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The Washington Commanders came out firing against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and rode a hot start to a 28-22 opening day victory. Washington scored on their first two possessions of the home game for the first time since 1991. That’s not a typo, they haven’t done it since George Herbert Walker Bush was President.

They also didn’t score on an opening drive last year, until Week 13.

The Commanders may not have been perfect, but they gave the Fed Ex crowd plenty to cheer about, and did enough to come away with the win.

Here are some of the positives and negatives from the game.

Positives:

Curtis Samuel

Probably the biggest surprise of the opener was the effectiveness of Side field Samuel. He may dump that moniker quickly if he continues to play like he did on Sunday. He wasn’t just good, he was exceptional. Can he stay healthy? Hopefully. But if he does, he looks like he can be a bona fide weapon. He certainly flashed all the traits that Washington saw in him when they signed him in the first place. He had 8 receptions for 55 yards, and also scored one of the Commanders’ four touchdowns. He also had four carries for 17 yards, but lost a fumble in his only real negative play of the game.

Carson Wentz

He was a bit Jekkyl and Hyde, but the good part was good. Wentz completed 27 of his 41 pass attempts for 313 yards, and threw four touchdowns. Those are good numbers for most NFL quarterbacks. It wasn’t all good (see Negatives) but he made a decent showing in his debut. He displayed some of the qualities that make him an upgrade from many of the quarterbacks that Washington have employed in the last decade.

Jahan Dotson

The rookie only caught three balls, but two of them were touchdowns, including the game winner. He showed his big-game ability, and also showed that he can take pressure off of WR1 Terry McLaurin. No Washington rookie wide receiver has ever scored two touchdowns in their debut. It’s only one game, but he looks well worth the 16th overall pick.

Dotson Victory Monday

Darrick Forest

Filling in for Kamren Curl, Forrest had easily his best game as a pro. He intercepted Lawrence in the dying moments to seal the victory, and he also forced a fumble on running back Travis Etienne with a thunderous hit in the first half. Additionally, he broke up a Jags two-point conversion attempt.

Negatives:

Carson Wentz

While Wentz’ performance overall would fall on the side of good, there were some things to wonder aloud about. Two interceptions are never good, but the second one was a terrible decision on his part. At this point in his career, it would seem that this is just Carson, but it’d be nice to see him learn to pull that one down and eat it, when it just isn’t there.

Defense

While the Commanders managed to keep Trevor Lawrence largely in check, the Jaguars did manage to run rough shod over the defense for much of the game. The Jags finished with 123 yards rushing – which doesn’t look awful – but it was a lofty 6.8 yards per carry. Washington’s run defense will want to get it dialed in before facing Detroit’s D’Andre Swift next weekend, who ran up 144 yards against the Eagles yesterday.

The Commanders did manage to hold the Jaguars to three third-down conversions on 12 attempts, which was a tremendous improvement from 2021.

Turnovers

Wentz’ two interceptions and Samuels fumble could have been a losing recipe. Until Sunday, Washington had lost 34 consecutive games when they turned the ball over three times. Fortunately for the Commanders, they did enough good things to nullify the impact of those turnovers.

Post Game

In the dressing room after the game, Coach Ron Rivera gave the game ball to Wentz and said, “For everything he has gone through, and for everything that he has worked for, he deserved this win.”

And the quarterback had some poignant words for his teammates:

“It isn’t always going to be pretty in this league. But you find a way to dig deep and get it done in the end, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Week 1 Final Score

 

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