Usually I bring you some statistical preview of the upcoming game, and this will sort of devolve into that, but instead of statistics about the game itself, this is really about just how embarrassing it would be for the Green Bay Packers to lose to the absolutely excremental excuse for an NFL team known as the Washington Commanders.
First, their owner is a caricature of a rich billionaire, publicly committing all kinds of malfeasance, from his defamation lawsuit against Dave McKenna for a comedic parody newspaper that devolved into Snyder accusing McKenna of antisemitism, to Snyder clearcutting the old growth trees behind his house in violation of local environmental and zoning laws, and against the wishes of his neighbors, to give him a better view of a river, to ALL of the sexual harassment, resulting in a $10,000,000 fine by the NFL. Snyder has also been accused of keeping two sets of books to cheat the NFL and the IRS, and when the owners recently threatened to oust him, he responded with a blackmail threat.
Sources: #Commanders owner Dan Snyder claims 'dirt' on NFL owners, Roger Goodell - “They can’t f— with me.”— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 13, 2022
Goodell “wants Snyder gone”
via @SethWickersham, @TishaESPN and @DVNJr from over 30 sources.https://t.co/VIap41ui6P
That’s not everything, just the big things.
Aside from all of that, the team is a complete disaster. Washington is an old-school archetype, failing to invest in draft research and scouting while being perfectly willing to buy high on high-profile free agents or poorly considered trades, as they did this offseason with quarterback Carson Wentz, sending a kings ransom in picks to the Colts for the highly compensated, highly mediocre quarterback. The team is careless with their draft picks, careless with the money, they rank 29th in points scored, and in the offseason, their defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who once had his punter accidentally chop his own leg with an ax as part of a motivational stunt, likely cost the team a new stadium by referring to the January 6th insurrection as a “dust up.”
And yet, there’s a good chance they win on Sunday against the Packers.
For starters, their defense is actually pretty good. They rank 11th in DVOA, and they’re especially good against the run, where they rank 5th. The Packers have struggled when throwing the ball outside the numbers, and perhaps that will change as the Commanders struggle with outside receivers, but if Aaron Rodgers is forced to work over the middle for efficient throws, as has been the case all season, he’ll find it quite hard. Safety Kamren Curl is currently the highest rated safety in football per PFF, while safety Darrick Forest ranks 5th! (They’ve both been outsnapped by safety Bobby McCain, who ranks 67th. It’s still Washington after all.)
The stellar play of their safeties has led to Washington having the 3rd best DVOA in football against tight ends, and while that may not sound terribly important for the Packers, there are two reasons it is:
1. Your play against tight ends is often indicative of your defense generally in the middle of the fields
2. Without Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan is more important than he usually is.
If the Packers try to lean on the run, they’ll find a tough road ahead of them. If the Packers try to rely on the short passing game, especially in the middle of the field, they’ll find it tough. Washington is weakest deep left, where offenses have an 87.7% DVOA (and where AAron Rodgers has struggled all season with his accuracy), and deep middle where offenses have a 195.7% DVOA. (If you can get it over the safeties, great, but in front of the safeties, in the short and medium middle, offenses have a -12.0% DVOA).
And on offense, where Washington is a tire fire, ranking 29th in both rushing and passing DVOA, they’ll face a Packer run defense that is dead last, as we’ve all seen. Antonio Gibson can be dangerous in the open field, and if Dean Lowry is still out there, and De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker are still randomly wandering around the secondary, he’ll have success.
Washington also gets a boost with a finger injury to Wentz, which will keep him out for a few weeks. Usually loosing your starting quarterback is death of a team, but Wentz has been atrocious by any an all metrics. He’s 30th in DYAR, 30th in DVOA, 30th in EPA/Play, and 30th in CPOE. Backup Taylor Heinecke isn’t exactly good, but he ranked 22nd in DVOA and DYAR last season, which is a colossal upgrade from what Wentz has been this year, and he’s a legitimate weapon with his legs. The difference between Heinecke’s DYAR last year and Wentz’s so far this year is roughly equivalent to the difference between Eagles’ starter Jalen Hurts and deposed Steeler’s backup Mitch Trubisky this year.
Star receiver Terry McLaurin has had rough year in terms of counting stats, as he’s been out-targeted by checkdown specialist Curtis Samuel, who averages a mere 8.4 yards per reception, or about the same as running back Antonio Gibson. With Heinecke taking over, McLaurin’s volume is likely to tick up, and if they can run the ball semi-effectively while getting McLaurin matched up over Eric Stokes repeatedly, well, we’ve seen this play before.
Washington is dumb, untalented, and evil. This isn’t just a test of the Packers’ intelligence, though it is very much that. It’s also a test of their simple desire to win. Any semi-competent team (and some incompetent ones) should annihilate the Commanders. The Lions beat them by 9, the Eagles won by 16, and it wasn’t that close, and the Cooper Rush-boys won by 15.
You don’t have to play exceptional to win this game, you need to get back to a normal game plan that you execute with normal efficiency. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’re there yet.