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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Manning

Commanders PFF grades: Best and worst performers vs. Cowboys in Week 18

The Washington Commanders’ 2023 season is over after Sunday’s 38-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Washington finished 4-13, losing eight consecutive games to end the season and clinched the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

On Monday, Washington fired head coach Ron Rivera after seasons. Shortly after dismissing Rivera, owner Josh Harris wasted no time in searching for his replacement, for a head of football operations and a head coach.

As we wrap up a disappointing 2023 season for the Commanders, let’s look back at Washington’s grades against the Cowboys, per Pro Football Focus. Several Commanders’ starters didn’t play in the season finale.

Top 5 offense

Curtis Samuel #4 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
  • WR Curtis Samuel: 70.4
  • WR Terry McLaurin: 69.9
  • RB Antonio Gibson: 68.8
  • C Nick Gates: 63.6
  • RB Brian Robinson Jr: 61.2

There were other players higher than Gates and Robinson, but they all played less than 10 snaps. As you can see, it was a rough game from an offensive perspective for the Commanders. This was perhaps Samuel’s and Gibson’s last game with Washington.

Top 5 defense

Washington Commanders safety Jartavius Martin (20) breaks up a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3). Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
  • DB Quan Martin: 76.6
  • DT Abdullah Anderson: 71.5
  • LB David Mayo: 71.3
  • LB Khaleke Hudson: 65.5
  • S Sean Chandler: 59.7

Washington went with a lot of three-linebacker sets again, and Mayo played quite a bit. Hudson was impressive again. It was another week he led the team in tackles, and he was active in coverage and in the run game. Hudson’s effort is a reason he should be brought back by the next regime. Martin was terrific until he was unfortunately injured in the second quarter. He really began to blossom over the final eight weeks. He is a keeper.

Bottom 5 offense

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • LG Saahdiq Charles: 48.1
  • LT Cornelius Lucas: 47.0
  • RG Sam Cosmi: 46.7
  • QB Sam Howell: 44.3
  • TE John Bates: 36.0

It was another rough day for Washington’s offensive line. The left side particularly had a bad day. You can bet the Commanders will have a new left tackle and left guard next season. Left guard and center were the weakest two positions on the O-Line all season. Cosmi has been outstanding, but this wasn’t his best performance. Washington has its right guard of the future in Cosmi.

Bottom 5 defense

Washington Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne (94). Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • DT John Ridgeway: 49.5
  • DT Phidarian Mathis: 43.7
  • CB Benjamin St-Juste: 42.5
  • CB Kyu Blu Kelly: 40.1
  • DT Daron Payne: 38.9

It’s difficult to see Payne graded so lowly. I don’t necessarily think that’s always accurate, although he and Jonathan Allen played below expectations this season. St-Juste wasn’t as bad as he’d been in other games. Mathis and Ridgeway struggled. As you can tell, Dallas’ offensive line dominated this game.

Other notable grades

Jahan Dotson #1 of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
  • TE Logan Thomas: 57.7
  • WR Jahan Dotson: 57.3
  • RT Trent Scott: 55.6
  • LB Cody Barton: 56.5
  • CB Emmanuel Forbes: 54.6

It was good to see Dotson get some targets, but it proved too little too late. When you start wanting to name bounce-back candidates for 2024, Dotson should top the list. Scott has done an admirable job at right tackle over the last couple of weeks.

Barton gets lost and reacts too slow so often. He won’t be back in 2024. Forbes capped off a rough rookie season with another bad day. His PFF grade doesn’t reflect his performance. His effort on at least two tackle attempts was not ideal. And he was lost in coverage on one touchdown and late on another.

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