How did the Washington Commanders coaching staff on offense fare during a forgettable 2023 season for the franchise?
One of the stories that we probably should have paid more attention to this preseason was the turnover of the Washington Commanders coaching staff. Almost all of the attention went to new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. There was the common thought regarding head coach Ron Rivera that, with a new owner in place and a sub-.500 record over three seasons, he was coaching for his job.
I did write one piece about the new quarterbacks' coach, Tavita Pritchard, and what that might mean for Sam Howell. But I neglected to notice that four other position coaches were also going to be new to their roles this season.
Fans and media alike don’t pay nearly enough attention to the assistant coaches. But the players know. Heading into 2023, the Commanders had assembled a staff that included Rivera as the headman, four coordinators, nine position coaches, and eight assistants. There was also one special assistant.
That’s 22 men and one woman entrusted with getting the most out of the assembled roster. They would evaluate and motivate, teach, and game plan. They would do their best to put Commanders players in a position to win.
I don’t need to tell you, that did not work out very well. After going 8-8-1 in 2022, the Commanders staggered to a dismal 4-13 mark in 2023, finishing on an eight-game losing streak. They essentially gave up on being competitive after dealing two starting defensive linemen for draft picks at the trading deadline.
Our question today is how much of this meltdown can be blamed on the coaches. I go into this admitting that it can be very difficult for an outsider to judge position coaches in the NFL. They are layered beneath the head coach and coordinators, and they typically have little say in the drafting of prospects or signing of free agents.
Still, grades have to be given, so I’ll give some. Today, we’ll start with the offensive coaches led by Bieniemy.