The NFC East is currently the toast of the NFL. The division houses the league's remaining undefeated team, as well as two other four-win squads. The Cowboys have a formidable defense, the Giants just stunned the Packers in London, and the Eagles put together a nice road win over a desperate Cardinals team. And then you have the Washington Commanders, who are 1-4 and lost on Sunday with a brutal ending.
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera was asked about the gulf between his team and the rest of the division at today's presser, and he instantly diagnosed the issue: "Quarterback." Rivera unconvincingly clarified that he was not saying his quarterback Carson Wentz sucks, even though he does, but that the other NFC East teams have had more time to build around their QBs. The Cowboys' situation would be an obvious rejoinder to this explanation, but Rivera said that their success with backup Cooper Rush speaks to the system they built around injured starter Dak Prescott. (That excuse feels like Rivera offering up a strike against himself.) When asked whether he regretted the team's choice to trade for Carson Wentz—a decision he was instrumental in making—Rivera said he did not.
What about those "good things" Rivera credited to Wentz? The QB does have the fourth-most passing yards in the league, despite an offensive line with a real flair for letting opposing pass-rushers crunch his body. When afforded time and space in the pocket, he is capable of making incredible throws. He threw an astonishingly bad pick to seal Sunday's loss to the Titans. Following a penalty that put the Commanders at first-and-goal on the two-yard line with 18 seconds left, the team didn't have the luxury of trying to run the ball, as they had no more timeouts. So they dialed up three consecutive pass plays, and after doing his level best to throw an interception on first and then second down, Wentz finally succeeded.
Given those final three plays, it would be fair for Rivera to call out Wentz like that if they were part of a healthy and well-structured organization that could handle and even possibly benefit from this kind of candor and transparency. Too bad the Commanders are the opposite of that.