Washington Commanders: Who benefits most from QB upgrade?

ASHBURN, VA - JUNE 16: Carson Wentz #11 of the Washington Commanders throws during the organized team activity at INOVA Sports Performance Center on June 16, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
ASHBURN, VA - JUNE 16: Carson Wentz #11 of the Washington Commanders throws during the organized team activity at INOVA Sports Performance Center on June 16, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Who benefits the most from the upgrade at the quarterback position for the Washington Commanders?

The Washington Commanders made an early move for a quarterback this offseason when they acquired Carson Wentz in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. This move didn’t go over particularly well with a lot of fans. Washington lost draft picks and took on a hefty one-year deal.

And Wentz isn’t exactly a superstar quarterback. He struggles with consistency at times (and no one is going to forget that stinker to end the season that saw the Colts miss the playoffs by losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars).

What everyone needs to remember is that while Wentz does have a number of flaws, he’s an upgrade. A very obvious upgrade too.

Last season saw Taylor Heinicke as Washington’s primary starter. Heinicke definitely has some positives in his game and is a phenomenal backup. But there are some clear limitations. His arm strength being the biggest one. Heinicke’s inability to throw the ball deep really hampered the offense.

Defenses weren’t afraid of deep balls being hit on them, because the QB couldn’t get the ball all that deep. This severely limited not only the fast receivers looking for deep routes but the short game as well.

With no threat of going deep, defenses could play a little tighter. So the run game didn’t have as much freedom, and the short routes didn’t get breathing room.

Wentz has his issues, but he does have the arm strength to chuck the ball down the field. And this is going to open up a lot of things for a lot of people. And if Sam Howell ends up taking over at QB, he has a strong arm as well.

Which player on the Washington Commanders offense does this benefit the absolute most though?

Terry McLaurin is going to get his no matter what. Yes, he’ll probably get a few more deep balls. But McLaurin is talented enough that he’s going to eat at all times. So he’s off the list.

The biggest options here are Dyami Brown, Jahan Dotson, Cam Sims, Curtis Samuel, and Antonio Gibson.

Sims is more of a role player in this offense. He’s a big body that can go up and get it but isn’t really a burner. So even if he does get an increase in playing time, he’ll likely have a role that doesn’t see him getting utilized all that often.

Dotson is a rookie, so we’re not counting him here. He could flourish very easily, but this is meant to be a benefit as opposed to last season. Obviously, he wasn’t on the Commanders last year. We’re going to stick with that same thinking for Curtis Samuel too.

Even though he was on the roster, injuries forced him to barely touch the field.

That leaves us with two really strong options – Brown and Gibson.

Brown had a rough rookie year with the Washington Commanders. He struggled with drops and route running was an issue. But something he excelled at in college was the deep game. Brown didn’t really get a chance to show that off in year one.

His route tree might get simplified a bit in year two with Wentz at QB. We could see him go for home runs much more often and hit on a few. That would immediately spike the production.

As for Gibson, he had a down year in 2021 after a promising rookie campaign. Fumbles were the most eye-catching problem. It wasn’t the only issue though. Gibson had far too many games where he was absolutely stifled on the ground, finishing with low yardage on a high amount of carries.

This isn’t all his fault though. Getting hit behind the line or at the line of scrimmage so often because defenses aren’t worried about deep balls wasn’t helping his case. Opening up the offense could definitely help make life a lot easier for the running back.

Brown could be saved from obscurity. Sure, it was only his rookie year – but it was rough. This feels bigger for Gibson though. Brown is competing with a lot of talent at wide receiver and might not get all that many targets (or even be on the field a majority of the time).

To be fair, Gibson won’t be on the field at all times either. J.D. McKissic will get his touches (especially on third down), and rookie Brian Robinson will likely get a share as well. That’s why this feels more important for Gibson though.

Brown is already slightly down the depth chart. He can get his numbers up but it’s hard to see him shooting up the depth chart.

Gibson has more to lose. The running back is already not in on most third downs due to McKissic. And with his struggles last year could lose even more time to Robinson. We’ve seen how good he can be though. And giving him a little less attention from the defense could do him wonders.

Gibson needs to have a good third season. The Washington Commanders having a more well-rounded offense should open up lanes and create less pressure for the running back. It’s hard to imagine he won’t be reaping the benefits of the QB upgrade.