Handing out Commanders’ 2022 end-of-season accolades

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 14: Brian Robinson Jr. #8 of the Washington Commanders celebrates against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 14, 2022 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 14: Brian Robinson Jr. #8 of the Washington Commanders celebrates against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 14, 2022 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

There are two ways to look at “meaningless” games when your team plays well. On the one hand, you have to admire the effort put forth when you know your season is over. On the other hand, how much does it really mean when you put forth that effort when the pressure of winning is gone. So the fact that the Washington Commanders played their best game of the 2022 season in their final playoff-meaningless game can be seen as a good or as – well – meaningless.

We’ll have time to digest this. Plenty of time unfortunately. We will be writing plenty about draft picks and free agents and coaching moves soon enough. Before we do, let’s give a handful of year-end accolades (and a couple of whatever the opposite of accolade is.)

BEST GAME: Monday night, November 14 in Philadelphia – Commanders 32 – Eagles 21

Washington trailed 14-7 after one quarter, then outscored Philly 25-7 the rest of the way. They forced four turnovers and dominated the game on the ground. Most impressively, this came against the last undefeated team in the NFL, and got Washington back .500 on the season.  If you want, you can choose the final Dallas game, because that is almost certainly the best game the Commanders played in 2022 (or 2023). In both cases, Washington avenged early season losses against two quality division rivals who had won handily in the first games. Now if the Commanders could just find a way to beat the Giants.

WORST GAME: Sunday afternoon, January 1 at home – Browns 24 – Commanders 10

The playoffs were on the line. Washington played its worst game of the year. We’ve said enough about it.

BEST PLAY: TIE Brian Robinson’s touchdown against Falcons and Terry McLaurin’s catch against Colts

I loved Brian Robinson’s touchdown against Atlanta because it showed us something we haven’t had in a long time. Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Taylor Heinicke completed a couple of deep passes to Terry McLaurin and Dyami Brown. Then, from the 14, Heinicke tossed a short swing pass to B Rob in the right flat. All Pro cornerback AJ Terrell and tackling machine linebacker Mykal Walker stood between him and the end zone. Didn’t matter. He ran over Terrell and through Walker and into the end zone. And it became clear that Washington has its best pure runner since Adrian Peterson.

What can you say about Terry’s catch against the Colts? It wasn’t a touchdown, and it wasn’t as good a throw as Heinicke’s bomb to Terry in the Packers game. The ball was under-thrown but Terry made the adjustment, then outjumped and outmuscled a pretty good corner in Stephon Gilmore to make the catch and set up Heinicke’s winning touchdown on the next play.

WORST PLAY: Carson Wentz’s interception against Tennessee

This was a season full of missed opportunities – bad throws, penalties, defensive breakdowns. John Ridgeway’s penalty on Minnesota late-game field goal prevented Washington from having time to pull that game out. But Wentz’s interception against the Titans hurt more. The game was there for the taking, and Washington could not find a way to get a couple of years in three straight plays. Washington’s goal line plays – especially those that did not involve Brian Robinson – were quite bad this year. On this play, Tennessee dropped eight players and there were no gaps. Still Wentz tried to force a ball into the very tight window, even though there was no pressure on him and he could have been more patient and waited for someone to flash open. He didn’t and Washington lost.

BEST MOMENTS: One on field and one off

Brian Robinson’s first carry of the season would have gone for 8 yards, but it was nullified by a penalty. So his first run as a pro was officially a rather bland two yards. Who cares. It capped a remarkable couple of months for the rookie, who recovered from two gunshot wounds in his leg in time to help revive the Commanders’ entire season.

Houston had not been able to move to ball against Washington in the first half of their game in November. But they started the second half with a good drive. As they moved inside the Red Zone, Davis Mills threw a short pass to star running back Dameon Pierce. Defensive tackled John Ridgeway bearhugged him from behind, and as Pierce struggled to break free, Ridgeway lifted him in the air – and power-bombed him into the turf. He drew a roughing penalty. I’m not applauding the penalty. I’m applauding two things that happened afterwards. First, Washington stopped Houston cold on three plays from the five, holding them to a field goal. Then, during the week, when the league announced Ridgeway’s inevitable fine, his more experienced teammates on the defensive line said they would all chip in to pay it. That says a lot about comradery.


ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Brian Robinson

You could make a case for Jahan Dotson, who scored a lot more touchdowns. But Robinson was the running game, and in the absence of consistent quarterback play, the Commanders relied on the running game.


Cole Turner was supposed to provide a downfield pass-catching threat from the tight end position. He was hurt early, and just never got going. Hopefully, he will emerge in his second season, but he will have to move ahead of UDFA Armani Rogers, who showed more in limited action than Turner did.


This was a train wreck. I suppose you could say Efe Obada and John Ridgeway provided some good depth along the defensive line, but that’s a stretch. Washington needed some quality contributions from free agents this season – and they did not get very much.


Last year, the Commanders had Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers at guard They replaced them with former Carolina Panthers Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner. It did not turn out well, and with center Chase Roullier’s health now a major concern, the Commanders are looking at having to completely rebuild the interior of the offensive line in 2023.


This designation usually goes to a player who returned from either injury or poor play in the previous season. That being the case, I can’t choose Robinson. And that allows me to point this out – the Washington Commanders did not have a single player who had what could be called a “comeback” season in 2022. That’s a problem.


Danny Johnson. Last year, this year, next year…. Until he decides to call it quits. They always doubt DJ. And he always shows up to prove them wrong. He is Washington’s best zone coverage defender, its surest tackling cornerback, and showed he could even play man-to-man this season when called on.


As tempted as I am to choose the winning machine Tyler Larsen, the Commanders 6-1-1 record with Larsen at starting center is a bit of a fluke. Washington offensive MVP is the player it has been the last two years – Terry McLaurin.



Jon Allen is Washington’s best defensive player. Due to their defensive line depth, he is not the most valuable. That might have been Cole Holcomb, but he played only seven games this season. The player whose absence hurt the most this year is safety Kam Curl. He has developed into one of the best all-around safeties in the league, able to play the run in the box and provide decent coverage in space. And he seems to keep the secondary organized. Darrick Forrest is a much better player when Curl is on the field.


This is a no-brainer. When they write the history of the Washington franchise – whatever name it may be going by – the ongoing trouble of owner Daniel Snyder, which it appears will force him to sell this off-season, is the only story from 2022 that will have long-lasting impact. It hasn’t happened yet, and none of us knows what future ownership may look like, but if he does in fact sell, it will be the biggest cause for celebration for Washington football fans since the return of Joe Gibbs.

So we’re left with this: The Washington Commanders found a way to finish at exactly .500 in a 17-game season. That’s some next-level mediocrity.  Good final game. Tough year. Laugh or cry about it for a couple of days, and then begin looking at next season. That’s the only thing you can do when you are a fan.