Commanders’ Rivera on decision to start Wentz: ‘I’m looking for a little bit of a spark’

Carson Wentz has an opportunity at redemption. On Wednesday, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera announced that Wentz would get the start for Washington(7-7-1) when they host the Cleveland Browns(6-9) on Sunday.

Wentz, who broke his ring finger against the Bears back in October and had not played in the last eight games, relieved an ineffective Taylor Heinicke against the 49ers last Sunday and threw a touchdown pass. 

Heinicke was 5-3-1 as a starter and helped Washington get into playoff contention, but he has struggled the past few weeks; Washington is 0-2-1 in their last three games.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera explained the decision to go with Wentz.

“Well, just looking at a couple things,” Rivera said. “First off, I think seeing the way he played, how he handled things, I think where we are right now, I’m looking for a little bit of a spark, a little something different, and I think now’s a good opportunity for it.”

Wentz is excited about the opportunity.

“It feels good; it’s exciting,” Wentz said. “I think it’s exciting for me personally, but I think at the end of the day, it’s exciting for this team. We have a shot; like I said after the game, we control our own destiny, and to get to that point, this point in the season, after everything we’ve been through as a team, I think it means a lot to us. And we all know where we’re at. We all know what we’re capable of and what we’re up against. So, it’s exciting for us as a team. Obviously, I’m excited for my opportunity as well.”

The seventh-year quarterback got off to a slow start for the Commanders and was not playing all that well before the injury. However, at this point, Rivera thinks Wentz is more comfortable with the offense.

“Well, I think the biggest thing is he’s more comfortable with what we’re doing,” Rivera said. “That was evident in the game in spite of the fact that they knew we were gonna throw it. They kept coming, and I thought he handled those situations very, very well. He got the ball out a couple times, got it out to where they needed to be thrown. He threw some really nice balls. His decision-making was very quick. So, I just think that now he’s had a little bit more of an opportunity to see the rest of the offense, feel the rest of the offense. And I think that’s a big part of it. The other part, I think, is he got a little bit of a reset. He missed several games. He had an opportunity to heal up to, to look and feel better. I think that’s exactly where he is right now.”

Last season with the Colts, Wentz was in a similar position, where if Indy won one of their final two games, they would have made the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Colts lost both games and missed the playoffs.

If the Commanders, who are the seventh-seed in the NFC and would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, win their last two games, they will get in.

Wentz is not thinking about last year; he’s focused on the here and now.

“I try not to think about that,” he said. “Every year, it just seems so different. There’s years that the season has ended positively and negatively. It’s a whole new different set of guys. It’s a different team. I’m wearing a different uniform, the whole nine yards. So, I’m gonna show up and try and do my job to the best of my ability, and hopefully, we like the result.”

Wentz is more talented than Heinicke, and Washington clearly believes that Wentz makes this offense better. Now, he has to go out and do what the Commanders brought him to do, which is get them to the playoffs. 

Commanders’ Heinicke is hoping for big-time fan support against Giants

They say a tie is like kissing your sister, and in Week 13, the Giants and Commanders did just that when they ended their game tied at 20 at MetLife Stadium.

This Sunday, the Giants(7-5-1) and Commanders(7-5-1) will have a rematch of that game, but this time it’s at FedExField. There’s some much on the line. Both teams are currently tied for the second wild-card spot in the NFC. 

Like most players, Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke was unhappy with the tie. 

“Yeah, it’s not fun,” Heinicke said Wednesday. “I was kind of thinking about it; I was watching the fights this past weekend in the main event ended in a tie. I’m like, how s***y would it be to get you’re a** beat for 25 minutes and end in a tie? I kind of went back to our game. I was like, that’s kind of what we did. Ties aren’t fun. Obviously, they’re better than the loss, but the goal is to go out there and win, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Because of what’s at stake, this game was flexed to Sunday Night Football, which excites Heinicke.

“Primetime games are a lot of fun,” he said. “Those are the games that you dream of as a kid. You wanna play in front of everybody, the whole world is watching, and it’s an opportunity for you to showcase as a team what you guys got. So, guys get really excited for that.”

Last year, when these two teams played at FedExField, Heinicke felt there were too many Giants fans in the building, and he hopes that’s not the case this time around.

“Hopefully, we have more fans than Giants,” he said. “I remember last year, Thursday night game, it was pretty much 50/50. So hopefully, our guys come out Sunday night and make some noise. It’ll be a crazy atmosphere, and both of our teams are in the fight for a playoff spot, so it’s gonna be a big one.”

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is also hoping for big-time fan support.

“What we needed from them to be there and to be loud and be supportive. We’ve worked to try and become relevant. We’ve worked to try and get their attention and their focus back on us, and to have the fans’ support out there, that would be awesome. It really would. And again, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to show them and earn their respect back. We are doing everything we can to get going in the direction we want to be, and we want to play the type of football that will get them to come out and cheer for us.”

If the Commanders want the fans to support them, they will have to play well, and if they do that, things will turn out just the way Heinicke and Rivera want it.

Week 15: Giants-Commanders flexed to Sunday Night Football

The Week 15 New York Giants at Washington Commanders game will be played Sunday, December 18 at 8:20 PM ET on NBC and the New England Patriots-Las Vegas Raiders game will move to 4:05 PM ET on FOX, the NFL announced today.

The following is the final Week 15 NFL schedule (all times ET):

Thursday, December 15, 2022

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks                                  8:15 PM               Prime Video

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings                                 1:00 PM               NFLN

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns                                  4:30 PM               NFLN

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills                                                8:15 PM               NFLN

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints                                   1:00 PM               FOX

Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers                                     1:00 PM               CBS

Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears                                         1:00 PM               FOX

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans                                       1:00 PM               CBS

Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars                                     1:00 PM               FOX

Detroit Lions at New York Jets                                                1:00 PM               CBS

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos                                         4:05 PM               FOX

New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders                           4:05 PM               FOX

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers                               4:25 PM               CBS

Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers                           4:25 PM               CBS

New York Giants at Washington Commanders                      8:20 PM               NBC

Monday, December 19, 2022

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers                                   8:15 PM               ESPN

Giants’ Barkley on tie against Commanders: ‘It sucks’

The New York Giants and Washington Commanders battled for 70 minutes, and unfortunately for both teams, the game ended in a 20-20 tie at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. 

The Giants trailed 10-0 at the end of the first quarter but tied things up at 13 at the break. New York led for most of the second half; however, Washington wide receiver Jahan Dotson had a 28-yard game-tying touchdown reception late in the contest, which sent the game to OT.

New York had three possessions in overtime and got into Commanders’ territory twice, but they could not score points. Ultimately, Graham Gano’s 58-yard field goal would fall short at the buzzer.

Ironically, the last time the Giants ended a game with a tie was against Washington in 1997.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw for 200 yards and a touchdown and ran for 71 yards, was disappointed with the tie.

“I think we’re all pretty disappointed with the result,” Jones said. “Certainly not the one we were looking for. We’ll go back to work and clean up a lot of things. I think it’s safe to say we’re disappointed but looking forward to getting back to work and working on things we got to improve on.”

Saquon Barkley, who had 63 yards rushing and a touchdown, was equally disappointed.

“It sucks, obviously,” he said. “You go out there, you wanna compete, and you want to win. When you put your bodies on the line and come out with a tie, it doesn’t feel good for either team. Just have to treat it like a win or a loss. Just have to go back in and watch film and get ready for the next opponent and get back to it.”

Like Jones and Barkley, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera was disappointed in the final result.

“That was very hard; I wasn’t quite sure what to say,” Rivera said. “Kind of a disappointment in some respect; we had some opportunities. From my perspective, we had some chances that we missed on some things. That’s pretty much it.”

After being 7-2, the Giants are winless in their last three games and are 7-4-1 entering their home game next week against NFC-leading Eagles(11-1), who are playing some excellent football, so New York could easily go winless in four straight games. Washington heads into the bye week.

These two teams will play again two weeks from now in Washington. Both teams will have the opportunity to break the tie in that contest, but for now, the Giants and Commanders remain disappointed.

 

Hurts still confident in team after loss

Every team wants to win every game; however in life, there are no losses but only lessons. Hopefully, the Eagles(8-1) learned some valuable lessons after suffering their first loss of the season as they fell to the Washington Commanders(5-5) 32-21 at Lincoln Financial Field. 

The first lesson Philadelphia hopefully learned is protecting the football. Coming into this game against Washington, Philly had only three turnovers in eight games, but on Monday night, they had four turnovers, which led to 17 Washington points.

The next lesson the Eagles hopefully learned is that they must stop the run. Philly allowed 152 yards on 49 carries. While the Commanders averaged only 3.1 yards per carry, it did allow Washington to hold the ball for 40:24, and in addition, they let the Commanders keep drives alive as they were 12/21 on third downs.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who completed 17-of-26 attempts for 175 yards, two touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and an interception, expects the team to respond favorably after the loss.

“My message to [the team] this morning and before the game ironically was hungry dogs run faster,” Hurts said after the loss. “When you win, they say it’s hard to keep the hunger, and I think this team is in a position to dictate on how we want to respond to this adversity, this obstacle in our way. What is done is done, so there is a what now mentality. And I know my mentality moving forward. I know my attention to detail in terms of my preparation and how that will look moving forward. I know my eagerness to play to the standard moving forward. I know what that is. I know how this team will respond, and I have confidence in this football team.”

Many people started talking about the possibility of Philadelphia going 17-0, but according to Hurts, it wasn’t something that was not on his mind.

“I wasn’t entertaining it at all,” Hurts said. “You obviously want to win all of the games we play in. Tonight wasn’t our night. The message for me is control the things that you can. When you do that, you have a pretty good opportunity to be victorious in the end. How do you do it? You prepare, attention to detail, the energy you have, the approach, the mentality towards it, and ultimately playing together.”

This was a good loss for the Eagles, hopefully getting them to refocus and get back to their winning ways against the Colts next Sunday.

Wentz responds to Rivera’s comments

On Monday, Washington Commander head coach Ron Rivera made some interesting comments about the quarterback position in the NFC East. 

When asked why the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants are ahead of the Commanders, Washington coach Ron Rivera said: “Quarterback.”

On Tuesday, Rivera said he apologized to the team for his comments and, according to him, had a great conversation with Wentz.

“I do, but you know, at the end of the day, I spoke to my team this morning,” Rivera said. “I basically told them that I said some things that were misconstrued. I didn’t present it properly, and that’s on me. So I took accountability, told the guys that I should know better. Sh**, I had a bad day. I figured, you know, I’m feeling better today; let’s move forward. So, to me, as far as I’m concerned, it’s really now about the most important thing that’s getting ready for football…

“The players have been really positive about it, and Carson [Wentz] and I had a nice conversation. So I think we’re ready to roll.”

Wentz, who said he had no idea about Rivera’s comments until today, gave his thoughts on the issue.

“So, honestly, I had no idea any of that happened until Sean(DeBarbieri) over here gave me a heads up,” he said. “But yeah, Coach addressed it, handled it, nothing for me that I’m overly concerned about. Coach is a very straightforward, upfront guy, and he addressed it in the team meeting, which I thought was really cool and what he meant by it all. So, I feel very confident in that.” 

When asked what is the difference between the teams in the NFC East, Wentz said the following: 

“I wish I had all the answers on that,” he said. “You know, I think there’s a lot of football left. I think there’s a lot of varying factors across our division, which is obviously a very good division at this point in the season, but at the same time, I know there’s a lot of ball left. We talked about it after the game, unfortunately, we kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we know where we’re at. We know what we’re capable of, and we can’t try and fix it all right away. Our job is to try and go on to know this week, and we got a short week to do that, so we’re focused on that.”

Winning cures everything, and after losing four straight, Washington has to get a win against the Bears in Chicago on Thursday night.

Commanders’ Robinson: ‘Never give up on something you really truly believe in’

In August, Washington Commanders RB Brian Robinson Jr. was a victim of a carjacking in Washington, D.C. Robinson was shot in his glute and lower leg. After the shooting, he underwent surgery and spent time in a D.C. area hospital. Ultimately, he was placed on the non-football injury list.

On Wednesday, the rookie running back returned to practice, and if all goes well, he could make his NFL debut this Sunday when the Commanders host the Tennessee Titans.

After practice, Robinson met the media, and for him, being in the hospital bed after the shooting was one of the lowest points of his life.

“It probably one of the lowest points in my life,” he said. “That was probably the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life, you know? The only thing I remember from being in the hospital just receiving all the love and everybody reaching out to me, spreading the love. That was all I needed at the time. People probably didn’t know that was all I needed at the time was the love and the care and the respect from the situation I was in.”

According to Robinson, once the doctors said he would still be able to play football, he did everything in his power to make that happen with the help of his doctors and trainer.

“Once the doctor told me I’ll be able to play ball again, then my mind automatically clicked into what I needed to do to get myself back on the football field, you know?” he said. “So, you know, just listening to the doctors and the trainers and everybody who you knows, been in my circle helping me. They’ve done everything they possibly could to get me to this point, and I’m just thankful for all of them, honestly.”

Following the completion of his first running back drill at practice, Robinson pointed to the sky, which he explained.

“I did that because that was just the first thing, you know, God was the first man; I had to put in first, you know after I went through that running back drill that you’re talking about,” Robinson said. “I was forced to do a few movements in that drill that I wasn’t completely confident in before walking out on the field. So, you know, after doing the drill, it just helped me gain more confidence in myself. So by the time I finished that drill, you know, I knew that I was at least where I needed to be, if not a little bit further, as far as, you know, the progress I made.”

Robinson also had a message for those battling adversity.

“Never give up on something you really truly believe in,” he said. “Like, my passion for this game run so deep, you know? I never thought I’d be in a situation where I had to question or I’d be questioned if I’d be able to return back to playing football. So my message would be whatever you want, just go after it, man. It really doesn’t matter what it takes, you know, ups and downs going to come with it. You just got to fight. You got to fight till the end, fight until the finish. Just keep fighting away until you know the time comes, you know?”

If Robinson gets on the field this week, next week, or at any point of the season, it doesn’t matter. Robinson being alive is the best part of the story.

Eagles’ Hurts: ‘I think we have yet to play our best ball’

The Philadelphia Eagles move to 3-0 as they defeated Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders(1-2) 24-8 at FedExField on Sunday.

The Eagles led 24-0 at halftime but didn’t score the rest of the way. Philadelphia is 3-0 for the 10th time in franchise history (first time since 2016). The Eagles have also won each of their first two road games of the season for the first time since 2010.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of Philly’s big win over Washington.

The Great:

Defense: Philadelphia sacked Wentz eight times on Sunday, including two strip sacks. Brandon Graham led the Eagles with 2.5 sacks

During the first half, Philadelphia’s defense allowed zero points and 50 total yards (66 rushing, -16 passing) on 28 plays, along with six sacks(four sacks in the first quarter), two FFs, and one takeaway. In the last two weeks, Philly’s defense has allowed only two touchdowns, combining for 11.0 sacks and four forced turnovers. 

DeVonta Smith: He had career highs in both catches (eight) and yards (169). Also, Smith finished the game with a touchdown. The second-year receiver had seven of his eight receptions and 156 of his 169 receiving yards in the first half. After no receptions in Week 1, Smith has accumulated 15 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown in the last two weeks.

Second Quarter: Hurts and the Eagles’ offense got off to a slow start and went scoreless in the first quarter. However, Hurts and the offense picked it up in the second quarter as they scored 24 points. The third-year quarterback threw three touchdowns passes. He finished the first half with 279 yards and three touchdowns and ended the game 22-35 for 340 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Not So Great:

Second Half Offense: For the second week in a row, the Eagles’ offense went scoreless in the second half. Fortunately, the defense was stout and kept the pressure on Wentz. Hurts threw for only 61 yards in the second half. They punted the ball on three of their five second-half possessions and allowed Washington to score their first points on a safety. However, they did get a first down on their final possession and did not allow Washington to get the ball back.

Bottom Line:

The Eagles get another big win and move to 3-0, and for the second week in a row, the defense played a complete game. Now, the offense has to be good for four quarters, not just one or two.

This season, in three games, Philadelphia has scored 72 points(24.0 points average) in the first half. However, in the second half, they scored only 14 points(4.6 points average). This trend has to get fixed. Back to the defense, they have been stellar after a subpar game in Week 1 against the Lions. If the defense continues at this level, Philadelphia will be tough to beat; we’ve seen this defense beat up on average quarterbacks in 2021, and that trend continues in 2022. 

Wentz was under a lot heat on Sunday, and while it’s still early, it appears the Eagles made the right choice in selecting Hurts to replace Wentz. Round 1 went to Hurts and the Eagles, but Round 2 will be in November.

Quotables:

“I think we have yet to play our best ball yet,” Hurts said. “I think we’re close in terms of executing on a consistent basis through all four quarters of the football game. Last year, I remember being asked the question of ‘How close are you? You’re saying this every week?’ Well I think it’s the same situation here. Just got three wins in our column but I could care less about it because we haven’t played to our standard yet. If we can continue to strive and play to our
standard, everything else will handle itself. It’s a day-by-day thing.”

What’s Next:

Philadelphia will battle their former coach Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars(2-1) next Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Best of the Rest:

-Wentz finished the game, completing 25-of-43 passes for 211 yards. He added three rushes for 22 yards.

-A.J. Brown finished 85 yards on five receptions (17.0 avg.) with a touchdown during today’s game. The score marked the first touchdown of Brown’s career as an Eagle.

-Dallas Goedert totaled three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Goedert leads all NFL tight ends in 20-plus yard receptions this season.

Commanders’ Rivera on Wentz: ‘I think we have a guy that we can now establish and rally around’

It’s hard to win in the NFL when you don’t have stability at the quarterback position, and for the Washington Commanders, finding that franchise quarterback has been tricky.

Over the last five seasons, Washington has had a different starting quarterback, and 2022 will make it the sixth consecutive season as quarterback Carson Wentz will start for the team when they host the Jaguars in the season-opener on Sunday.

Wentz is on his third team in three seasons, and he’s trying to prove he can still be a franchise quarterback. The 29-year-old is talented and was on course to be league MVP in 2017 until he tore his ACL late in the season. 

According to Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, Washington has a quarterback they can rally around. 

“Well, I think we have a quarterback. I do,’ he said Monday. “I think we have a guy that can help us. I mean, not to say we didn’t have some quality quarterbacks. Again, we did some pretty good things with when we had Alex Smith playing for us. I thought that was a great job by him, and again, I thought last year Taylor [Heinicke] did the things that he needed to do to help us. But I think we have a guy that we can now, you know, establish and rally around and build off of, which is what we tried to do in the off-season, as far as making sure we had a stout offensive line to protect him and in the playmakers and again, I’ll always refer to that cuz I think that’s what you have to do. Now in our circumstances, in our situation, I think we have a guy that, you know, we can establish and, and build around.”

Doug Pederson, who drafted and coached Wentz for five seasons in Philadelphia, says the seven-year veteran displays a ton of confidence.

He’s athletic, a big guy, and if you get a chance to tackle him, you’ve got to get him on the ground; he can make you pay with his legs,” Pederson said about Wentz. “I think he does play with a lot of confidence, honestly, and those guys around him will definitely support him.”

Kerrigan named assistant defensive line coach:

The Washington Commanders announced today that Ryan Kerrigan has been named assistant defensive line coach. Kerrigan will fill the role previously held by Jeff Zgonina who was promoted to the role of defensive line coach in training camp after the team fired Sam Mills III.

Kerrigan signed a one-day contract on July 29th, retiring as a member of the Burgundy and Gold. He is the Commanders all-time official sack leader.

Commanders’ Rivera on Robinson shooting: ‘I’ve gotten several phone calls as a head coach, but this one was one of the harder ones’

Washington Commanders RB Brian Robinson Jr. was a victim of a robbing or carjacking in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. Robinson was shot multiple times in the robbery and suffered what the team called non-life-threatening injuries. According to the Commanders official Twitter page, Robinson underwent surgery and is currently in a hospital. 

According to ESPN, one bullet hit his glute, and another struck him in a lower leg.

Very unfortunate situation for the rookie running back; at this point, the team is unsure when Robinson will return. However, his head coach Ron Rivera, says Robinson was very fortunate things were not worse.

“I can’t get into the specifics of it other than just say he’s doing well,” Rivera said on Monday. “We had an opportunity to visit with him last night, which was really a relief and kind of cool because he was in a really good place. The doctors were very positive with him, and he was very positive as well. We’re very fortunate. He’s very fortunate, and it’s a very unfortunate situation, but he’s doing well. It’ll be a matter of time before he is back out here. There is no timeline, but as I said, everything’s was very positive.”

No coach likes to get the phone call that one of their players was a victim of a shooting, and Rivera discussed his reaction when he received the call about Robinson.

“It was hard,” Rivera said. “I’ve gotten several phone calls as a head coach, unfortunately, but this one was one of the harder ones. First of all, because he’s a heck of a young man, he really is more than just a football player. He is really a heck of a young man. It kind of blindsided me a little bit…

“I got the phone call, I think, somewhere around six o’clock. I think it was. I’d actually popped into coach (Randy) Jordan’s office, and irony of all ironies, we were actually watching some Brian Robinson tape. When it hit us, I told coach Jordan right away, and he took it really hard initially. He just says is he okay? And I said, well, for the most part, it sounds like it. But we weren’t sure. I went over to (Commanders GM)Martin’s (Mayhew) office, and we had a conversation. We got our head of security on Mike Jacob, who was terrific with the whole situation.”

According to Rivera, a contingent of people went to the hospital to support Robinson, including Commanders owner Dan Snyder. 

Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz says a situation like Robinson’s shooting is much bigger than football.

You know, you hear that news, and it’s like, okay, this isn’t even football anymore,” Wentz said. “You know, someone was shot, and this is a real-life, off-the-field thing that someone’s going through. We’re fortunate with how he’s doing, and again, that’s all what I’ve been hearing, but things could have obviously been a lot worse. Yes, it is very real life. It takes you away from football real quick and say these are real-life issues that we all that we’re all going through and we’re not immune to it.”