The Washington Commanders are about two months removed from wrapping up the 2022 season with a win over the Dallas Cowboys, and now it is time to start looking at 2023 and how the team can build off its 8-8-1 finish.
Over the next few weeks, Commanders.com will break down every position group and lay out how the Commanders could improve the group in the coming months. Here are the positions we have covered so far:
Next up are the safeties.
On the roster
- Kamren Curl: 83 tackles, 1 sack
- Percy Butler: 11 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup
- Darrick Forrest: 88 tackles, 4 interceptions, 9 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
- Bobby McCain: 76 tackles, 5 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 quarterback hit
- Jeremy Reaves: 33 tackles, 1 pass breakup
-- Another solid year for Kam Curl: Curl has been one of the Commanders' best defenders since he joined the team as a seventh-round pick in 2020. On top of being a highly intelligent player, his versatility allows his coaches to move him from one position to another, often during the same possession.
Curl had his third straight season with at least 80 tackles, but Pro Football Focus notes that in many ways, it was the best showing of his career. His grades in overall defense (82.9), run defense (80.5), tackling (85.8) and coverage (80.8) were all career highs. He was so good that PFF gave him the second-best grade for his position.
Much of Curl's value rests in his versatility and how it affects the secondary. He has the ability to play at the buffalo nickel position, which allows players like Forrest and McCain to operate in a more traditional safety role. It also allows Washington to get its best defensive backs on the field with its often-used three safety formations.
Washington's defense is full of talent, but it has been clear over the last three seasons that Curl has played a role in the unit's success.
Eric Bieniemy introduced himself as the Washington Commanders' new assistant head coach/offensive coordinator and laid out his vision to coaches, players and the media on Thursday. Take a behind-the-scenes look at his first day getting to work in Washington. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
-- Darrick Forrest balled out in Year 2: The Commanders' secondary had a turnaround in 2022 after ranking near the bottom of passing yards allowed in 2021. Forrest, who saw one of the biggest jumps in production last season, played a part in the Commanders allowing the fourth fewest passing yard average.
"I really wanted to show my brothers that they can trust me," Forrest said. "Next year, it's just gonna be improving the little things, anything that I felt like I missed this year, just correcting and getting better."
From the time he started taking the bulk of the reps during OTAs, forcing turnovers became a habit for Forrest. Because of his four interceptions, which led the Commanders in 2022, there was a time when Forrest was ranked among the top five safeties in the league by PFF.
Forrest started his career on Injured Reserve and mostly a special teams player. Now, he has become one of the more promising players on the roster.
-- Jeremy Reaves is a special teams ace: Washington has the ultimate example of how players can still be valuable on special teams.
Reaves, who earned a spot on the Commanders' 53-man roster after years of bouncing around on the practice squad, ended up earning a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selection for finishing the year with the third-most special teams tackles in the league (17). That helped Reaves hit a career-high with 33 stops.
"He understands what his role is and he does his role to the best," Rivera said. "I think his teammates really do appreciate that, and I think that's part of it."
Several veteran free agents are set to hit the open market in a few weeks, including Jordan Poyer and Devin McCourty. The Commanders likely will not go through dramatic changes at the position, but check out who could be available, HERE.
Brian Branch and Jordan Battle from Alabama are at the top of the safety position, but CBS Sports also has six prospects at the position in their top 100. Check out who else could be available in April, HERE.