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Report: Commanders Players Frustrated with Scott Turner's Predictable Play-Calling

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 7, 2023

Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner arrives for practice at the team's NFL football training facility, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Washington Commanders players appear dissatisfied with offensive coordinator Scott Turner's play-calling amid the team's four-game winless streak, which has knocked them out of playoff contention.

Sam Fortier of the Washington Post spoke with a host of players who aren't happy as the once-promising season hit its low point last Sunday with a 24-10 home loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"Nine other Commanders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about a coach, expressed frustration with the play-calling. They complained about predictability, an abandonment of the game plan against Cleveland and Turner's tendency to deviate from plays that are working, which several players described as the coordinator "outsmarting" himself. They suggested Browns defenders had anticipated their plays in the loss that effectively ended the Commanders' season."

An unnamed veteran, when asked why the team lacked a spark during the Commanders' most recent defeat, responded by saying: "Ask the play-caller."

Tight end Logan Thomas recently told reporters the team should be scoring more points with the amount of talent on board.

"The way I put it is: We got so much talent, we should be scoring more points than we have [been]."

One notable example occurred in the Washington Commanders' 20-12 home loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 18, a pivotal matchup against a fellow NFC East team fighting for a playoff spot.

Commanders rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. amassed 89 yards on 12 carries in the game. It seemed as though Washington could have kept feeding Robinson the rock with more success against what is now the second-worst run defense in football.

That didn't happen, and Robinson told reporters later in the week: "I just got to play; I can't coach. Even when I do get frustrated about play-calling, that's not my job, so, regardless of how I feel during the game over certain plays, I just got to be where my feet are."

Players also put some of the blame on Turner for the Browns loss.

"Several players argued that Turner had abandoned the game plan, which the team had practiced all week, in favor of drop-back passing and running concepts that at times became predictable. One example was that in two- and three-tight end sets, Washington ran the ball 21 of 26 times (81 percent), and the Browns, one of the league's worst run defenses, caught on."

Football Outsiders ranks the offense 28th in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). The team is also 25th in scoring and posted more than 23 points just once since the first two weeks of the year.

The blame doesn't fall on Turner alone.

The offensive line simply hasn't fared well pass-blocking and ranks 10th-worst in the league in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.

Quarterback play has been hit-or-miss, with the high of a 5-1 stretch under Taylor Heinecke and the low of Wentz's three interceptions against the Browns. The team has averaged just 192.9 passing yards per game since Week 3.

Still, the team has plenty of offensive talent with the two-headed running back tandem of Robinson and Antonio Gibson, a bona fide No. 1 wideout in Terry McLaurin and a couple other dynamic pass-catchers in Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel.

However, the offense simply didn't come through when it needed to the most, and now rookie quarterback Sam Howell will get a shot to show what he can do to close the regular season on Sunday against the Cowboys.