4 biggest remaining questions ahead of Commanders 2023 season opener

There are still some riddles for the Commanders to solve.

Terry McLaurin
Terry McLaurin / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Do the Commanders have enough interior DL depth?

The odd thing about this one is that just a few days ago, the interior line depth would have been a reference to the offensive side of the ball. And that is still an issue.

Hoever, with the events of the last few days, it is now more of a pressing issue on the Washington Commanders defense.

Backup defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis and Efe Obada - who lined up both inside and outside last year - have both been placed on injured/reserve. They will miss some time early on, but just how much has yet to be determined.

This leaves John Ridgeway and Abdullah Anderson as the team's only backup tackles. Benning Potoa’e is on the practice squad and could be called up if the Commanders see fit.

Ridgeway could be in for a big year, but he remains a raw talent. Abdullah is a reliable-if-unspectacular reserve. He has been on a different team each of his five years in the NFL.  Last year with the Atlanta Falcons was his best so far. But if he has to play more than about 25 percent of the defensive snaps at any point this season, that becomes a problem.

James Smith-Williams can line up inside in much the same way Obada did. But this would mainly happen on passing downs.

With new questions about starting defensive end Chase Young’s availability for the opener, Smith-Williams will almost certainly have a bigger role at his traditional defensive end position. Whether this provides the stability needed is another matter.

The bottom line is that until Mathis and Obada return to the lineup, the Commanders will be relying more heavily on starting defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. If either of them goes down, Washington is looking at a major problem.