Wentz quickly developing great chemistry with Dotson

Wentz and Dotson split

Once is a chance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern.

That age-old expression can be used to describe many things in life. But for the Washington Commanders, it's certainly applicable when discussing the newfound connection between quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Jahan Dotson.

Dotson, Washington's first-round pick in April, has quickly become Wentz's go-to target during 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills in OTAs -- especially as standout Terry McLaurin continues to hold out due to contract negotiations. The Wentz-Dotson connection has been a common theme during all three OTA sessions the media contingent was allowed present for this month. The chemistry is impossible to miss.

"He catches the football as natural as anybody I've been around, just how natural he plucks it out of the air," Wentz said Wednesday following practice. "I got a lot of high expectations for him just as a rookie to just continue to keep growing, learning and understanding the bigger picture of this game. I think he's doing a really good job of where he is at right now."

The chemistry between Wentz and Dotson has seemed to grow by the week. Last Wednesday, the rookie made the play-of-the-day at OTAs, hauling in a 40-plus-yard TD dart from Wentz down the middle of the field, a perfectly thrown ball in between two defenders. It was just one of the multiple plays No. 11 and No. 1 were able to connect on.


That connection trickled over into this week, too. On the first play of the second period of 11-on-11 drills, Dotson made quick work of Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller on a crossing route. Wentz found his top target wide open in the middle of the field for a considerable gain. Just a couple of plays later, Wentz found a wide-open Dotson, once again, down the right sideline for another chunk play.

Fuller has been tasked with guarding Dotson at times throughout OTAs. He's been plenty impressed by Washington's first-round pick.

"With Jahan, he has a sense of comfort that he comes out here with, his comfort, his confidence, his talent," Fuller said. "He went first round for a reason. But [I've noticed] definitely how comfortable and confident he's been coming out here."

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Fuller, who graded out as a top-five cornerback in 2021 by Pro Football Focus, has been particularly pleased with Dotson's ability to add subtle changes to his routes in an attempt to trick defensive backs. Fuller was the a first-hand recipient of such this week.

"I told [defensive backs] coach [Chris] Harris [on Wednesday]: [Jahan] ran a route yesterday and then came off and [today] he kind of sold the same route with a little flavor at the top," Fuller said. "Just to have that mindset that 'I went against Kendall and I ran this route. Let me make it look the same way to have a counter off of it for the same thing.' That's something the good wide receivers have. They always know things like that."

Following Washington's first OTA practice in late May, Dotson made it a goal to prioritize the learning aspect of the NFL game throughout the spring. Part of that meant picking the brain of his new quarterback.

"I'm just getting to know [Wentz] every single day, learning more and more about him," Dotson said May 24. "So that's kind of my job during these OTAs is just to be a sponge and learn as much as possible - so I'm definitely going to be in his ear learning as much as possible from him."

So far, so good.

Not only has Dotson seemed to have picked up the playbook well, but he's continuously making plays on the field every time he's out there.

"I think Jahan has done a really nice job coming in and focusing in on his development and growth as a football player for us," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Learning his assignments, understanding what we're doing on the offensive schemes. I do think he's developed a very good rapport with our quarterbacks in general.


"You guys don't get to see it all the time, but you watch him [and] it doesn't matter who's throwing the ball," Rivera continued. "The guy has an ability to put himself in position to make plays. So it's been good to watch. It's been a lot of fun."

The connection between Wentz and Dotson has not only caught the eye of the offensive coaches. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has seen Washington's vast improvement on offense as well, specifically praising the work from Wentz and Dotson.

"I think one thing we can all see: Our offense is going to be better," Del Rio said. "We've greatly improved the quarterback room. Carson has been tremendous. [We added] a draft pick [Dotson] as well. Taylor [Heinicke] coming back -- we've got a really strong quarterback room. I think it starts there. Jahan has been outstanding. I'm talking about the other side of the ball, but we're excited about what we're seeing as a team."

Defensive tackle and team captain Jonathan Allen has been impressed by the early returns from Dotson as well.

"Great hands. That boy doesn't drop anything," Allen told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "I'm excited for him, man. He just comes in every day, works hard and fits right in with the culture."

In the Wentz-Dotson connection, it's not just the rookie who's stood out. Washington's new veteran signal-caller has flashed his talent throughout OTAs. Sure, he'll misfire on a throw here or there, but the skill set Wentz brings to the table is hard not to like.

"I really like his command of our offense," Rivera said. "When you listen to him in the huddle, you listen to him talk to his teammates about certain aspects of the play. He gets it and seeing him getting his teammates lined up and communicating is I think a real positive for us. I know it gives me confidence, but when he is in the huddle calling the plays the way he does, I know his teammates can feel the confidence."

With training camp and the 2022 regular season still months away, Wentz, Dotson and the rest of Washington's offense has plenty of time to work on its chemistry together. But if OTAs are any indication of what's to come, the connection between Wentz and Dotson will be a fun sight for Commanders fans come Sundays this fall.

"He's awesome. He's a quiet kid, young kid, but he's a hard worker," Wentz said of Dotson. "He's smart, he's instinctual. ... Definitely [over] the last couple weeks [we've] kind of started to develop a little chemistry. Hopefully we can keep building on that come next week and then in training camp."