On Sunday, Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott made four field goals, including a 54-yarder in OT to give the Eagles a 34-31 win over the Commanders.
In addition, Elliott became the third kicker in Eagles history to appear in 100-plus career games, joining David Akers (188, 1999-2010) and Bobby Walston (148, 1951-62).
This season, Elliott has been very accurate. He’s made 13/14 field goals, including a season-high 61-yarder in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings.
The seven-year veteran has made many big kicks, including the biggest in team history in Super Bowl 52, where his hit a 46-yard field goal late in the fourth that helped the Eagles defeat the Patriots.
Eagles special teams coach Michael Clay has been with Elliott since he’s been in the league, and according to Clay, Elliott enjoys the pressure.
“Really, it’s just his mindset going into anything,” Clay said Tuesday. “Really anything Jake does, whether it’s on the football field or in here or in our room, his competitive drive is something that is unmatched, and I’m sure he’s alluded to it when he was playing all those sports in high school and everything. He has that mindset where he wants the pressure on him and he knows he’s going to come through in any given situation, which is awesome.
The 2021 Pro Bowler was drafted in the fifth round in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Bengals, but he was waived at the end of training camp. Ultimately, he would sign with the Eagles. Clay discussed when he realized Elliott was a special player.
“Going back a few years ago now, six years ago I think, coming out of Memphis, I knew he was one of the better kickers coming out,” he said. “I was fortunate enough that we had a kicker out there in San Francisco, but just that competitive drive, and you watch every game from around the league, and you just know, something sticks out when a guy as a rookie against the Giants hits a 61-yarder to win the game, you know there’s something special in that kid. He’s done a great job of just getting better and better as he goes on in his career.”
Elliott has been a weapon for the Eagles this season, and at age 28, he has a lot of life left in his leg.
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell had his “Welcome to the NFL” moment as the Commanders(2-1) were routed by the Buffalo Bills 37-3 on Sunday at FedExField.
Coming into Sunday’s game against the Bills, Howell was undefeated as a starter(3-0) and has played reasonably well. However, he was off against Buffalo.
The second-year quarterback completed 19/29 passes for 170 yards and four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Despite his struggles, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera kept Howell in the game, and he explained why on Monday.
“Well, right now we are 2-1,” Rivera said. “Sam’s won three games in four starts. So, we’ll just continue to go from there and see how things go. We kept Sam in because we felt the only way he’s going to grow and get better is to play. That’s why we did what we did.”
According to Rivera, Howell was a little indecisive on Sunday.
“I think the biggest thing is just, again, sometimes he gets a little indecisive,” Rivera said. “He gets through his progression, and he’s a little bit of a hiccup, and sometimes he’s just got to trust it and go ahead and go with it, and other times just get rid of the ball.”
The 23-year-old was sacked nine times by the Bills, some of that was on the offensive line, while other times it was a case of Howell holding the ball too long. Going forward, Rivera knows Howell has to get the ball out sooner.
“You’d like him to reach the ball before he gets hit,” Rivera said. “Sure. I’m being serious. Whether that’s in your mindset saying, okay, there is a two-and-a-half second clock, which we all know and understand and believe in, but at the same time, because of his agility and abilities, sometimes he can extend the play and which we’ve seen, and we’ve seen him do it successfully. But we’ve also seen it where there’s that little hesitation; it’s cost him a little bit. So again, we wanted to continue to go with the clock in his head, but at the same time, we don’t want him to miss opportunities if they’re there. Upfront, we’d like to hold our blocks a little bit longer if we can.”
Things will only get more challenging for Howell and the Commanders as they travel to Philadelphia to face the undefeated Eagles, who have one the best pass rushes in the NFL. First, the offensive line has to be better, and next, Howell has to get the ball out quickly. Otherwise, he could have another long day at the office.
The Washington Commanders made it official on Friday. Sam Howell will be the team’s starting quarterback for Washington’s season-opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
The second-year quarterback beat out veteran Jacoby Brissett to get the job and to lead the Commanders into the 2023 season.
Washington had a preseason game against the Browns, where Howell played fairly well, and the Commanders had joint practices with the Ravens this week. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said Howell’s performance against the Ravens got him the job.
“I think after the first practice against Baltimore,” Rivera said. “That was the high watermark for me in terms of having to see him show us that he is capable of doing the things that we need him to do. You know, it was a very good day.
“There was a lot of positive things that came out of it, and blocking the tape back at the office I had at the hotel, a little room I had, I kept thinking to myself, you know, that’s what I wanted to see, that’s what I wanted to see. And so I wanted to make sure that when we got back yesterday, we had an opportunity because the players were off. I wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to talk about what we’re seeing and make sure it was the things that we needed to see, and we all agreed. So, I just feel confident enough going and comfortable enough to say that Sam’s our guy, and we really think that he’s done those things.”
Howell is appreciative of the opportunity.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity that the coaches have given me,” Howell said. “Shout out to [Head] Coach [Ron] Rivera for just believing in me and always trusting me really since I got here. I just shout out to him and all my coaches, [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator] [Eric Bieniemy] EB, [Quarterbacks Coach] Tavita [Pritchard], [Senior Offensive Advisor/Game Management] [Ken] Zampese, [Assistant Quarterbacks/Offensive Quality Control] Luke [Del Rio], all the guys, [QB] Jacob [Brissett].”
Throughout the QB competition, the 22-year-old was confident in his ability to get the job done.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously, I’m always confident in my abilities just to come out here and perform and do well for this football team,” he said. “I think just throughout camp every single day, I’ve gotten better and more comfortable, and I feel like I’m in a really good place right now with the offense. I feel really good going out there every single day, and I feel good about my chances to go out there and execute.”
The Commanders made the right move in making the fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft the team’s starting quarterback. We know what Brissett is as a player, but we need to know what Howell can be, and the team should give him an opportunity to be the team’s franchise quarterback.
We’ll see if he gets the job done.
On Tuesday, Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera made some interesting comments regarding his assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
According to Rivera, players have approached him about concerns regarding Bieniemy’s hard-nosed coaching style.
Before joining the Commanders this offseason, Bieniemy, who played nine seasons in the NFL, spent the last five seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Wednesday, Rivera clarified his statements.
“Well, listen, I want to open up with this pretty much. I realized my comments yesterday took on a different life than I intended yesterday, and that’s on me for not being as clear as I needed to be. I’ll own that. At the end of the day, we know that we’re trying to build here and we’re all aligned. As I’ve said many times since I’ve hired [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator] Eric [Bieniemy], I love the overall message that he gave to the team his first day. That was basically, we got to learn to be comfortable when we’re uncomfortable. And I think what’s happened is for those guys on that side of the ball, things are uncomfortable. There’s been a lot of change and the entire way of doing things has changed on the offensive side. Change is hard and I’ve always encouraged our players to have great dialogue and build relationships with our staff. Since those conversations took place with Eric and the players, I’ve seen the improvements.
“I can honestly say that the last couple of practices probably have been the best of training camp, which I think is great. To me, that displays a team is beginning to embrace the message and approach to how he does things and how we want things done. I also want to clear up the evidence I made about [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] in comparison to Eric. I did not communicate that correctly and I met with Eric. We had a great conversation and that was cool. I think the biggest thing is that we’re all on the same page. Everybody. I’m fortunate to have an experienced staff, guys like Eric and Jack, and a roster of players who want to help this franchise take the next step. We’re all working to build a culture where players and staff can respect each other’s point of views and the way that we do things and continue to be very professional with one another. At the end of the day, we’re all a family and we’re working towards the same goal, and that’s to win. I just wanted to get that out there so everybody understands. I wasn’t as clear as I probably needed to be, and I own that and that’s on me.”
On why he would mention his comments from yesterday:
“I think just to show the difference in who they are. You know, one guy’s experience is different from the other guy’s experience, but we all do things our way and we all have the same goal in mind and that’s to win. I think the best thing about it too is our players have learned their communications with our coaches. I think that has been a big part of why you’re starting to see the improvement because everybody understands why, why we’re doing these things, what we’re trying to get accomplished and that’s important.”
On clarification regarding comments about the coordinators style of coaching:
“I was just trying to convey that we all have our own way of doing things, you know, and neither one’s better than the other. I mean, I had [Former NFL Head Coach] Buddy Ryan riding me for two years, I had [Former NFL Head Coach] Mike Ditka riding me for nine, and it’s the way they did things. You know, their approach is completely different from mine. I’m not saying one’s better than the other, I’m just saying that we’re all different. We all have our ways.”
On his comments regarding player concerns with Eric Bieniemy:
“I think the biggest thing more than anything else is everybody just wanted to know why, you know, what’s he trying to get out of it? And when you understand why, why people do the things the way they do ’em, and you look at the end result, that’s the important thing. The best part is we’re seeing them, you can’t deny yesterday was a good practice. Can you? I mean, from my perspective, when I watched practice yesterday, I was very pleased. I think a lot of it is because guys understand what we’re trying to do and that’s what I think is important. They understand it because they’ve had open dialogue with them and that’s the thing. I mean, honestly, the articles that were written yesterday, and I saw a couple of the headlines, the headlines could say, oh, the players understand, the players are getting it. You know what I’m saying? Instead of what they said and if you sit there and you read it and you go, wow. But it’s the same thing for you guys. You get a new editor, comes in and he’s going to be different and you got to go, oh wow, why does he do that? But then all of a sudden you see why and you go, whoa, I get it. Well, that’s what’s happening. We’re having these aha moments and it’s because there’s been open dialogue, it’s because guys have come to him and talked to him about it and that’s what is really appreciative is that guys are willing to talk and Eric’s very honest and very blunt and very upfront, which I think is great. Because we all know where we stand, and that’s the most important thing.”
On Eric Bieniemy’s reception of his guidance and advice:
“Absolutely. I mean, it’s been great. He knows who he is and he knows how he’s going to do things and that’s great. I mean, we all do things differently and that’s all he’s done is just do it his way, do things the way that he knows how to do ’em best and I have an appreciation of that. Because I said, I’ve probably played for two of the toughest throwback type guys that you could have and to me, Eric is a little bit of a throwback.”
On if the comments from yesterday created a perception of softness:
“Well, I think the biggest thing more than anything else is just the perception, you know, and that’s the thing that we all deal with. As I said, no, I think what it is trying to understand why, more so than anything else and that’s why, to me, it was important. I just tell them, hey, just go talk to him and Eric has an open door. Guys came in, guys talk with them and you’re starting to see the results when you look on the field, guys understand they get it. Guys aren’t fighting it, guys just kind of want to know why.”
On if he addressed his comments yesterday with the team:
On the expectations of hiring Eric Bieniemy:
“I didn’t expect anything other than what we’ve gotten and that’s the guy that who he is, true to his personality. That was one of the things that drew me to him. I mean, I waited till the end of the Super Bowl to interview him and hire him. He’s been everything that people have told me who he is, they told me he’s going to hold people accountable, he’s going to be the kind of guy that’s going to go out there and do the things that he does and knows how to do and he’s been that, and the players are getting that. I mean, again, like I said, the last couple of practices have all pointed to one thing and that is the growth of this football team and not just on the offense, but overall. I mean, his impact is being felt by our offensive guys. His impact is being felt by everybody.”
On players coming to him about Eric Bieniemy and his practices:
“No, just different things. They just wanted to understand him and I think the biggest thing is guys go talk to him, find out who he is and that’s really what’s happened. I think that’s, to me, has been a really good thing that’s helped him and helping the players.”
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.
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.
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