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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Dan Benton

Behind Enemy Lines: Week 11 Q&A with Commanders Wire

The New York Giants (2-8) and Washington Commanders (4-6) will square off on Sunday afternoon in a Week 11 matchup at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

The Giants opened the week as 10-point road underdogs but that spread has softened a tiny bit since then. As of this writing, New York is +9.5.

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With this matchup on tap, Giants Wire took the opportunity to hold a Q&A with Commanders Wire managing editor Bryan Manning.

Sam Howell looks like a different QB than the one we saw in Week 7. What's led to an improvement in his game?

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Manning: Through the first seven games, Howell was up and down, typical for a young quarterback. His biggest issue was taking too many sacks. Some of that was his fault, some was on the offensive line, and some on OC Eric Bieniemy.

In those seven games, Howell flashed a ton of good, such as performance against the Eagles, and games at Denver and the first half at Atlanta. But over the last three games, Howell has cut the sacks down. Some of that was due to the change at center, and some credit goes to Bieniemy and the rest to Howell. He’s sped up his processing. While there will be ups and downs, the Commanders may have finally found their guy.

Nick Gates will forever be a Giants fan favorite but his Washington career has not gone well. Why was he benched and how's he handling it?

Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Nick Gates wasn’t terrible, but of all games, it was his game against the Giants that led to his benching. Tyler Larsen has about 25-30 pounds on Gates, and that stoutness has been good for Howell. As far as comparing the two, Larsen hasn’t been a dramatic upgrade, except before the snap. I am not sure if Gates gets back in the lineup this season unless there is an injury. As far as how he’s handling it, as you guys know, Gates is a true pro and seems to be popular with his teammates.

Is Ron Rivera in the final stretch as head coach of the Commanders and if so, do you believe that is warranted?

Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Most definitely. Ron Rivera is finished, and he knows it. Every time he talks, it’s like he’s making excuses for the past few years. Look, he has dealt with a lot, but he can’t blame Dan Snyder for the roster issues at specific positions. This is his roster.

Howell is an excellent find, but Washington’s top players, outside of Kam Curl and perhaps Howell, Brian Robinson and Jahan Dotson, are from the Jay Gruden era. Rivera’s approach will never lead to big-time success in this era of football.

The Commanders have a massive amount of cap space and five picks in the first three rounds, so next year, they could look a lot different.

How does the Washington defense compensate for the losses of Chase Young and Montez Sweat?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

While the Commanders miss Chase Young and Montez Sweat, it’s not that noticeable. And that’s sad. Washington would have loved to retain Sweat, but that deal was too good to pass up. As for Young, both sides needed a change. How will they compensate? What Jack Del Rio should do, is play rookie DEs KJ Henry and Andre Jones Jr. more. See what you have in those two. The defense was bad before and remains bad now.

The Giants usually take care of business against Washington but will that happen on Sunday?

Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

What’s really weird is how the Giants seem to have Washington’s number, and the Commanders seem to have Philly’s, or, at least, always push the Eagles to the limit. It would be in Washington’s best interest to lose out. That’s not going to happen. I think the Commanders win this game and it’s not overly close.

Commanders 27, Giants 12

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