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Jahan Dotson wants to get his swagger back in Year 3


Jahan Dotson joined the Washington Commanders back in 2022 with high expectations for himself. He failed to live up to those standards last year.

While there were some statistical improvements from Dotson's rookie season, almost every number he put up in 2023 came with a downside. He had 14 more receptions but fewer yards; a higher catch percentage and identical receptions per game but fewer yards per game; and 22 more targets but three fewer touchdowns.

Add all that to that fact that Dotson was available for the entire season but had a similar performance to 2022, when he missed five games with a hamstring injury, and it is clear to see why Dotson is disappointed with himself. He's determined to get that sour taste out of his mouth as part of a new offense with a renewed sense of determination.

"I feel like I'm starting to get my swagger back a little bit," Dotson said May 14. "So, I'm getting really excited."

Dotson said he did not feel like himself in 2023, and a quick look at his game-by-game production shows what the former Penn State wideout is talking about. Prior to his injury that kept him sidelined from Week 5-9, Dotson was one of the top red zone targets in the NFL, using subtle moves in his route running to get open and finishing plays with reliable hands in traffic. Through Week 4, he and Stefon Diggs were tied for the most receiving touchdowns in the league.

Though it took some time for Dotson to get comfortable against after his injury, Dotson finished the last five games of the season with 344 yards, two touchdowns and a 60% catch rate.

Though there were times in 2023 when Dotson had moments that were reminiscent of his rookie year -- like his game-tying touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 and his 108 yards against the rematch with the Eagles in Week 8 -- they were sparse at best. He had three games without a catch, receiving just four targets in those matchups, and ended the season with 17 yards against the Cowboys.

"I just didn't feel like myself," Dotson said.

Once the season ended, Dotson didn't wait long to get back to work.

"I wasn't a fan of my season last year. So, I went really hard at it this offseason, making sure that I'm better than I was last year -- a lot better -- because I have really high expectations for myself, and I hold myself to a very high standard."

Check out all the action from the Washington Commanders' final practice of mandatory minicamp.

Dotson has been working since February to make sure that Year 2 was a speed bump and not the start of a turbulent stretch in his career. That meant going back to the basics. He worked with FAU strength and conditioning coach Joey Guarascio to build up his play strength, get faster and improve his route running.

The work seems to be paying off, too. He had one of the best plays of the Commanders' offseason workout program, making an over-the-shoulder catch from Jayden Daniels near the right sideline.

Dotson also has a new offense to learn to learn with Kliff Kingsbury joining the staff, one that will hopefully lead to more opportunities for Dotson to utilize his skill set. Despite leading the league with 636 passing attempts, the Commanders ranked 18th in yards per game. The number of completions was not the issue, as Washington ranked eighth, but those catches did not result in plays that allowed playmakers to thrive.

So far, Dotson can already tell the difference between styles.

"He's [Kingsbury's] making it very simplistic for us right now," Dotson said. "And that's really nice. We're going to build on it during the season, obviously. But right now, we're kind of getting the basics of the offense. We're kind of moving slow with it but having a sense of urgency while learning it."

Dotson should have more chances to improve in Year 3 with Curtis Samuel now playing for the Buffalo Bills. Now, Dotson is clearly slated as the team's No. 2, so he will be expected to step up in a larger role.

Dotson is eager to take on that challenge.

"I come in every day and just try to put the work in so that I can reap the benefits," Dotson said.

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