Which Washington Commanders news stories are hitting the headlines as practice preparations begin for their Week 15 trip to the Los Angeles Rams?
Players get back down to business later today after their extended period of bye-week rest. The Washington Commanders have firmly turned their attention to Sunday's visit to the Los Angeles Rams, who still harbor hopes of playoff contention after performing above expectations this season.
The Commanders aren't playing for much other than pride, so it remains to be seen how much fight remains in this group of players. Until then, the stories causing conversation include Ron Rivera's post-bye expectations, Sam Howell's self-scouting, Jamin Davis' growth, and Washington being unchanged in ESPN's power rankings.
Let's delve into each topic in more detail.
Commanders unchanged in ESPN's power rankings
After relaxing on their bye week, the Washington Commanders position at No. 29 remained unaltered in ESPN's weekly power rankings. Most of the teams around them on the draft order won. This might be a good thing in terms of preparations under the new regime if you're into keeping the bigger picture in mind.
When discussing the biggest improvement this season, beat writer John Keim put a surprising nomination forward. He chose the pass protection - if you can believe that.
"Very little has improved in Washington -- the Commanders are 4-9 for a reason -- but the pass protection has at least stabilized. They allowed six sacks in the season opener vs. Arizona -- and 40 in the first seven games combined. But in the past six games Washington has allowed 18 as quarterback Sam Howell has handled the pressure better, more calls have been designed for quick releases and the line has done a better job. It could still be better, but it has improved. At one point Howell was on pace to be sacked an NFL-record 107 times; it's now at 75.8 -- the current record is 76."- John Keim, ESPN
While the sack numbers have gone down, the pressure has stayed constant upon further examination of the tape. Keim's choice is more a reflection of how torrid it's been elsewhere rather than the offensive line's growth.