Commanders must avoid Sauce Gardner
Eric Bieniemy and Sam Howell don't need to indulge in any bravado. Just avoid targeting Sauce Gardner. The brash cornerback is too instinctive and athletically gifted to test without risking the kind of turnovers that have killed the Washington Commanders this season.
Even an offense as loaded as the Miami Dolphins declined to throw the ball in Gardner's direction. The skilled defensive back got no work on 27 coverage snaps in Week 15, according to "Cool Your Jets" podcast co-host Michael Nania.
If the Commanders are still tempted, they need the right plan to exploit Gardner in man coverage. The former Cincinnati star's gifts mean the New York Jets are usually comfortable trusting him in one-on-one matchups. Bieniemy should use bunch sets and crossing patterns to get him caught up in traffic.
It could lead to some big plays for after-the-catch specialists like Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson. Howell needs those big plays to ease doubts about his future after being sat down in favor of Jacoby Brissett against the Los Angeles Rams.
Scheming some big gains early will let the Commanders get Howell comfortable enough to give Trevor Siemian a mountain to climb.