The Washington Commanders get to begin their year on Saturday, August 13, against the Carolina Panthers. While the results won’t count in the standings, as they’re of the preseason variety, many spectators will be following along closely.
There are several exciting factors fans are excited to see with the 2022 version of the Commanders. Here are three of the most interesting preseason storylines to watch over the next few weeks.
Is Carson Wentz the solution?
The Washington Commanders realized Taylor Heinicke wasn’t an ideal long-term solution, and he was never supposed to be. Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s hip subluxation ruined his season at halftime in Week 1 in 2021, throwing a massive wrench in the team’s plans.
Martin Mayhew, the general manager of the Commanders made sure to address the position this offseason, trading for Carson Wentz, but is he the answer to Washington’s QB woes?
Wentz has flashed MVP-level talent before, but it’s been a couple years since we’ve seen anything elite come off the former NDSU product’s hand. On his third team in three years, will he quickly wear out his welcome in a new city?
A hot start in his new digs can help Wentz become more endeared by the fans, which could go a long way toward building a long-term future instead of one that ultimately ends up with another team moving on from the former No. 2 overall pick.
Wentz will have a great deep threat with Terry McLaurin, but that’s not the only playmaker who could help the QB look good in 2022.
Seeing if Jahan Dotson is the real deal
One area the Commanders wanted to address this offseason, aside from QB, was adding to the pass-catching corps to make things easier on whoever would be under center. They did just that by selecting Penn State’s Jahan Dotson 16th overall in April’s NFL Draft.
By all appearances, Dotson’s adjusting well to the pro level, looking uncoverable at times in camp. Does that change with the pads on against other NFL competition? Fans hope not, but we’ll find out in preseason. If Dotson can burn NFL defenders in exhibition matchups, there’s no reason why he can’t be starting alongside McLaurin early on.
Putting the fear in your opponent
With Chase Young and Montez Sweat as the team’s top pass-rushers, the Commanders should have one of the best pressure rates in football in 2022. Anything short of a top-10 unit in sacks and pressures will be a letdown.
We’ve seen glimpses of this defense’s potential in the past, now it’s the time to translate that hype into success. Like the offense, Washington has several pieces on defense expected to step up.
Perhaps the most important area that needs to improve is the back end. If the front seven can create more pressure, it should reduce the burden on the secondary, which will need a boost after allowing teams to convert on 48.5% of third downs, the second-worst mark in the league a year ago.
How the defense begins to gel will be a talking point all year long, but the preseason gives us our first chance to analyze the roster after a long offseason. We can’t wait for the games to begin.