Ranking the Commanders' defense and special teams against NFC rivals in 2023

Looking at how things stand for the Commanders on defense and special teams.

Montez Sweat
Montez Sweat / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders position groups vs. NFC East - S

1. Dallas Cowboys

In much the same way that the New York Giants have rebuilt their disastrous offensive line, the Dallas Cowboys overhauled their safety room so that a major weakness has become a strength. In Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse, and Malik Hooker, they have a very solid trio of young veterans who provide great flexibility and playmaking from the back end.

The Cowboys even have a talented young developmental player Markquese Bell waiting in the wings.

2. Washington Commanders

Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest may be the best young safety tandem in the league. I am a little worried about how Forrest performed when Curl missed some time last year, and I am a little worried that Percy Butler will never be as good an every-down player as his physical gifts would suggest.

But there will always be concerns about young players. With Jeremy Reaves and a couple of good developmental players on hand, the Washington Commanders' back end looks very secure.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps played almost 2,000 defensive snaps at safety for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. Both have moved on to other teams in 2023.

Terrell Edmunds arrives from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Sydney Brown came in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. They will join second-year player Reed Blankenship in attempting to fill the void.

All are good players, but how well and how quickly they blend will be important for the Eagles' defensive success.

4. New York Giants

I think Xavier McKinney is on track to become an upper-echelon safety. But I don’t think he will ever be as good as a lot of us thought he would be coming out of Alabama in 2020. And after him, the Giants have nothing but questions.

Julian Love, who played more than 1,000 snaps for New York in 2022 has moved on to the Seattle Seahawks and I don’t know who replaces him. What’s more, I don’t think the Giants know either.

They signed former Commanders defensive back Bobby McCain to provide veteran insurance, but they are hoping that a younger player emerges.