One of the more troubling trends during Ron Rivera’s time in Washington has been his team’s penchant for slow starts. Last season, the Commanders dropped four of their first five games to start the season. In 2021, Washington lost six of the eight opening games on the schedule. And in Rivera’s first season, the burgundy and gold lost six of seven.
Two games into the 2023 season, the Commanders once again appear content to make life more difficult on themselves. During their season opener, Arizona entered the fourth quarter with a 16-10 lead before the defense stepped up to seize the game for Washington. One week later, the Commanders looked completely jet lagged as Denver raced out to a far-too-easy 21-3 first half lead.
Fortunately for Rivera and friends, the entire Broncos roster appeared disinterested in playing past halftime — enabling Washington to rally from 18 points down to defeat Denver 35-33 at Empower Field at Mile High. The defense once again woke up after halftime and finished the day with seven sacks and two turnovers. On offense, Eric Bieniemy’s group was finally able to move the ball — scoring touchdowns on drives of 57, 75 and 64 yards — to turn momentum completely in favor of the visitors.
With the win, Washington improved to 2-0. But any objective observer should see the team’s lackadaisical approach to the first half is a recipe for disaster. Arizona and Denver are both giving off vibes of teams that will be in the bottom half of the league standings. Better opponents remain on the schedule and will have little trouble capitalizing on such a substantial head start.