Locker room clean outs come for every NFL team at some point, but it is a day that players try to push off as much as possible. For the Washington Commanders, that day after the regular season finale for the second consecutive year.
There was a somber mood that hung in the Commanders' locker room in Ashburn as players filled up bags full of their belongings. Getting a win over the Dallas Cowboys at home, which brought their final record to 8-8-1, but it was hardly enough to soothe the frustration of dropping the hopes of getting to the postseason after getting out to 7-5 heading into December.
So, rather than worrying about another opponent, Washington's players are focused on recovery before preparing for the offseason. Here are some of the best quotes from players on the season and their future plans.
"You never know what the next season is gonna look like. There's gonna be changes throughout every organization. I was telling the receivers the other day to enjoy these moments that we have, because this is a fun group I got to be a part of this year, and there's a chance that not everybody will be in that same group. It's the same with the other players in this locker room, so you just try to savor those moments."
"I think we did some good things this year. I think, going forward, it would be great for us offensively to just be better in the red zone. I think we did a great job of moving the ball for the majority of the year against all the teams we went against. But whether it was self-inflicted penalties, or we get down into the red zone and we couldn't quite capitalize, that stifled a lot of our drives. That's something I think we go into the offseason and improve on."
"I learned a lot from sitting back and watching. I really haven't done that for my whole entire life. I think the biggest thing I learned was how much I loved playing football. Being on the sideline, not being able to play for most of the year made me realize how I truly love the game of football. So, every time I'm out on that field, I'm gonna try to cherish every moment."
"I'm just gonna try to go to work and just try to become the best player I can be and try to come back here better than I'm gonna leave it. I'm just gonna try to come back the best that I can and try to get ready to go."
"I'm just gonna try to control what I can control. I'm sure they have a lot of decisions that they need to make, and whatever those decisions are, I'll be ready to go and they're gonna get my best."
"I know I'll be 100% ready to go for the season. At this point, it doesn't really matter how long it takes in the offseason to get ready, I know I'll be back.
"You never wanna get hurt, but I made sure I came in every day. I think I would have gone insane if I hadn't, so it was a little bit selfishly to keep myself sane, but I was still in there every day, still trying to help everybody out in that film room. It felt like it was a little taste of coaching.
The Washington Commanders have begun their 2022 season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Check out the top photos from the afternoon. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
"I think the common theme this year, and it makes this year really hard, is obviously we're teammates, but this is a team of a lot of friends. Everybody's just good buddies, and you always a bond with the guys that you play with, but this has been kind of a really cool kind of friendship-based thing. That's what made it even that much more difficult. It's awesome to finish the way that we did yesterday, but it's almost like that's the meat we left on the bone instead of getting ready for another game this week. We all gotta say our goodbyes. That's how ball goes. It is what it is."
"I really don't see it as a day of sadness, man. I see it as a day of celebration, celebrating the season and what we did this season. There's so much growth and accomplishment this year. I'm proud of everybody. So, I wouldn't see it as a day to be sad."
"There's been many times where people have counted us out, and they came in and we fought, and we showed people exactly what we can do this year, so I'm definitely looking forward to being back on the field with these guys."
"We're right there. We're on the border. It's time to take that next step. We just gotta push. We're gonna keep pushing, and next year, playoffs is the goal."
"This year, it was a fun ride. We had a nice little win streak right there. Unfortunately, we had to end it early with me, but the memories of this whole entire season, the teams we were able to beat and stuff like that, those are the little things that you cherish, especially when we don't get into the playoffs."
"We had a lot of lows, but we had a lot of highs, too. Clearly, more could have been done. We're not in the playoffs, so more could have definitely been done. Our record could have been better. We had some games where we personally didn't execute."
"Sam did really well. I thought he did some really good things. I love the energy that he brought. He's really 'quick-footed,' I would say. He got out of some scary situations and made some crucial first downs. And he made some big time throws, so he's got something he can work with."
"I'm a confident dude, and what happened with my knee, it just felt like something in my life that is definitely humbling. It just helped me grow in terms of being patient, just having to take a seat and just watch. I think it was good for me, helped me learn the game a lot differently. I would watch someone else's rushes, maybe Casey [Toohill] or [Montez Sweat], imagine myself out there."
"Honestly, these three games, the only thing I wanted to do was wreak havoc out there. Run around and wreak havoc. I feel like I did some of that, so a milestone for me was just getting back on the field. I made a few plays when I was out there, definitely helped my confidence go up. I'm building that foundation for next year."
"I enjoyed this season. I'm frustrated we didn't make the playoffs, but at the same time, our guys in our room, it was a special year. It was a fun year. I had a great time. Last year, I wasn't able to be around them so much, so I feel like this year, they were able to see my personality and see who I am a little bit. I feel like we had a great time. I'm gonna miss them, for sure."
"This is a bunch of unselfish guys. We're all out there happy for one another on the sideline. You see it on everybody's face. Guys that even play special teams for us, when they make a play, you see us running out there, hyping them up. It's just a close group."
"We had a bunch of tough games where we had to play all the way to the end and were put in a lot of sticky situations. I feel like we fought hard. We came out every game and tried to put our best game forward. I appreciate the guys, and I'm happy for what they did this season."
"All the work I put in over the years finally came to fruition for me. It just gives me patience to go into this offseason and keep grinding like I've been grinding and come out here and do it again."
"I know what I'm capable of. I know the hard work that I put in. It just pays off at the end of the day. I know I trust in my ability to be able to make plays for this team, and that's what I'm gonna be able to do in the future. So, it's just me trusting in myself, knowing what I'm capable of and just showing you guys."
"I didn't know what to expect, coming in with a completely different group, but I'm super thankful for the guys in this room. They brought me in just like I'm one of theirs, treated me like a brother, and I'm just super thankful for it."