Losing their remaining games has the scope to impact some significant offseason plans for progression where the Washington Commanders are concerned.
Ron Rivera will not be throwing in the towel despite having his fourth losing season in a row confirmed before the bye. The Washington Commanders head coach is a proud man. His fate beyond the 2023 campaign might be a foregone conclusion, but he's determined to leave with dignity and his head held high.
Just how much fight remains in the players is another matter. The benefits of losing out cannot be ignored, which would likely see their draft position increase in the hope of a quick turnaround under the pending new regime.
Commanders draft standing could rise by losing out
This was a topic brought up by Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated recently. Looking at Washington's schedule, the writer hinted four more losses might put the Commanders in a prominent position to select one of the top quarterback prospects - Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, to be precise.
"The Commanders end the season with games against the hot Rams and somewhat-hot Jets, then the 49ers and Cowboys. How possible is it, especially if Bailey Zappe continues playing well in New England and Kyler Murray continues to fend off the No. 1 pick in Arizona, that the Commanders wind up with a generational talent at quarterback?"- Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated
This would be a little harsh on current starting quarterback Sam Howell. It also doesn't change the fact passing on a generational left tackle prospect such as Olumyineu Fashanu would be extremely foolish given how torrid the protection's been throughout 2023.
That said, a new way of thinking comes with fresh ideas on how to take the franchise forward. If Williams or Maye are there for the taking, this could be the big splash Josh Harris' ownership group is looking for.
Fans are divided on the topic currently. In my opinion, fortifying the offensive line with a legitimate blindside presence who could fill the spot for a decade or more barring injury is the right way to go. This also allows the Commanders to get another look at Howell and see what the signal-caller might be able to accomplish with a more productive supporting cast.
The allure of drafting the latest potential franchise quarterback from the college ranks is always there. It's why the San Francisco 49ers gave up a king's ransom for Trey Lance before moving forward with seventh-rounder Brock Purdy. It's why the Carolina Panthers surged to No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft for Bryce Young - a move that has the franchise facing the embarrassment of handing the first pick in 2024 to the Chicago Bears.
Good quarterbacks come along every year. This is not going to be a quick fix for the Commanders. Solidifying the trenches and building from the inside out is the traditional route to long-term prosperity around the NFL.
Nothing should be off the table right now. This is almost a blank canvas for the Commanders with a bevy of draft picks and the opportunity to free up around $100 million in salary-cap space. If Howell's production tails off down the stretch and Washington finishes at 4-13, the chances of selecting a quarterback with their top-five pick become increasingly likely.
If the decision was mine, it's Fashanu. No matter what.