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4 Commanders players most responsible for Week 2 loss vs. Lions

Washington Commanders, Commanders Week 2, Carson Wentz, Andrew Norwell, Charles Leno Jr., William Jackson III

The good vibes around the Washington Commanders didn’t last long. They never do. After an encouraging Week 1 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Commanders Week 2 loss to the Detroit Lions was disheartening. The Commanders have now played the teams with the two worst records in the league last season, barely beating one and losing to the other. Focusing on the Commanders Week 2 matchup, the players who should shoulder the most blame for the defeat are cornerback William Jackson III, offensive linemen Andrew Norwell and Charles Leno Jr., and, of course, quarterback Carson Wentz.

4. CB William Jackson III

The Detroit Lions won this game primarily on the back of star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. The third-year wideout put up 116 yards on nine catches (12 targets) and scored two touchdowns. He also had two carries for 68 yards. He scored the Lions’ first touchdown and the last one, helping Detroit cruise to a comfortable 36-27 victory.

Commanders CB William Jackson III wasn’t locked up on St. Brown one-on-one the entire game (Kendall Fuller didn’t do great against the pass-catcher either, but the WR seemed to be his responsibility more than anyone else’s.

On two of St. Brown’s big plays — one running, one passing — it looked as though it was William Jackson who dropped the ball and let the WR run free on his way to huge chunks of yards. It was also Jackson who St. Brown out-jumped in the end zone to score his first TD.

The Commanders Week 2 pass defense was a mess all around. The team allowed Jared Goff to go 20-of-34 for 256 yards with four TDs and no INTs. But it was Jackson who stood out as the weak link in that secondary more than anyone else.

And if the Commanders struggled this much with St. Brown, the team is in for an even bigger challenge in Week 3. That’s when Washington welcomes A.J. Brown and the Philadelphia Eagles to FedEx Field, which could be another long afternoon for the Commanders’ corners and safeties.

3 & 2. Andrew Norwell and Charles Leno Jr.

Usually, these lists of the players who are at fault for a team’s loss are three players long. However, when looking at the Commanders Week 2 loss, you can’t simply isolate one Washington offensive lineman.

That’s just not fair because Lions rookie No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson absolutely dominated the entire left side of Carson Wentz’s offensive line. The former Michigan Wolverine didn’t just have his first NFL sack in this game. He had his first, second, and third. And that was just in the first half!

Lions coach Dan Campbell lined Hutchinson up on the outside at defensive end and at defensive tackle at times to rush the passer. Whether he lined up against Charles Leno Jr. on the outside of Andrew Norwell on the inside, Hutchinson came away the winner more times than not.

The Commanders made some adjustments at halftime to slow the rookie down. However, these moves necessitated a running back staying in, a tight end chipping, or Wentz throwing short, quick passes.

Maybe we’ll look back at this game in 20 years at Aidan Hutchinson’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony and give 3 Andrew Norwell and Charles Leno Jr. a break for this game. For now, though, these two got schooled by a rookie in his second game, and that’s a problem.

1. QB Carson Wentz

The “see Colts fans, Carson Wentz wasn’t the problem” crowd (myself included) has a little less to crow about after the Commanders Week 2 loss.

Wentz’s former team is still a train wreck, but the Commanders QB didn’t look like quite the world-beater he did in Week 1.

The stats weren’t bad — 30-of-46, 337 yards, three touchdowns, one interception — but with Carson Wentz, they rarely are.

In fact, the QB is setting NFL and Washington franchise records by throwing for over 300 yards and completing three-plus TD passes in his first two starts with a new team.

It’s the little things that are the issue for the Commanders QB, though. For example, the Washington offense didn’t get its first 1st-down until its sixth possession. Wentz also threw a bad pick on a two-point conversion to get within six points in the fourth quarter.

In the end, it was simply typical Carson Wentz. He is a QB that looks great getting off the bus and excels on 1st- and 2nd-down between the 20-yard lines. But on the money down and in the money zones, Wentz is anything but money.

This is a reality that the Commanders will have to deal with throughout the season as the franchise navigates through the Carson Wentz Era.

Against the Eagles in Week 3, the Commanders now have to play better in these three specific areas — quarterback, offensive line, and secondary — or they risk their season starting to slip away by losing to a division foe.