned about the special teams from the moment Washington allowed DeAndre Carter to walk. I can’t for the life of me understand why Washington would pass on him, only to bring in Alex Erickson at a savings of about $100,000. I am not too surprised Erickson didn’t stick, because Dax Milne seems capable of doing everything the vet could do, with a higher upside and cheaper price tag. But Carter provided professional kick and punt returning in 2021 – something the Washington Commanders haven’t had in many years. Some combination of Milne and another returner may be able to do that in 2022, but the remains to be seen.
Now you throw in Joey Slye’s inconsistent pre-season and I begin to get really worried.
Tres Way will be fine – again – and the addition of Percy Butler, along with players like Cam Sims, Jeremy Reaves, Milo Eifler, and Christian Holmes – should make the coverage teams respectable, but Washington’s special teams remain iffy. There has been a trend in the league over the past few years – amongst the better special teams – to kickoff high and short, and pin the offense inside the 20, but Washington seems content to simply let Slye kick through the end zone and give up the 25.
We’ll see if anything changes as the season progresses.
Secondary – Excited
Washington’s secondary has been on a long slow build toward respectability for several years now. It began with bringing Kendall Fuller back. Kam Curl’s emergence has been crucial. They have filled in with some other pieces. To be clear, a lot of the secondary’s effectiveness will depend on how good the pass rush is (more on that soon), but I am more optimistic about the talent in the secondary this season than I have been in recent years.
I am sad to see Danny Johnson go. I have always liked DJ. He is a tough, smart player. He may well be the best zone corner the team has had in recent years. But he is also a limited athlete, and the move from him to bigger, faster players like Homes and Benjamin St-Juste, hints at a more aggressive, man-oriented approach, which I think will ultimately suit this talent better.
The Washington Commanders only have four cornerbacks on the roster as of this writing, and that has some people concerned. Not me. The four they have are all talented. Several of the safeties — like Bobby McCain and Jeremy Reaves — have played corner when needed. And I have a feeling that Danny Johnson, or Corn Elder (and maybe both) will be back at some point to provide deeper depth.
I also think that Darrick Forrest might be an emerging star might be an emerging star, and that by next season, Forrest and Curl could form one of the best young safety tandems in the league.