The Washington Commanders have entered 2023 OTAs with two glaring questions: Where do things stand with Chase Young following his declined fifth-year option, plus how is the quarterback situation really shaking out?
Head coach Ron Rivera helped answer the first one on Wednesday — especially in the wake of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s message to Young.
Washington Commanders Rumors: What Will Happen With Chase Young?
Speaking with the D.C. media, Rivera began by addressing Young’s current absence.
“Well, you’d always love to have all your guys here,” Rivera began. “But again, it’s voluntary. We understand that. And the nice thing, though, is that we’ve been in contact.” (Rivera included that the Commanders are in contact with Montez Sweat, who was also a no-show for OTAs).
Rivera then revealed he’s had a text exchange with Young and says the EDGE understands his current situation. “He gets it. He understands,” Rivera said.
But then Rivera gave his next prediction once he sees the 6’5″, 265-pound rusher.
“I really believe he’s going to come in and give us everything he’s got,” Rivera said.
Rivera included he doesn’t disagree with Del Rio’s message to Young, which is the DC saying the league is a “production-based business, and you’ve got to produce.”
Rivera added: “Our intent is to keep our guys — guys who produce for us. We want them to be around. We want them to be a part of what we’re doing. That’s been the message, and I believe he has adapted to it.”
Young has only started in 11 combined games since winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020. He’s been limited to 1.5 sacks the last two seasons after snatching 7.5 in his first season. Young will become a free agent in 2024.
QB Situation and Eric Bieniemy’s Presence
Sam Howell became QB1 before voluntary workouts began. But can he hang onto it?
While Washington repeatedly has stated Howell is the top passer for the Commanders’ offense, there’s still the belief from analysts that veteran Jacoby Brissett can make a push beginning now.
“Sam Howell seems like the odds-on favorite to win the job, especially after the Commanders opted not to draft a quarterback, pursue Derek Carr or Lamar Jackson during free agency. The addition of Jacoby Brissett, who is more than capable of starting, will push Howell and could play himself into the starting role,” wrote Nathanial Marrero of FanNation’s Commander Country.
Lastly, NFL.com’s Marc Sessler called it a situation where the Commanders are “crossing their fingers at quarterback” while also pointing out how Washington’s decision not to draft a QB cements the case Howell is the guy.
However, Howell and Brissett now have a multiple Super Bowl champion to work with in new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy who’s in his first voluntary sessions with his new team. Reports are that the former Kansas City Chiefs OC has already developed a commanding presence on the field — to the point where Rivera helped verbally illustrate Bieniemy as one taking on head coaching duties during this period.
“I gave him the opportunity to script a lot of things we’re doing, handling all the scheduling,” Rivera said. “That’s why things are different, that’s why we’re not on the field already, because of some of the things he wanted to change and wanted to work on.”
Rivera adds how “EB” is a “high-energy, high-impact guy. he doesn’t pull any punches, he’s very direct with the players, which is good.”
Washington Endures ‘Big Blow’ at Offensive Spot
Unfortunately for Bieniemy and Rivera, they’ll be without one of their veteran tight ends moving forward.
Armani Rogers suffered what Rivera called a non-contact Achilles injury on the first day of OTAs. Rogers, a former college football quarterback who’s transitioning to tight end, has an uncertain timetable for a return.
Commanders insider for the Washington Post, Nicki Jhabvala, still calls his loss a significant one.
“This is a pretty big blow to Rogers and Washington’s TEs corps. Rogers is still fairly new to the position and went undrafted last year, but quickly emerged as a potential key piece of the offense,” Jhabvala said.
Washington has John Bates, Curtis Hodges, Cole Turner, and Logan Thomas (another past quarterback) remaining in the TE room.