Robert Griffin III and a few of his ESPN coworkers on Monday engaged in a Twitter discussion about the Commanders. Griffin, who led the franchise to the postseason in 2012, tweeted that the Commanders are in good position to make the playoffs and have the potential to be a Super Bowl contender.
But what does this depend on? The play of quarterback Carson Wentz, of course.
Griffin thinks that if Wentz repeats his solid — but inconsistent — 2021 season that Washington is a playoff contender. But if he returns to his 2017 self — a version of Wentz that put him in MVP contention and led the Eagles to the No. 1 seed in the NFC — that the Commanders would compete for a championship.
“Depends on which Carson Wentz they get this year,” Griffin responded to ESPN’s Booger McFarland. “Carson from last year puts them in playoff contention. MVP level Carson from 2017 makes them Super Bowl Contenders.”
The Twitter conversation began with Griffin, who now works as an analyst for ESPN, replying to Adam Schefter’s tweet that tight end Logan Thomas was activated off the physically unable to perform list.
“Washington has a lot of weapons on offense,” the former first-round pick posted with the eyes emoji.
But McFarland isn’t as impressed, mostly with Wentz, who the Commanders traded two Day 2 draft picks to acquire this offseason.
“None of which reside at the quarterback position,” McFarland shot back.
That’s when Griffin responded with his take that the Commanders’ fate depends heavily on which type of Wentz takes the field on Sundays.
Last season, Wentz ranked ninth in the NFL in ESPN’s QBR. He completed 62.4% of his passes for 3,563 yards and 27 touchdowns versus only seven interceptions. But his inconsistency was criticized throughout the campaign, especially after Indianapolis’ Week 18 loss to the Jaguars that cost the Colts a playoff spot. However, 2021 was still a bounce-back campaign for the former first-round pick, who threw a league-high 15 interceptions in 12 disastrous games with the Eagles in 2020.
While Wentz was solid last season and is an upgrade compared to Washington’s 2021 starter Taylor Heinicke, part of the intrigue with him is that he’s shown his upside in multiple NFL seasons. In 2017 and 2018, Wentz was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but both seasons were derailed by injuries.
His best season is considered to be 2017, when Wentz led Philadelphia to an 11-2 record before his season ended due to a torn ACL. Wentz was a serious MVP candidate at the time, and despite missing the final three games of the season, he still finished third in NFL MVP voting. Nick Foles went on to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory that season.
The Commanders are coming off a 7-10 season and a third-place finish in the NFC East. Most sportsbooks have the team’s over/under win total at 8.5.
• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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