Austin Ekeler preaches significance of Commanders' culture shift

The veteran running back wants to leave a mark in 2024.
Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Ekeler was a high-profile arrival to the Washington Commanders this offseason. The veteran running back's time with the Los Angeles Chargers ended sourly, but there's enough left in the tank to suggest he can be a significant asset on the field and a leader within the locker room.

Ekeler chose the Commanders. He wanted somewhere with familiar faces - which running backs coach Anthony Lynn provides. He also wanted to join a franchise with an established young backfield presence. After demonstrating exceptional promise during his second season, Brian Robinson Jr. is exactly that.

The Commanders have enjoyed little success in recent years. There is nervous anticipation for the future under the new regime, but getting this historic franchise off its knees and back among the Super Bowl challengers is a huge challenge.

Austin Ekeler wants Commanders to focus on the future

According to Ekeler's comments via FOX Sports, this starts by establishing the correct culture. The former Western State Colorado standout is not interested in what happened during the previous campaign. He cares about what happens next season in pursuit of shifting the narrative.

"It's a whole new year. Right now, how can I get myself implemented into this team and also help create the standards, create the culture? What does the standard look like? How do you hold people accountable? To hold people accountable, you have to have a tangible thing that you can actually see, touch, feel, do. Let's make sure we establish those, so that's what we're doing right now. I don't care about what's happened in the past. … I wasn't here. … A lot of our guys that are here weren't here. … It's what we're going to do now. We have a chance to change the narrative now with what we have right here in this building."

Austin Ekeler via FOX Sports

This is the correct mindset. It's something everyone across the Commanders needs to adopt. Leave the past where it is and strive with everything they have for a brighter future.

Adam Peters did a good job of finding the right blend of youth and experience throughout his first recruitment period as general manager. He wants to build through the draft. But for this project the begin well, the front-office leader needed to find veterans capable of setting the tone for others to follow.

The likes of Ekeler, Bobby Wagner, Dante Fowler Jr., Zach Ertz, and Marcus Mariota will be integral to the team's ethos on and off the field. There's a chance everything doesn't go according to plan, but the Nebraska native believes the tools are in place for the Commanders to become a cohesive unit much sooner than anticipated.

Ekeler is looking to silence some doubters in 2024. The Chargers were reluctant to pay the player accordingly despite his exceptional performance levels. Those in power thought he had too much tread on the tires to warrant a lofty financial commitment. Having this extra source of motivation is only going to help the Commanders and new rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels.

After decades of misery and perennial underachievement, it's time for everyone associated with the Commanders to look forward with a sense of hope. Ekeler is demanding nothing less.