The Washington Commanders awakened on New 12 months’s Day with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot.
Now they could be eradicated by time for supper.
The Commanders made the choice earlier within the week to return Carson Wentz to the beginning lineup. Wentz, who suffered a finger damage again in Week 6, changed Taylor Heinicke within the second half of Washington’s loss final week to the San Francisco 49ers.
With the good thing about hindsight, the choice to start out Wentz seems to be like a mistake. He threw three interceptions, and the Washington offense struggled to generate any consistency towards the Cleveland Browns. And as an alternative of being in place to clinch a playoff spot relying on outcomes round the remainder of the NFC, the COmmanders can be glued to their televisions on this night time, hoping to keep away from elimination.
Wentz’s first interception got here on Washington’s opening drive of the sport. With the Commanders going through a third and 6, Wentz regarded to attach with Terry McLaurin on an out route. However as you’ll be able to see from this view of the play, he locks onto McLaurin early within the route, an the ball comes out a step late. That offers Denzel Ward an opportunity to leap the route for the Browns:
Wentz’s second interception got here early within the second quarter. With the Commanders going through one other third down, Wentz tries to check the Browns secondary deep.
Cleveland’s protection passes the check:
As with the earlier play, you’ll be able to see Wentz lock onto Curtis Samuel early within the down. Compounding the issues for Washington is the truth that the ball is underthrown, giving Grant Delpit an opportunity to chop below the route and make the interception.
Wentz and the Commanders offense would reply, nevertheless, with a protracted landing drive capped off by a Wentz quarterback sneak on fourth down to provide Washington the lead. Wentz made a variety of good throws on the drive, akin to this deep out path to rookie Jahan Dotson to maneuver the chains on third and lengthy:
Good route by Jahan Dotson on third&17. May have had a TD on this route final week too. Wentz, to his credit score, finds him with a very good throw for a primary down pic.twitter.com/ODs29cNw9d
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) January 1, 2023
When the Commanders wanted an enormous play on offense, that’s when Wentz threw his third choose of the day. Cleveland took a 24-10 with over 5 minutes remaining on a landing cross from Deshaun Watson to Amari Cooper. Needing to get again into the sport, Washington shifted into hurry-up mode, and drove into Cleveland territory.
However that’s when Wentz made one other mistake:
As you’ll be able to see from this angle, it seems to be like Wentz has the deep nook route alongside the left facet of the sphere. As an alternative, he checks the protection excessive to Dotson, and the throw into double protection is intercepted.
Wentz completed the day having accomplished 16 of 28 passes for 143 yards and no touchdowns, together with the three interceptions. Washington’s 24-10 loss signifies that the Commanders could possibly be eradicated from the playoffs with a Inexperienced Bay Packers win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Ought to Inexperienced Bay win that recreation, the Commanders would keep alive for yet another week.
No matter how that unfolds, evidently Washington has nonetheless extra questions surrounding the quarterback place heading into Week 18.