Way back in October, when Jahan Dotson was first experiencing issues with drops, head coach Ron Rivera said the Washington Commanders needed to be patient with the 2022 first-round pick, because "it's just a matter of time" before he got back on track.
Not long after that, Dotson did get back on track, and for the last three weeks, he's looked like his former self.
In the three weeks since the Commanders' game against the Atlanta Falcons, during which Dotson only had one target and no receptions, Dotson has been targeted 26 times and made 17 catches for 220 yards, which is only six yards behind Terry McLaurin’s production in that span. He now has three touchdowns on the year, which ties him for the most among Washington's pass-catchers.
Dotson's resurgence is not a surprise to his teammates, because they know how much he's worked to be more productive.
"He works so hard," said quarterback **Sam Howell.** "On the off days he's in here on the jugs machine trying to get extra catches in. He's got some of the best hands I've ever been around. He still works so hard and obviously, he's dropped a couple balls that we've seen him catch, but he knows what he's capable of."
Howell's praise is not unfounded. Dotson was known for his reliable hands during the draft process, and it's part of the reason why the Commanders took him with their first-round pick during the 2022 offseason. However, while Dotson has made clutch grabs like the game-tying touchdown in the Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he also had a stretch where he simply wasn't making the catches that the team has come to expect from him.
Of those drops, there were two that caused the most frustration. The first was on what would have been a touchdown against the Falcons. The next came against the Giants, when he couldn't haul in a fourth-down throw that would have at worst kept the offense on the field and at best tied the score.
After the game, Dotson said was going to "let it hurt."
"I know the capability of myself," Dotson said. I know I make those plays all the time with my eyes closed. So, not being able to make that play, it hurts."
Rivera could also see the frustration on Dotson's face.
"He knows he's better than that," Rivera said. "You could tell, but then you could see him working extra, pre-practice, post-practice."
But even in that game, Dotson looked more comfortable. He made five catches for 43 yards, which at the time was a season-high for him.
The following week against the Eagles, Dotson was more active with career numbers in targets (10), catches (8) and yards (108). He was also wide open on a 21-yard touchdown that put the Commanders up 14-3 in the first half.
That was a credit to the extra that Rivera alluded to from Dotson. He spent extra time with wide receivers coach Bobby Engram to figure out what he could do to fix the problem. The main topic of those conversations was that slumps happen to every player, but the biggest way to get out of them is to work through it.
"That's what he's done," Rivera said. "And I think that...he's to the point now where he's very comfortable with what we're doing and how we're doing it. I think he and Sam have developed a pretty good rapport as well."
Dotson followed up his second career 100-yard game with 69 yards against the Patriots and scored a game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. Dotson gained a step on the Patriots defender early in his route, and Howell aired out a 33-yard shot for the wideout to snag it for the score.
"It was a big play, we needed it," Dotson said. "Sam did a great job. He saw cover zero. We've been working on it all week. He gave me a chance to make a play for the team. I was able to capitalize."
After taking down the New England Patriots in Week 9, the Washington Commanders have begun preparing for their cross country matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
Building on that positive momentum will be key for Dotson. Although he played well against the Patriots, there were still some drops that stalled the offense. His first target, for example, resulted in an incompletion on third-and-2.
That isn't going to stop Eric Bieniemy from trying to get him the ball.
"I don't think Jahan has ever lost his confidence," Bieniemy said. "He just hasn't had as many opportunities as he would like. Obviously, he's had a few drops. If you play receiver long enough, you're going to have some drops throughout the course of the season. This week he did a great job making some catches [against the Eagles], made some big-time plays. I thought he played fast and explosive."
If anything, Bieniemy expects more out of Dotson.
"Just like I reminded him, you put it on tape, now I need to make sure that you're putting it on tape week in and week out."