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Hail Mail | Turning the page to Dallas


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

Let's not sugarcoat this: the past two weeks have not been great.

Okay, now that we have gotten that out of the way, I am here to try and sell some positive vibes today. A 1-2 record is not stellar (trust me, I know), but we are in Week 4 of a 17-game season.

I am not saying that the frustrations lack merit, but let's all take a breath.

Now, let's get to what Commanders fans want to know this week.

Stanley R.: In Sunday's game, the running back was good, instead of throwing more, he should keep to that. Also, he kept targeting #10, more, he has three other receivers to go to.

This is not a question, but I'm going to treat it as one. I agree that there were some things to like about the running game on Sunday (at one point, the running backs were averaging 5.3 yards per carry). I don't blame Washington for going away from that (being down 24-0 kind of makes establishing a ground game difficult), but I do think there will be some opportunities against the Cowboys with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic.

I also do not blame Washington for targeting Curtis Samuel as often as it did (he led the team with 10 targets). After all, he has been one of their better weapons. However, to Stanley's point, Rivera did say on Monday that the Commanders cannot go into games relying on their top three receivers, adding that they need to give running the ball a shot, too. We'll see how that works on Sunday, but I do like the self-awareness from Rivera.

Benjamin B.: To be or not to be that is the question. Is it going to take one or more years to have a winning season. Good luck.

First of all, I appreciate the Shakespeare reference, Benjamin. Second, and this goes back to my intro, the sky is grey, but it certainly is not falling. I believe there is a foundation for the team to build on for the rest of the season. The offense, while admittedly not at its best in Week 3, still has plenty of talented players. What's more, the running game should get a boost soon with Brian Robinson coming back to the active roster.

Of course, the defense is going through a rough patch. However, I think the players will experience a turning point. The 2020 and 2021 seasons are examples of this; although 2020 certainly had more highs than 2021, each season presented bright spots. Hopefully, the unit finds itself sooner than in years past, but progress from players like Jamin Davis against the Eagles shows that some facets of that side of the ball are moving in the right direction.

Mark. M.: Hello, with constant pressure on Wentz last week was wondering why we did not see any play action or screen passes? Seemed like most passing plays were deep drops in the pocket.

The Commanders did try some of those plays to alleviate the pressure, but there were a few factors that led to them being ineffective.

Let's start with the snaps, which were a bit too slow getting to Wentz at times. That makes it difficult to sell play-action, especially when the pass-rush is having such success with just four players.

The Commanders did try some quicker throws as well. Some of that ineffectiveness goes back to the pass-rush, but it also falls on Wentz to recognize those throws quicker. Rivera pointed it out, and Wentz agreed with it. We should get a good look at if they can adjust against a talented Cowboys team, which has one of the best fronts through three games.

Wentz, said after the game that the issues are not minor and can be fixed (the snaps are an example of this). So, if Washington can make the correct tweaks to their execution, things should even out.

Danny A.: Why aren't we bringing in veteran free agents that are out there who could help our team immediately? Why didn't we move on players in the summer that could help us?

It's a good idea in theory, Danny, but here's the thing: the veteran free agents that are out there at this point in the year are not the type that will help the team immediately for the most part. You can look at Spotrac if you like, though.

As for the other part of your question, the Commanders might have tried to get defensive players this summer. We rarely hear about team moves unless they actually agree to terms with a player, so we will never know for sure. That is why I try not to begrudge a team for what it did or did not do in free agency. I will not make an assessment with incomplete information.

Here are some things I will say about it, though: acquiring Wentz changed a lot of their plans. The Commanders needed an answer at quarterback, and that cost money. They got one, and they paid for it. The Commanders were also bidding against 31 other teams for players' services. The players are going to take the deals that are in their best interest. Those who signed with Washington felt that the contracts were in their best interest; those who did not chose other options.

The point is that free agency and trades are much more complex than simply saying, "Go get player 'X.'" There is a lot more nuance to those decisions, both on the player and team sides of the negotiations.

Anton S.: Why are we constantly wearing our white jerseys? Can we please switch up to our all-burgundy or our all-black jerseys?

Teams normally wear white in the beginning of the season to avoid the heat. Now that the temperature is starting to get cooler, we should see more variety in the uniforms going forward. The players were wearing their black helmets today, so we'll likely see the black uniforms soon.

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