ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera said he had no regrets about trading for quarterback Carson Wentz, adding that now they need to keep building around him.
Rivera said the difference between his 1-4 Commanders and the rest of the NFC East teams, who are all 4-1 or better, came down to quarterback.
“The truth is that this is a quarterback-driven league,” Rivera said. “And if you look at the teams that have been able to sustain success, they’ve been able to build it around a specific quarterback.”
Washington traded two draft picks in the offseason to acquire Wentz, giving up a second-round pick in this past draft and a conditional pick in 2023 that could become a second based on play time.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia (Jalen Hurts), New York (Daniel Jones) and Dallas (Dak Prescott) all entered the season with the same starting quarterback as 2021. Washington has started six quarterbacks in two-plus seasons under Rivera, who is 15-21.
Rivera said his point was that the other teams in the division all have built around their quarterbacks. Dallas, though, has won four in a row with Cooper Rush starting for the injured Prescott. Rivera said Rush, who has been with Dallas since 2020, plays well within what the Cowboys want to run offensively.
The Giants, who went a combined 10-23 the past two years, have a new coach in Brian Daboll and declined to pick up Jones’ fifth-year option. They also were widely considered the worst team in the division entering the season — and rallied to beat Green Bay on Sunday despite missing their top receivers.
The Eagles have gone from 6-10 in 2020 to 9-8 last season and 5-0 this year. Hurts has been the full-time starter the past two seasons.
Wentz hasn’t been the primary reason Washington has struggled. He threw four touchdown passes in a season-opening win vs. Jacksonville and threw three in the second half the following week in a comeback that fell short in Detroit.
Wentz is tied for fifth in the NFL with 10 touchdown passes, but tied for third with six interceptions. He ranks 24th in total QBR at 38.0 — two spots ahead of Denver’s Russell Wilson and three in front of Indianapolis’ Matt Ryan, two other veterans who changed teams this offseason.
“I’ve got no regrets about our quarterback,” Rivera said. “I think our quarterback has done some good things. There’s been a couple games that he’s struggled, but the way he performed [Sunday] it just shows you what he’s capable of. We chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed toward him.”
Wentz threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He also threw an interception on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line with six seconds remaining.
“We’ve got a guy that we think we have a chance to build around,” Rivera said. “We have a guy that is really growing in what we’re doing. I thought yesterday was a good indicator of his potential for us in this, and we’ll continue to work with it.”
Washington’s offensive line has been banged up. The Commanders have started three centers and were missing 60% of their original starters Sunday. They did not adequately replace departed guards Ereck Flowers (cut) and Brandon Scherff (free agent).
But the Commanders do have a solid receiving corps with Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson.
“We have some pretty good pieces in place,” Rivera said. “I’d like to have them all on the field at the same time. We don’t, we can’t, so this is the lot we have, so we have to go out and play.”