The Washington Commanders offense showed in Weeks 1 and 2 that it can be explosive. The second half against the Lions alone showed that in spades. For two straight weeks, though, the offense has been plagued by incomprehensible slow starts and fans are rightly questioning Terry McLaurin’s limited impact.
In the last two games, the Commanders have been outscored 46-0 by halftime; trailing 22-0 to Detroit and 24-0 to Philadelphia. And yet, Washington seemingly showed zero urgency to get the ball in the hands of its best playmaker.
We’d be the first to admit that Curtis Samuel’s emergence has played a role in Mclaurin not getting peppered with targets early in games and it’s understandable why the Commanders want to get Samuel going early in games.
Who wouldn’t want to unleash that kind of weapon on a defense?
But what about McLaurin? For years fans have been begging the franchise to surround McLaurin with viable pass-catchers. But not at the expense of the former third-round pick being a focal part of the passing game.
Earlier this week, Scott Turner revealed he spoke to McLaurin to make sure the receiver knows he’s aware of his mystifying lack of volume.
Commanders OC Scott Turner knows Terry McLaurin needs to be more involved early in games.
"“We had some plays designed for him in the first half,” Turner said Wednesday. “And whether it was you know, them take taking away coverage or having some issues up front with protection. Obviously, he wasn’t able to get kind of what I talked about earlier with getting the ball out more quickly and plays where, you know, he’s getting the ball and you’re getting it out more quickly.“Just had a conversation about how, obviously how important he is to the offense. he tries to energize the group, and, you know, I just let him know it’s not lost on me that we didn’t get him the ball in the first half. That it’s not being overlooked, you know? And I think he already knew that, and I think he appreciated just having the conversation and he’s all in.”"
You can’t solve a problem if you don’t acknowledge there’s a problem to be solved, so it’s reassuring McLaurin’s puzzling lack of usage early in games isn’t lost on Turner. That said, the offensive coordinator better act on this admission. While extenuating factors can derail a game plan (like the Eagles unrelenting pass rush), Turner is more than equipped to design short passes to get players open.
And let’s be honest: it doesn’t take much to get a player like McLaurin open. The newly-minted $70 million receiver is an elite route-runner and it only helps that defenses have to contend with Samuel, Jahan Dotson and Logan Thomas.
McLaurin currently leads the Commanders with 235 receiving yards and his 19.6 yards per reception is second in the NFL behind the Ravens’ Rashod Bateman among receivers who have at least eight catches.
On Sunday against the Eagles, McLaurin caught six balls for 102 yards. Each of those stats suggest McLaurin is seeing more than enough volume.
In reality, though, one of McLaurin’s 12 catches this year have come before halftime. In Week 3, Terry’s first catch came with seven minutes left in the third quarter. In Week 2, his first reception came nearly two minutes into the third quarter. In Week 1, his first catch came on the first play of the second quarter.
Somehow, McLaurin has ZERO first quarter catches this year.
It would help if Washington’s offense collectively got off to better starts, but these stats are indefensible for Turner and the rest of the staff. The Cowboys and their league-leading 13 sacks await the Commanders, so Carson Wentz will almost certainly be under consistent pressure much like he was in Week 3.
Assuming adjustments were made in practice this week, getting McLaurin more involved early better be at or near the top of the list.