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Washington Commanders players blame struggles on coaching

Washington Commanders
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Washington Commanders are set to finish their season scoring fewer points than the year before for the second consecutive year. They also have missed the postseason for the second year in a row after last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, where head coach Ron Rivera wasn’t even aware his team could be eliminated.

Yet, to his credit, Rivera, whose specialty is on the defensive side of the ball, has a defense ranked 14th in the NFL in points allowed. It’s the offense that’s been a much bigger problem, entering Week 18 ranked 25th, scoring just 18.4 points per game.

But players within the organization insist it’s not on them. Instead, they’re pointing the blame at the coaching and the offensive play-calling in particular.

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Washington Commanders players put Scott Turner on blast

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With the three other teams in the NFC East already clinching a playoff spot, only the Commanders are left eliminated from the picture entering Week 18.

Earlier in the season, Rivera was caught being brutally honest about why his team was a step behind his division rivals. Rivera was asked to share the difference between his NFC East competitors and the Commanders. He simply responded, “Quarterback.”

We now have several players of the team strongly stating the problem actually lies with offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who’s in his third season calling plays for Rivera’s offense. Turner joined Rivera in Washington after the two spent four previous seasons working together in Carolina. But it’s clear several members of the team feel it’s time for Turner to go.

According to Sam Fortier of The Washington Post, players didn’t hesitate to voice their opinion about why the team managed to score just 10 points in their latest loss to Cleveland last Sunday.

One unnamed veteran said, “Ask the play-caller.”

Nine-year pro Logan Thomas took things a step further.

“The way I put it is: We got so much talent, we should be scoring more points than we have [been].”

Washington Commanders starting tight end Logan Thomas

In all, the Post was able to get nine other Commanders players who proceeded to rip the team’s play-calling, noting how predictable the offense was and even that the coaching staff ditched the original game plan.

Others noted how Turner frequently “outsmarts” himself and refuses to take advantage of the plays they find success with. While no one will argue the Commanders’ offense doesn’t need to make changes, many within the organization seem to feel the biggest issue is with the play-caller.

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Even rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. has admitted to being upset about the team’s play-calling at times.

“I just got to play; I can’t coach. Even when I do get frustrated about play-calling, that’s not my job, so, regardless of how I feel during the game over certain plays, I just got to be where my feet are.”

Washington Commanders’ Brian Robinson adding to the pile

And he’s not the only key member of the offense who hasn’t agreed with the team’s direction. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who has started 25 games, going 12-11-1 since 2021, wondered if his coordinator was placing him in a favorable situation at times.

“Some of the plays that we had called there at the end, they’re tough plays to beat cover-two with,” said Heinicke.

Another unnamed player wondered if Turner was “doing everything” he could to “elevate this group” of talent. One anonymous player even felt bad for Carson Wentz, saying, “I don’t think we knew how to utilize him.”

In an offseason that’s sure to feature plenty of change in Washington, the Commanders will have some tough decisions to make. Whether that means moving on from Rivera remains to be seen, but if there’s one thing many players seem to want, it’s a new offensive coordinator or at least a different play-caller. We’ll see if they get their wish.

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