Commanders fire offensive coordinator Scott Turner

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After another season in which Washington lagged on offense, the Commanders fired coordinator Scott Turner on Tuesday, ending his three-year run as play caller.

“I met with Coach Turner today and informed him that we will be moving in another direction,” coach Ron Rivera said in a statement Tuesday. “… Unfortunately, we did not live up to the expectations and standards that I expected to see from our offensive unit. I thought it best for a fresh start at the coordinator position in the next year. Scott in my mind I have the utmost respect for Scott and thank him for his three years of service to our organization. I wish Scott and his family all the best for the future.”

It’s the first domino to fall since the Commanders’ failed playoff bid, but it may not be the last.

Turner was reunited with Rivera in Washington in 2020 following Turner’s two-year stint as quarterbacks coach of the Carolina Panthers. When Carolina let Rivera go, Turner stayed on as offensive coordinator for the final four games of the 2019 season.

Turner’s role in Washington was his first full-time job as a coordinator and came with high stakes. The franchise began a rebuild and a rebrand, and Turner planned to start eight quarterbacks during his tenure.

Commanders players frustrated with aggressive play-calling

Over the past three seasons, Washington’s offense ranked near the bottom of the NFL in several statistical categories, including 27th in yards and red-zone efficiency, 28th in offensive scoring, and 25th in third-down conversion rate. The team has also been a model of inefficiency, with the fourth-worst total offensive expected points added and a turnover-per-drive rate that ranked fifth-highest.

Scott Turner, the son of former Washington coach Norv Turner, used the foundation of his father’s Air Coryell system, which typically consists of a vertical passing attack and a power running game. But in Washington, Turner not only cycled through an array of quarterbacks, he also worked with multiple offensive line iterations and didn’t leave behind Brian Robinson Jr. for five games this season.

“We didn’t do what we wanted to do this year,” Turner said last week. “… I’m as accountable for this as anyone else. … I think there’s a lot of room to grow and I look forward to working with these guys and continuing to get better and continue to improve.” and want to get this team where we want it.

Washington’s struggles were tied to a myriad of factors, including inconsistency at quarterback. But the offense and play-calling became a source of frustration in the locker room as about a dozen players shared their gripes about its predictability, its lack of production and some calls that detracted from the team’s personnel strength.

In short, the players believed that, given the talent on the roster, they should be producing more and winning.

“We did a good job of getting into the red zone. We just have to convert with touchdowns,” Logan Thomas said. “I think that was just a small part of our struggles. In the red zone, you should be able to run the football for a touchdown. We have to be able to make plays. It stinks that we didn’t do the job… because we have the talent.”

From Monday: Commanders players clear out lockers and look forward to a season of uncertainty

The Commanders traded for Carson Wentz in March, believing his size and arm strength would propel him down the field. but started 2-4 with Wentz under center, only to turn it around when Taylor Heinicke took over in Week 7 after Wentz was injured the week before.

Turning to the running game, the Commanders won six games in a seven-week span, putting them in the playoff conversation before going undrafted in December. Washington went 1–3–1 in its final five games, its lone win coming in the finale of a meaningless season started by rookie quarterback Sam Howell, finishing 8–8–1 to fall out of postseason contention. .

“I thought we [found our identity in Week 10] When we won in Philadelphia,” said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “I felt like that was our identity. Whatever the reason may be, but it’s none of my business. I just have to go out and do my job.

That identity is one Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew said they intend to come back as they revamp rosters this offseason. In an extensive season-ending news conference on Tuesday, just hours before Turner was let go, the pair said they intended for the offense to be a run-first system led by Robinson and Antonio Gibson.

“We did a lot of work on Carson,” Mayhew said. “We knew a lot about him – the good, the bad, the ugly. We thought he suited the kind of football we wanted to play. We didn’t play the kind of ball we played the first two games. wanted to play. … didn’t [Robinson]The run game was not going the way we wanted. We were 2-to-1 passer-run, which is not our formula. As you saw, this last game, we were 2-to-1 run-passer. … That’s how we want to play.

Mayhew and Rivera stated that their emphasis on the running game is a philosophical belief rooted in their experience and not a default approach due to inconsistent quarterback play.

“It’s for me. I’ve been involved in it,” Rivera said. “…we need to control the pace of the game. I believe in the two-back system. … We have some talented spots, and we need to be able to get the ball in the hands of those guys.

The Problem With It: Washington’s offense was seemingly built with a focus on the passing game. Not only did the Commanders trade for Wentz, they also drafted Jahan Dotson, a wide receiver, in the first round.

“I thought last year we had a chance to take a step, and I think we took a step,” Rivera said. “Am I disappointed that we didn’t make the playoffs? I’m right. We had the opportunity to control our destiny, and we didn’t do the things we needed to at the right time. There is no control. So the best thing we can do is control what we can and that is the growth and development of our players.”

To stay with the run-first philosophy, Washington’s off-season priorities will include improving the interior of the offensive line, which experienced a drop-off in play after parting ways with guards Brandon Scharff and Ereck Flowers a year ago. had to face

On the other side of the ball, the Commanders hope to add youth and depth to the secondary and must consider the future of Daron Payne, one of their standout defensive tackles. The 2018 first-round pick will be a free agent in March if Washington doesn’t re-sign or franchise-tag him. A long-term deal would force Washington to allocate even more salary cap resources to the defensive line; It has already paid off for fellow teammate Jonathan Allen and soon faces judgment on the ends of Montez Sweat and Chaz Young.

“We’re working through that process now,” Mayhew said. “Daron is an important part of what we’re doing. … Obviously, it’s going to be difficult going forward without him. We have a plan and we definitely want to have him back.”

Commanders are operating with certain guarantees.

In November, owners Daniel and Tanya Snyder announced that they have retained a bank to “consider potential transactions” related to the team, and there have been recent indications that they plan to sell. But when they sell and to whom could have important implications for the football side of the business.

Rivera said he plans to meet with ownership on Monday.

“We’re going to do what we need to do as far as preparing ourselves to move forward,” Rivera said. “We have to look at what’s coming in the draft, what’s coming in free agency. We’ll look at what we have on our roster and make those evaluations — our own, the staff and what we do.” Do it.”

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