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From the booth | Everything, everywhere, all at once


The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team. 

I watched it on the plane ride down to Dallas. It is a bizarre sci-fi movie that takes a normal family with dysfunctional and financial problems and thrusts them into mind-bending, universe-hopping, time-traveling abilities as a premise for figuring out all their personal issues. Spoiler alert: the power of an everything bagel is at the doorstep of good and bad.  

I know that doesn't make sense, nor is it even necessary to explain it further, yet here I am using it as an analogy for trying to figure out what happened to the Washington Commanders in the first month of this season. In Dallas, the football universe sent us a message: It is everything, everywhere, all at once.  

So, what are we going to do about it, stare at an everything bagel and use nonsensical logic to get a glimpse into the future?

The movie had a happy ending: the divorce was off, the daughter didn't totally hate her parents (specifically her mother), and the rest of the characters were unaware that at certain points they were zombielike killers or worse, people who acted like having hot dogs for fingers was normal.

All I can hope is that we can figure out how to get the world back on its axis and get out of whatever realm we are in. The question is: Can our family unsee the past and forge forward into the future?

The bad doesn't need to be spelled out. The penalties were abnormal and came against a team that was one of the most penalized groups in the NFL. It was all shapes and sizes and in terms of football timing, many could not have come at a worse time. Two interceptions were erased by penalties in the secondary, and a promising drive was stunted by an intentional grounding call that was dubious at best.

That said, most of the penalties were warranted, and here is the hard truth: this team needs to be able to overcome mistakes. On five separate drives, Washington committed at least one offensive penalty, and after each penalty, they were unable to get another first down. The point here is that playing perfectly is not reality, but if this team cannot overcome mistakes, their margin for error just decreased into nonexistence.

I know there is not some kind of set answer for that, in the same way that it is completely inexplicable that this team has caused one turnover in four games, and that one turnover was an interception on a desperate heave by Trevor Lawrence at the end of the Week 1 win. Yes, they had two interceptions erased by penalties in Dallas, but they did not count. So, if the team does not make any game-altering plays on defense and can't overcome a single penalty of offense, what are the chances that this turns around anytime soon?

The good: For the second straight week, Washington faced a run-first offense and in both cases, with a minor exception here or there, thrived. Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball 19 times for under 50 yards. The previous week, Jalen Hurts never hurt the defense with his legs and the Eagles rushed for only 72 yards total. That is a winning metric.

Washington's red zone conversion rate on offense and third down conversion rate on defense are also winning metrics. In fact, if you look at the box score against Dallas, you'd be confused by the final score. The Commanders had 142 yards rushing (a sign of a well-designed attack going after what I felt was a weakness of a strong Dallas defense, light edge rushers). The Commanders won time of possession, had more total yards and ran almost 30 more plays than the Cowboys. But go read the turnover and penalty lines, and you'll see why they ended up on the wrong end of another one. They beat themselves.

So, we are in some kind of alternate universe now where all those plans of how things were going to go need to be shoved into a vortex made of an everything bagel or whatever football teams use to bury the mistakes of the past.

Can you fix it quickly when it is everything, everywhere, all at once?

I watched the new Batman movie on the ride home. Vengeance won. It was less confusing. I would like to write about that next week after a visit from the Titans.

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