The Washington Commanders head into a Week 3 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in need of a win. Already sitting at 1-2 in the NFL standings, a loss on Sunday would sink this team’s playoff hopes even further. It adds to the pressure that lands squarely on the coaching staff and players right now.
Coaching is viewed as the primary concern for Washington. Through three games, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has made a far better case to be fired that to stick around. Assistant coaches are also under the microscope with several position groups struggling early in the season.
It comes as no surprise that Washington is the underdog in Week 4. The team is coming off its worst performance of the season and Dallas is riding a two-game winning streak. With another loss, the Commanders will be 1-3 with multiple losses to NFC East opponents early in the year.
Related: Washington Commanders schedule
Keeping all of that in mind, here are three players who must step up in Week 4.
Samuel Cosmi, right tackle
It’s no secret what went wrong for Washington in the Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz lived under duress last Sunday. facing pressure on 20 of his dropbacks and encountering eight quarterback hurries (Pro Football Focus). While part of the blame falls on Wentz’s shoulders, the offensive line also struggled.
|Samuel Cosmi game log||Pass Block Snaps||Pressures Allowed||Sacks Allowed|
Every player on the offensive line needs to step up, but our focus centers on Samuel Cosmi. A second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Cosmi remains inconsistent in pass protection. He held up very well against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions – two respectable defensive fronts – but everything fell apart in Week 3.
DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off a three-sack performance, bulldozing New York Giants rookie Evan Neal. Cosmi is a more polished player, but his woes in the first two seasons suggest he could be overmatched. If he is unable to contain Lawrence and Micah Parsons, this could be another long day for the Commanders’ offense.
William Jackson III, cornerback
Washington made William Jackson III one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL to be their No. 1 weapon in pass coverage. Thus far, the results from the former standout defensive back have been disappointing and it’s gotten worse early in the 2022 season.
Jackson allowed 31 receptions in 2021, surrendering a 58.5% completion rate and a 95.1 passer rating when quarterbacks targeted him (PFF). Early on this season, opponents are averaging a 152.1 passer rating when they go after Jackson III in coverage with 137 receiving yards allowed in two games.
He now faces CeeDee Lamb, one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in the NFL. As Lamb proved against the New York Giants, he is more than capable of creating separation and getting open for big plays. Jackson must step up in this matchup, otherwise, Lamb will have a 100-yard day and Dallas will cruise to a win.
Terry McLaurin, wide receiver
Signed to a three-year contract extension this summer, Terry McLaurin is off to an unusual start. While he leads the Washington Commanders in receiving yards (235), he ranks a distant second in targets (21) behind Curtis Samuel (30) and is just ahead of Jahan Dotson (18) and J.D. McKissic (19).
- Terry McLaurin stats vs Dallas Cowboys (2021): 40 receiving yards on nine targets in two games
McLaurin’s history vs Dallas wouldn’t suggest a 100-yard game is imminent. Often matched up against Trevon Diggs in 2021, the Commanders’ No. 1 receiver struggled to get open. It could be even harder this time around with the Cowboys’ pass rush more effective than before.
It means McLaurin needs to raise his game. One of the top 100 NFL players must become more than just a vertical threat who gets open 25-plus yards downfield. If he can only do that on Sunday, there might only be five chances for Wentz to even take a deep shot. So, McLaurin must get open underneath and along the sideline to become that immediate target when Wentz is facing pressure. If he can’t do that, Washington likely won’t have much of a chance in Week 4.