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Late Sunday afternoon, after a humiliating loss that successfully ended the Washington Commanders’ season, just a few of the followers who’d stayed spied quarterback Carson Wentz working off the sector. They sprinted down the steps of the decrease bowl at FedEx Discipline to hitch a small crowd that had gathered above the tunnel to the locker room. They waited till Wentz bought shut.

Wentz didn’t search for. His expression didn’t change. Nevertheless it was unimaginable for him to not have heard the group’s frustration within the 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday. On the Commanders’ first drive of the day, Wentz threw an interception on his second throw, and followers broke right into a chant for backup Taylor Heinicke. They did it at the least 4 extra occasions all through the afternoon.

Commanders’ playoff hopes finish following an unpleasant loss to the Browns

“It’s a part of soccer,” Wentz mentioned, including: “I’ve seen rather a lot in my seven years and skilled rather a lot. I get it. I didn’t have my greatest day right this moment. I want it could have [gone] otherwise. I really feel like I let a few of my teammates down there early within the recreation and put us in a gap a bit bit. However that’s a part of soccer.”

Did the chants have an effect on you?

“[I] attempt to not [let it],” he mentioned.

By many measures, this was Washington’s worst offensive efficiency of the season in addition to the 24-8 drubbing at Dallas in Week 4. It was a disastrous finish to the guess Coach Ron Rivera made after a short, promising exhibiting by Wentz within the loss at San Francisco. In opposition to the Browns, the quarterback completed 16-for-28 passing (57.1 %) for 143 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He additionally took three sacks, all of which took 2.4 seconds or longer, in keeping with TruMedia.

“I assumed he had his moments,” Rivera mentioned, declaring the crew put collectively a 21-play, 96-yard drive earlier than halftime to attain its solely landing. He famous that, on Wentz’s first interception, he wanted to throw the ball earlier, and on the second, he wanted to place extra zip on it.

“He held the ball a pair occasions when he in all probability may have gotten it out and doubtless ought to have gotten it out,” Rivera added. “We’ve simply bought to proceed to work on that.”

Within the opposing locker room, the Browns appeared unsurprised by Wentz’s struggles. A number of defenders, together with finish Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Reggie Ragland, mentioned they’d preached all week that, if their protection may cease the run on first and second down, it could drive Wentz to throw on third and lengthy, conditions by which he struggles.

Cleveland, regardless of having one of many league’s worst run defenses, largely executed the plan. Washington struggled to be higher than common working the ball on early downs, and despite the fact that it confronted loads of manageable third downs — the common distance to transform was 6.1 yards, its fifth shortest of the 12 months — the Browns’ cross rush battered Wentz and appeared to have an effect on his decision-making.

“As soon as we get him rattled within the pocket, it’s over,” Clowney mentioned, including: “Coming in, we mentioned, ‘If we are able to get him rattled, we are able to get some turnovers out of him.’ Like, we knew that.”

“If soccer, [Wentz] has a sluggish launch, and Heinicke will get the ball out quick,” Ragland mentioned. “A few of the guys I do know on the crew” — Ragland performed faculty soccer at Alabama with Commanders receiver Cam Sims and defensive deal with Jonathan Allen — “they might’ve most popular Heinicke as a result of they know he will get the ball out. You may see it on movie, too, although. They play totally different with every quarterback.”

Browns defensive finish Myles Garrett mentioned that, despite the fact that Wentz usually holds the ball, it appeared as if he was doing so extra Sunday as a result of it was part of the sport plan. He identified the Commanders have been in formations meant to take deep pictures and generally used two gamers to chip defenders, which slowed them getting out into their routes and limiting Wentz’s check-down choices.

“They needed to get some performs down the sector and a few long-developing performs,” Garrett mentioned. “I don’t suppose it was actually [Wentz] holding it as a lot as he’s ready for every part to develop in entrance of him.”

Buckner: Ron Rivera returned to his offseason gamble. It price his crew the postseason.

Within the Commanders’ locker room, teammates defended Wentz. Receiver Terry McLaurin acknowledged it was “in all probability powerful” for Wentz to listen to chants for Heinicke, and tight finish Logan Thomas mentioned he didn’t really feel like he wanted to say something to Wentz as a result of, as a former quarterback, he knew Wentz was lots arduous on himself.

“We are able to’t actually blame [Wentz] for the efficiency,” working again Brian Robinson Jr. mentioned. “We simply didn’t have the power we wanted. … Total, it was sort of uninteresting. I don’t know the place the power got here from, however it was positively within the air, and you might really feel it. I really feel like that sort of affected his efficiency.”

The ultimate drive — with an overthrow, a drop and two false begin penalties — encapsulated the sloppiness of the Commanders’ offense Sunday. When the clock expired, Wentz walked via the Browns protection, shaking arms. He congratulated Garrett and Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson earlier than taking a knee at midfield. Wentz, defensive finish Chase Younger, linebacker David Mayo and two Browns staffers knelt and held arms in a prayer circle.

Nobody talked about something associated to the sport. They prayed for gamers’ well being and for his or her households, “the really vital stuff in life,” Mayo mentioned. The second may’ve been Wentz’s final on the sector because the Commanders’ starter. It may’ve been his final on the sector as a starter within the NFL, interval.

All afternoon, it was tough to disregard the echoes of Wentz’s previous. Final season, needing a win to get into the playoffs, Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts collapsed in a 26-11 loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. This 12 months, in opposition to one other eradicated crew, Wentz once more delivered certainly one of his worst performances.

“I want the end result was totally different. I want we got here out of right here with a win,” he mentioned. “However I don’t take into consideration [last year]. It’s a very new scenario, new place, new every part — and I simply want it could have went totally different.”

After a few minute, Wentz rose from the prayer circle, scratched his beard and ran towards the tunnel — towards boos and an unsure future.

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