3 pleasant surprises at the Commanders 2023 bye week

It hasn't been all bad...

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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What pleasant surprises have emerged from an otherwise underwhelming 2023 season for the Washington Commanders at their 2023 bye week?

After so much optimism before the season, it's been the same old story for the Washington Commanders. Ron Rivera's roster-building and coaching methods have come under increased scrutiny with another losing record already confirmed - something that will likely spell the end of his time with the franchise once their schedule concludes.

Despite their lackluster performances this season, it's still an exciting time when one examines the bigger picture. Josh Harris' ownership group has lofty ambitions to return Washington to prominence - starting with staffing changes and hiring the right people that fit the new way of thinking.

With a plethora of high-end draft picks and around $90 million in salary-cap space, there's an opportunity for the Commanders to turn this around quickly. Washington represents a sleeping giant ready to be awoken and things are going to look entirely different across the board by the time OTAs arrive - that's a guarantee.

It hasn't been all bad for the Commanders this season. With that topic in mind, here are three pleasant surprises at the 2023 bye week.

K.J. Henry's recent emergence

The positives are few and far between where the Washington Commanders are concerned right now. Slim pickings would be the best way to describe trying to find pleasant surprises for this particular article, but the recent emergence of rookie edge rusher K.J. Henry falls ever so slightly into this category.

Henry waited patiently for his chance earlier in the season as the Commanders brought him along gradually. The fifth-round selection was thrust into more responsibilities after Washington traded Chase Young and Montez Sweat before the deadline, which is a challenge he's relished.

The former Clemson star has 1.5 sacks and is making his presence felt against the run. Henry looks like someone who should be part of the team's plans under a new coaching regime. This is the biggest compliment one could give him after minimal involvement over the first half of 2023.