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Notes & Quotes | Casey Toohill showed burst, discipline against Falcons


Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media during his weekly press conference following the team's 24-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Here are some notes & quotes from the day. 

-- The Commanders held the Falcons to 106 rushing yards on Sunday -- their third-lowest of the season thus far -- and much of that is a credit to their use of the "cinco package," which means Washington had five defensive linemen on the field. The personnel grouping allows the Commanders to bring in a bigger body, normally John Ridgeway III, to make it more difficult for teams to run the ball against them and free up linebackers to make plays. 

The personnel group does have its weaknesses, namely when an opponent tries to run play-action passes. However, against a team like the Falcons, who commit more than most to establishing their ground game, it does impact their ability to do that. 

-- The Commanders made a few adjustments following their loss to the Chicago Bears, and one of those was giving Danny Johnson more opportunities. For the most part, Johnson played the way the Commanders expected him to, as he finished the day with four tackles. We'll see what his snap count is like going forward, but Rivera did praise Johnson for making smart plays like his critical fourth-down pass breakup.

-- Speaking of players who performed well, Rivera thought Sam Howell was "very efficient" with the football on Sunday, as he completed 61% of his passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. He was pleased with Howell's decision making for the most part, as he protected the football and did not throw an interception. There are still some things for Howell to work on, like his tendency to take too many hits, but there was growth in that area as well. On a fourth-down conversion, Howell kept the ball on a read option and slid after gaining the first down.

Howell is now ninth in the NFL in passing yards and 10th in completion percentage. While he does have some aspects of his skill set to work on, it's not a bad start for the second-year pro.

-- Daron Payne and Montez Sweat both missed time near the end of Sunday's game, but Rivera doesn't have any updates on their statuses yet. He didn't seem concerned about either player, but their availability will be something to monitor as the Commanders prepare for the New York Giants.

-- Jahan Dotson has been noticeably quiet during the Commanders' first six games. Against the Falcons, he was held without a reception on one target. On that play, he was wide open and would have gained decent yardage downfield, but the pass slipped through his hands. Rivera said "it's just a matter of time" before Dotson starts to have more of an impact.

"As we continue to work and try to distribute the ball to all the players, it'll happen. It's just one of those things that sometimes, guys will be targeted more … When a guy's not getting the ball right now, it's just a matter of time. I think that's the thing that we all have to be patient with. This is a group of receivers...and we're gonna distribute the ball based on gameplans and who our opponents are."

-- Casey Toohill played a key role in the Commanders getting a win over the Falcons with two sacks. Rivera said he's "a very disciplined player" who finds ways to put himself in position to have an impact. He works his technique and has "a little burst" to him. Both of those are helpful on plays where he rushes the passer on play-action passes.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their Week 6 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. (Photos by Emilee Fails, Kourtney Carroll and Joe Noyes/Washington Commanders)

-- The Commanders have a stretch of games coming up where they can put themselves in a good position to make a playoff push. Obviously, Rivera is aware of that, but he wants the team to continue focusing on one game at a time.

"We're 3-3; we have an opportunity to go 4-3 if we go out and play the football we're capable of," Rivera said. "To get ahead of that, I don't want to do that. I want to make sure we stay focused on the one game at a time mentality and just understand that it's the most important game we're gonna play all year...because it's the game we will play."

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