The Washington Commanders improved to 2-0 in preseason with Monday night’s 29-28 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. While preseason wins don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, Monday night’s win was a bit different as the Commanders ended Ravens’ 24-game preseason winning streak.
Washington chose to play their offensive starters for the entire first half. That meant a lot of work for newly named starter Sam Howell. Howell responded, completing 19 of 25 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington will close the preseason on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals. It is doubtful that the starters will play for the Commanders. NFL teams will reduce rosters to 53 players next week, giving them one last chance to evaluate potential roster contenders.
What did we learn from Washington’s victory over Baltimore? Here are five takeaways from Monday’s win.
Sam Howell continues to feel comfortable
He Commanders named Sam Howell starting quarterback last week. The decision was a long time coming and was not a surprise. So even though Howell is officially the starting quarterback, he still needs reps. On Monday, head coach Ron Rivera gave the offense the first half, giving Howell some critical reps as they prepare for Week 1.
Howell responded. He took two sacks, humbly admitting they were on him after the game. On the first sack, Howell responded in a big way, with a 16-yard completion to tight end. cole turner on third and 15. It was a beautiful, accurate pitch from Howell. He continued to make impressive shots out of the pocket and on the move. He gave receivers room to run after the catch, and most of the six incompletions were thrown out.
It was a good job for Howell. The Commanders weren’t looking to Howell to lead them to a preseason victory, but rather for him to continue to develop a relationship with his receivers and earn precious live reps on Eric Bieniemy’s offense.
Commanders may have dodged a bullet with McLaurin
Washington fans held their collective breath when star receiver Terry McLaurin limped off the field just before halftime. McLaurin entered the locker room and received X-rays, which came back negative. That is excellent news. McLaurin now has almost three weeks to prepare for Week 1.
The Commanders were lucky here. While we don’t know if McLaurin’s injury will persist, there should be no long-term concerns here. McLaurin will not play in the pre-season finale, and he probably wouldn’t have even if the injury hadn’t occurred on Monday.
Where was the rush of the pass?
Yes we know Montez sweat, chase young, jonathan allen and Daron Payne Didn’t Play But where was Washington’s pass rush? The Commanders love the depth of their defensive line, and that group struggled against the Ravens, particularly in the first half. Throughout the game, Baltimore’s quarterbacks had a lot of time in their pocket. It was an opportunity for some of Washington’s young defensive ends to make a play, and they were mostly quiet. Commanders were credited with one QB hit throughout the game.
seventh round pick Andre Jones Jr. he had another standout play, stopping a Baltimore running back in the backfield for a loss.
Cole Turner as TE1?
Yes we know logan thomas he is Washington’s starting tight end. But you can’t help but wonder if the calf injury he’s battled for weeks will persist through the season. After all, Thomas is 32 and coming off a couple of injury-plagued seasons. that has allowed john bates and Cole Turner the chance to get more involved in the passing game.
Bates and Turner have had good camps. Turner has been fantastic in both preseason games. On Monday, Turner caught two passes for 24 yards, including a 16-yard reception on third and long from Howell.
If Turner can stay healthy, he could become Washington’s best tight end in 2023. He and Howell already have a good relationship.
The fans brought the energy.
Yes, it was a preseason game. Yes, the stands were not full. But Washington fans were still there at noon on game day, a preseason Monday. The fans in attendance were loud and involved. And late-nighters cheered the Commanders on late in the hopes they would end Baltimore’s preseason streak. The energy surrounding the team right now is real.