5 plays that defined where it all went wrong for the Commanders in 2023

Things could have been different...

Logan Thomas
Logan Thomas / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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Commanders vs. Bears - Week 5

  • First quarter - 12:14

The Philadelphia Eagles game was a noble loss. The game against the Chicago Bears, just four days later, was a catastrophe on every level.

The Washington Commanders were a 5.5-point home favorite against the 0-4 Bears, who had to travel on short rest. Everything was primed for a bounce-back. It wasn’t to be. They came out flat and scarcely showed signs of life throughout a 40-20 beatdown.

It was all there in the first drive. Washington’s defense, despite giving up 30-plus points in three straight games, was still considered the strength of the team. Could we have been more wrong?

That first drive had it all. Washington stopped the Bears offense on first and second down twice, only to collapse on third and long. The first time, D.J. Moore ran right past Benjamin St-Juste, and the safety was late in helping. The wideout picked up 58 yards.

But Washington’s defense again stiffened. For two plays.

On third and 14 from the Commanders' 20-yard-line, Moore again abused the secondary. He ran right past Washington’s best cornerback, Kendall Fuller, and the safety was late in helping out again. He was open by at least three yards in the corner of the end zone. The Bears were up 7-0 less than three minutes in and would ride that confidence to an easy win.

Moore would continue to abuse the Commanders secondary all day. He had his way with Fuller and St-Juste, as well as with prized rookie - soon to be benched - Emmanuel Forbes. The safeties were rarely in the picture.

What made that touchdown play - and indeed the entire game - worse was Washington's lack of pressure on Justin Fields. Against four first-round draft picks, he had a clean pocket.

To be fair, Washington’s front four did get to Fields a lot during the game. They sacked him three times and knocked him down on nine occasions. They just never did it when it mattered. Like on third and long situations.