Commanders 2023 coaching grades: Eric Bieniemy and the offensive staff

It's time to assess the Commanders coaching staff...

Eric Bieniemy
Eric Bieniemy / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Travelle Wharton - Commanders OL coach

Travelle Wharton was one of the five new position coaches, but he certainly was not new to the Washington Commanders. He came in with Ron Rivera and served as John Matsko’s assistant since 2020. As such, he had a solid reputation as a good young coach.

He helped Matsko cobble together an offensive line in 2020 made up of veterans and castoffs. That line played a big role in taking Washington into the playoffs. But there were troubling signs.

Under Matsko, the Commanders struggled to develop young talent. Only Sam Cosmi turned into a reliable starter, and he did not do it at the position he was intended to play.

Matsko was 72 years old when Rivera released him. The hope was that perhaps a younger coach like Wharton would have more success with younger players. For some never-announced reason, he was not officially promoted from assistant until shortly before the season. That may not mean anything, but I’m wondering if the Commanders may have had their eye on a different offensive line coach - perhaps one of Eric Bieniemy’s colleagues from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Regardless, Washington’s line has been a major weak spot this season. They have given up a record number of sacks and have had little success running inside. Part of this can be blamed on the players, and part on the Bieniemy’s pass-happy schemes. But when the interior of the line routinely fails to pick up stunts, some blame has to fall on the coach.

In short, Wharton may still turn out to be a first-rate coach, but he has done nothing in 2023 to show it.