The curse of mediocrity continues to plague the Washington Commanders. Just when we thought the outcome of the season was about to be locked in last year after the team fell to 2-6, they rattled off four straight wins to get back into the playoff hunt, only to stumble down the stretch due to injuries and a COVID-19 breakout.
End result: No Playoffs, No top 10 Pick. Somehow, it feels like this season, in spite of all the changes and volatility since 2021, is following about the same script. Coming off back-to-back wins over bad teams, the Commanders now find themselves quasi-relevant in the playoff picture getting ready to face an eminently beatable Colts team starting a redshirt rookie at QB with zero regular season pass attempts under his belt. With a win, Washington would be 4-4 and impossible to relegate to irrelevance for at least another 3-4 weeks.
While realistic fans know this isn’t a squad primed for a playoff run, optimism for some meaningful football in January is not unwarranted. So, here we are again, staring down the barrel of another 7, 8, or 9-win season and a pick in the low teens of the upcoming draft…mediocrity has not only been Washington’s curse…it’s been their ceiling during Daniel Snyder’s tenure as owner.
But the storylines are particularly juicy this week in spite of the low ceiling on this season. Washington will be facing the Colts’ version of Taylor Heinicke in Sam Ehlinger. The Colts’ owner is the hero of every true Washington fan, at the moment, as he’s apparently leading the charge to oust the Snyders, and between Ron Rivera and Frank Reich, you have two head coaches with extremely strong reputations around the NFL whose results really don’t match their reputations…both of whom are likely starting to feel some heat from their controversial team owners….at least it’s not boring covering this team…
Despite all the drama, a football game will be played on Sunday and largely be decided by the players and coaches on the field…so let’s take a look at some key Reality Checks for Sunday’s Commanders vs. Colts tilt.
5 Commanders reality checks for Week 8 vs the Colts
5. The Reality Is, Heinicke has to play more consistently.
Anyone expecting Heinicke to suddenly become the second coming of Drew Brees is dreaming. He’s not the most consistent or accurate quarterback. But the second half against Green Bay gave us all a reminder of what he can do when he feels comfortable within the flow of a game. While it’s unreasonable to expect 4 quarters of that level of play every week, it’s not unreasonable to say that the Commanders need more consistency out of Heinicke if they’re going to be competitive week in and week out.
Last week, Heinicke’s start nearly doomed the team…and would have against almost any other team, on any other day, in the league. The fact that Green Bay couldn’t capitalize on Heinicke’s horrendous start was a gift, one Washington cannot expect to get again. Heinicke doesn’t have to play at an all-pro level…but he can’t have five turnover-worthy plays in the first half against Indianapolis and still win. Period. Look for a more steady game from Heinicke after getting a second week straight of 1st team reps.