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Check out the Commanders' top analytical performers from 2022

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The Washington Commanders are heading into another offseason after finishing with an 8-8-1 record, and even though the team missed out on making the playoffs, there were multiple players and position groups who had strong performances. 

So, here's a look at who stood out according to the numbers and analytics. 

The defensive line 

After putting together a disappointing season in terms of pass rushing numbers, the Commanders' front bounced back by being one of the best groups at bringing down quarterbacks. 

Washington finished 12th among league defenses with 43 sacks, which is an improvement from the 38 it had in 2021. This was largely due to the dominant performances from Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, who combined for 19 sacks and 136 yards lost. 

"Well, we think he's a piece," Ron Rivera said of Payne. "He fits the formula of what we wanna do and how we wanna play and he's got the skillset that you would like to have. We think his presence on the football field was outstanding this season, and he did a lot of good things for us." 

There were few defensive line groups that were more successful at rushing the passer than Washington in 2022. Per Football Outsiders, Washington had the seventh-best adjusted sack rate (8.0%), which is a slight increase from 2021.

The running backs

Washington made the decision to lean more heavily on its running game, and that move ended up paying off for the offense because of what the unit got from its running backs.

Despite missing the first quarter of the season due to sustaining multiple gunshot wounds before Week 1, Brian Robinson received the fifth highest overall grade by NFC running backs from Pro Football Focus and eighth among all running backs (82.5). Among his fellow rookies, only Tyler Allgeier received a higher grade (86.7).

"It was a year where I just had the chance to grow as a professional and watch myself develop this year," Robinson said. "I saw myself make those strides week in and week out."

Antonio Gibson, the second part of the Commanders' duo, had a different role since Robinson operated as the downhill back, but the former Memphis standout excelled as a pass-catcher. His receiving grade of 80.5 from PFF was second among all running backs and only trailed Christian McCaffrey.

Together, they helped fuel a backfield that was 12th in rushing offense.

Terry McLaurin

Washington's best receiver continues to be great.

Back when Terry McLaurin signed a long-term contract extension in July, Rivera called the former Buckeye "an organizational signing," and McLaurin proved that time and time again in 2022. Not only did he set a new career high in receiving yards, but he also notched three-straight 1,000-yard seasons, which was the first time a Washington player had accomplished the feat since Henry Ellard in 1994-96.

McLaurin has been praised for his efficiency throughout his young career, and that was the case once again in 2022. According to PFF, McLaurin had the fifth best DVOA among all receivers (20.0%) and second best among wideouts in the NFC.

Kam Curl

The 2022 season was a difficult one for Kam Curl. He started the season with surgery on his hand that forced him to miss the first two games, and he had an ankle issue that kept him out of the final two games.

That did not stop him from being one of the best safeties in the league by PFF's metrics when he was on the field.

Because of missed time, Curl did not have the best statistical performance of his three-season career, but it was by far the best in terms of his PFF grade in multiple categories. His overall grade (82.9), run defense (80.5), tackles (85.8) and cover grade (80.8) were all personal bests for the safety.

"He does multiple things," Jack Del Rio said of Curl. "He can play like a linebacker, he can play like a nickel, he can play like a safety, He plays a lot of different spots for us. He is really intelligent. I think he has a calming effect on the rest of the guys."

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