The 2023 NFL season has been a challenge for the Washington Commanders, who face their third losing season in the last four years under head coach Ron Rivera.
“This season has been pretty disappointing,” junior Shrey Desai said. “I expected them to be better than this season because it seemed like we were finally starting to put the pieces together.”
Being a Commanders fan since the age of six, Desai felt frustration with the team and their coaching staff on various occasions.
“This is constantly how I feel being a Commanders fan and especially this season,” Desai said. “After embarrassing losses to the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants twice, I’ve experienced a whole lot of disappointment already.”
According to NFL statistics, the Commanders’ defense has given up the most points over the season.
“How does this happen with a defense that has been one of the best units in the league for the past few years?” Desai asked. “The players on the team didn’t change drastically, so our failure on defense is mostly attributed to the coaching.”
This disappointment returned on November 23 when the Commanders lost to the Dallas Cowboys during the Thanksgiving rivalry game with a score of 45 to 10.
“It was a big disappointment to lose on Thanksgiving; we really just got killed that game,” senior Neala Austin said.
However, junior Aman Berhe predicted the game’s outcome and was not surprised by the 35 point loss.
“The Cowboys had just dismantled the Panthers and the Giants leading up to their meeting with the Commanders,” he said. “My confidence in the Washington defense was already little to none.”
Desai explained he felt the disappointment and embarrassment he has so often felt for this team after the Thanksgiving day loss, but then decided to change his mindset.
“Instead of dwelling too much on this particular game though, I chose to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family,” Desai said.
After this loss, the Washington Commanders revealed on social media in a quote by head coach Ron Rivera that they let go of their defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer.
“I think it was a good decision,” Austin said. “We started the season below expectations with our defense and Del Rio has been inconsistent.”
Desai agreed and had been awaiting a change in coaching the whole season.
“I’m ecstatic that we fired Jack Del Rio,” Desai said. “I feel like he rightfully shoulders a lot of the blame when it comes to this disappointing season.”
In a press conference after he was fired Del Rio said, “I did feel like change was necessary to shake some things up and get things moving forward.”
Though Del Rio himself believed the team required change, Berhe said he was not convinced that firing Del Rio was the change they needed.
“I think the problem with the Commander’s defense is evident in the player personnel,” Berhe said. “So, firing the defensive coordinator isn’t going to make much of a difference. Sam Howell is playing out of his mind right now and instead of trying to support him they went and traded their two best edge rushers for more lousy picks.”
Due to the recent changes in the player line-up, Berhe doesn’t expect the season to take a turn for the better.
“With the departure of Chase Young and Montez Sweat, the only decent part of Washington’s defense is gone and they will continue to allow 40-point games and get dog-walked for the rest of the season,” Berhe said.
With this fresh start for the Commanders, there are new expectations and hopes for future seasons.
Desai proposes a strategy to close out the disappointing season.
“The smart thing for us would be to tank the rest of our games to get a good draft pick,” Desai said. “However, this would be painful for me to watch as I would have to endure a bad level of play and deal with friends and family members who root for the opposing teams that we play for the rest of the season.”
Austin also awaits new talent with high hopes for the next season.
“Hopefully with new talent and all the experienced players, we can get better,” she said.