After suffering an elbow injury, the Washington Commanders must keep the big picture in mind and sit cornerback Emmanuel Forbes for their remaining games.
When the Washington Commanders selected Emmanuel Forbes at No. 16 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, he was seen as someone who could finally solve their struggles in the secondary. Nobody was expecting an All-Pro campaign right out of the gate, but the cornerback's ball-hawking skills in college hinted that a strong rookie season could be in the offing.
It was clear from early on that Forbes was going to go through some growing pains. The Commanders gave the former Mississippi State star responsibilities he wasn't ready for, which resulted in conceding big plays constantly when lined up against some of the league's most prolific wide receivers.
Commanders shouldn't risk Emmanuel Forbes any further
Ron Rivera decided to take Forbes out of the firing line for a brief period. He looked a lot better when re-installed onto the rotation, but a cruel injury blow struck in Week 11 just when it looked like the first-year-pro might be generating some momentum.
Forbes wasn't risked on a short week at the Dallas Cowboys. But Rivera admitted via USA Today Sports that the elbow complication seemed significant and the Commanders were waiting on further advice from the medical staff before taking additional measures.
"He did have a pretty significant injury there, and so we’ll see how he is and how treatments are going, and from there, we’ll decide, or the training staff and doctors will decide when’s the best opportunity to get him back on the football field."- Ron Rivera via USA Today Sports
The Commanders are playing for nothing but pride over their remaining five games. Rivera's about to oversee his fourth-straight losing season, so throwing the towel in on Forbes' rookie year represents the best solution for his long-term prospects.
If he goes out there in a meaningless contest and does more damage to the elbow, it's complete malpractice. Whether Rivera is around or not - which does seem unlikely based on growing reports he'll be removed at the end of the season - Forbes was a big investment by the Commanders and must be protected accordingly.
This decision is unlikely to go down well with Forbes, who is highly competitive and wants to be on the field. Even so, keeping the bigger picture in mind is of critical importance. If that means missing a few games that could resemble preseason fixtures down the stretch, so be it.
Washington isn't exactly setting the world alight at the cornerback position, Kendall Fuller aside. But one has to ask just how much difference a less than 100 percent Forbes would make in the face of such difficult opposition.
Sit him out. Let him learn. Ensure he gets the right treatment and is allowed to rehab at his own pace. That's the sensible approach.
Forbes could then get his body and mind right during the offseason before the time comes for OTAs. Of course, the Commanders are going to look a lot different by that point, so there will be new eyes to impress in pursuit of starting involvement in 2024.
All hope is not lost with Forbes. There's definitely enough talent to build off, but it's hard to look at his first season in Washington with anything other than disappointment.
Back to the drawing board, so to speak.