The Philadelphia Eagles are traveling to Landover, Maryland to face the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon. In order to preview this Week 8 NFC East matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Hogs Haven. The scintillating Scott Jennings kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming battle. Let’s take a look at the answers. [For my answers to questions about the Eagles, check out HH.]
1 - The Commanders haven’t looked great since nearly upsetting the Eagles in Week 4. What’s gone wrong?
They came out flat against the Bears and looked lifeless throughout the game. Ron Rivera’s seat was blazing hot after the loss and some of his comments during and after the game. Washington bounced back against the Falcons on the road, with Desmond Ridder throwing three picks, and Sam Howell throwing three touchdowns. The Giants game was another slap in the face result that exposed all of Washington’s issues. Sam Howell still holds the ball too long, the offensive line is average at best, Eric Bieniemy isn’t doing enough to help his young QB, the defense isn’t getting enough pressure and the secondary is still giving up big plays weekly. Ron Rivera has a disturbing pattern in Washington and this season is going according to his below-average plans.
2 - NFL trade rumors indicate that the Commanders could be sellers ahead of the deadline. Do you hope that’s the case and who all could be headed out the door?
Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and even Jacoby Brissett are getting trade buzz, but they’re not moving anybody until next week, if at all. Ron Rivera is very aware that he’s on the hot seat, and he doesn’t have much incentive to trade away players that could possibly help him save his job. Future picks aren’t getting the team to the playoffs this year, and that’s what he needs after another slow start to the season. Unless new owner Josh Harris steps in, it seems unlikely that any big moves are made.
3 - The Eric Bieniemy hire drew a lot of praise but the Commanders’ offense is worse than it was last year. To what extent is he to blame?
Eric Bieniemy is calling plays like he still has Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce to make magic together on the field. What he has is a young QB starting a full season for the first time, and an offensive line that was patched together again, this time they added one of the Chiefs weakest links from last season’s OL. Howell threw the ball 55 times in a row vs the Bears in a desperate attempt to get back in the game. EB joked that Andy Reid would like that, but that tendency to forget the run game is frustrating to watch from a former RB and RBs coach. Howell needs more designed runs, quick passes, and a solid running game as he works on improving his game this year. Bieniemy looked overwhelmed against Wink Martindale’s defense last week, and if he doesn’t adjust his playcalling this week, we could see a repeat.
4 - Who are Commanders fans realistically hoping to be their next head coach and quarterback?
There’s no consensus on the next head coach, and most fans want to see a GM hired that will shape the organization. We’ve already seen Josh Harris making some much-needed changes by hiring a senior analytics executive with a lot of previous NFL experience this week. Dan Snyder’s last attempt to fix the team was giving Ron Rivera full control with a figurehead GM (Martin Mayhew) hired later. Rivera came in with 3 previous winning seasons, but Snyder was desperate for someone like a former coach of the year to give his disastrous personal and professional decisions some cover. Rivera did his job off the field, and dealt with more than he expected when he signed up.
Nobody wants a repeat of that coach-centric organizational structure. A lot of people want a strong GM to come in, clean house, and hire a young, offensive-minded head coach. There are still fans expecting Eric Bieniemy to step in as the head coach if Rivera is fired in-season, and then take the job full-time next year. That doesn’t seem realistic unless Rivera is fired soon and Bieniemy turns the season around.
5 - What are some positive things you can say about the Commanders right now?
This season had the potential to be Rivera’s first winning season in Washington, but it’s not looking like he’s going to achieve that middling goal. This season was also always going to be a win because Dan Snyder sold the team. There have been some positives, but whoever is in charge next season will have a lot of work to do, and Washington fans are used to that.
6 - Who wins this game and why? With DraftKings Sportsbook listing the Eagles as 6.5-point road favorites, what’s your score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Commanders season?
I’m not going to predict a Washington win, but with the history between these teams it wouldn’t surprise me. Eagles 31 – Washington 24
MORE OPPONENT INSIGHT
Check out John Stolnis talking to Jamual Forrest from Hogs Haven for this week’s edition of Enemy On The Enemy for BGN Radio:
Eye on the Enemy Ep.1⃣5⃣6⃣ @JohnStolnis and special guest @LetMualTellit— BGN Radio (@BGN_Radio) October 28, 2023
Are the Commanders about to go into sell mode?
Is Ron Rivera on his last legs?
Can the Commanders deliver a repeat performance against the Eagles?
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