Commanders

Wentz appeared at ease in preseason debut for Commanders

Commanders

Carson Wentz didn't do anything out of the ordinary in his preseason debut for the Commanders.

And for him and for Washington, that's a solid step in the right direction.

On Saturday against the Carolina Panthers, in an eventual 23-21 loss, Wentz and the starting offense appeared rather comfortable, and most importantly, they capped their afternoon with a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that spanned seven minutes and 35 seconds. The only big blemish was an Antonio Gibson fumble, which is an issue that deserves its own story.

Wentz's numbers — 10 completions for 73 yards on 13 attempts — aren't all that gaudy. However, the number of Commanders he got involved is.

While under center, Wentz connected with Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, J.D. McKissic, Brian Robinson Jr., Armani Rogers and Curtis Hodges. He didn't have Logan Thomas (or Cole Turner, or John Bates) at his disposal at tight end, and he didn't link up with Jahan Dotson.

When those players begin to factor in, he'll have even more options to rely on.

Wentz has run into trouble (and possibly run himself out of town) in his previous stops when he tried to go above and beyond his duties on a given snap in an effort to create a ridiculous highlight when a checkdown or a throwaway would do.

That's what was encouraging about his exhibition debut for Washington on Saturday: He kept the operation on schedule, hit his guys in stride, avoided setbacks — and seemed content with it all, too.

 

After a three-and-out and the Gibson turnover, a hint of uneasiness mixed in with the light breeze that was blowing at FedEx Field. Fortunately, offensive coordinator Scott Turner's unit woke up to quell the angst.

Yes, Carolina had inserted its backup defense at that point, but what matters is that the Commanders found success against an unfamiliar opponent. If they didn't, sports radio in the DMV next week would've been... intriguing. 

To get going, Wentz chucked a dart to McLaurin for 16 yards. A penalty on one third-down play kept the possession alive, and a later completion to Samuel on another third down did, too. 

A sweet catch-and-run from McKissic advanced the ball deep into Panthers territory, and eventually, Robinson Jr. was the one to finish it off, as he busted in on a one-yard touchdown run.

Wentz's training camp performance has (understandably) been scrutinized, yet he has been better over the past week or so with his accuracy and his chemistry with his primary pass catchers.

Saturday was a continuation of that trend, an afternoon that Ron Rivera can point to as evidence that Wentz doesn't have to be a hero for Washington.

Sure, the club acquired Wentz to raise its offensive ceiling, but it's not an objective he has to aim for on every dropback. If he can perform like he did versus Carolina for the majority of his stint with the franchise while mixing in an upper-echelon sequence on a couple of occasions each game, this partnership will be beneficial for both sides.