July 22, 2024

Five bold predictions for the 2024 Washington Commanders

Don’t look now, but NFL preseason is barely a month away, and before we know it, it’ll be time to spend every Sunday afternoon parked in front of the TV cheering on our favorite teams.

For the Washington Commanders, this year is a transitional year with rookie QB Jayden Daniels and first-year head coach Dan Quinn among the many new faces in the building. Let’s look at five bold predictions for how their season might play out.

1. The offensive line will be much improved

Washington had many weak spots in 2023, but the biggest was the offensive line, which allowed 65 sacks during the season. The line slightly improved throughout the year — after giving up 40 sacks in the first seven games, it gave up only 25 in the remaining 10.

The Commanders’ O-Line was revamped over the offseason. Charles Leno Jr., Nick Gates and Tyler Larsen are no longer on the team, while Tyler Biadasz, Nick Allegretti and rookie Brandon Coleman are in. Rising star Sam Cosmi remains the group’s leader and could emerge as a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Between all that and the fact that Daniels’ mobility should help him extend plays, you can make a decent bet that the Commanders won’t give up another 65 sacks this year.

2. Jeremy Chinn emerges as Washington’s best free agent signing

The Commanders brought in a laundry list of free agents during the 2024 offseason — 22 in total — including some big names such as Bobby Wagner, Austin Ekeler and Zach Ertz. Many players were brought in to be veteran presences while others are low-risk flyers, yet one name sticks out as a potential high-impact contributor.

Suppose the name of former Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn rings a bell for Commanders fans. In that case, it’s likely because he was considered one of the primary competitors to Washington’s Chase Young for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors during the 2020 season. His numbers have steadily dipped since, with injuries playing a role the past two seasons, but perhaps a change of scenery could reignite him.

3. Brian Robinson is the team’s top offensive player

Through two seasons thus far, RB Brian Robinson Jr. has simply lacked opportunities. His rookie year was notably hampered when he was shot in the leg before the season, and then in 2023, when he became the full-time lead back, the Commanders refused to run the ball under OC Eric Bieniemy.

That shouldn’t be a problem now, and even with the signing of Ekeler, it should be Robinson who gets most of the run (literally) in the backfield. He’ll experience a breakout year by eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark and making his first Pro Bowl, and will, at times, be carrying Washington’s inexperienced offense on his back.

4. Emmanuel Forbes flips “bust” narrative with major bounce-back year

Of the many Commanders players who were oft-criticized in 2023, one of the top scapegoats had to be rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, who struggled to make an impact and was benched multiple times for poor play. Forbes, the 16th overall pick in the 2023 draft, recorded only one interception despite being drafted as a notorious ball hawk.

However, that “bust” narrative will flip in 2024 thanks largely to Washington’s hiring of former Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. as its new defensive coordinator. Whitt was a major part of the development of Cowboys players such as Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland into interception machines, and he’ll be exactly what Forbes needs to turn things around.

5. The Commanders finish above .500

Perhaps it’s a bit irrationally optimistic, but with the way the NFL schedule is built to increase parity and the unpredictable nature of the game, we’ve seen plenty of last-place teams experience quick turnarounds the following season. The Commanders (then the Washington Football Team) were one of them in 2020, the last time they hired a new head coach. Rivera took them to the playoffs and won the NFC East that season at 7-9.

Washington won’t win the division in 2024, given how strong the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are. Still, it’s not unreasonable to think they could compete for a playoff spot in a pretty weak NFC outside of those two teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. So let’s go ahead and call it right here: the 2024 Washington Commanders will finish 9-8, barely missing out on the postseason.