Ashburn, Virginia. The Washington Commanders have revealed what they want to be in the first game of 2022: a team that can distribute the ball, keep the defense on their toes, and rely on a talented receiving body.

The opener worked. It didn’t work in the last two games.

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That is why they are still searching for their offensive identity. It is no coincidence that they are also looking to break their two-game losing streak. Their quest should end quickly after two consecutive losses, especially with a 2-1 game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday (1:00 pm EST, Fox).

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“We’re still working on it,” said Washington coach Ron Rivera.

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Washington (1-2) has a new quarterback Carson Wentz, who has a talented hand that can open the attack. He has a talented receiving body with Terry McLaurin, healthy Curtis Samuel and rookie Jahan Dotson, as well as tight end Logan Thomas.

That’s why commanders want to throw the ball. Rivera said they’ve been looking at their playmakers throughout the offense – not just receivers – and are still figuring out how best to use them.

“We can’t assume that our top three hitters are our three receivers,” Rivera said, “because if we approach it with that mindset, the tendency is to want to throw the ball to get our hands on it. With what we can do with our ability to control the ball, we have to try that too.”

That is the problem. In Washington’s first game, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-22, the Commanders were successful, distributing the ball to seven different receivers. Five different players handled the ball, although Antonio Gibson ran 14 times for 58 yards as he started running back, and also caught seven passes for 72. They used their weapons in the passing game.

But in the first half of a 36-27 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 2, the Commanders made 17 passes and only ran six times. Part of it was situational; they only gained 21 yards in 10 first-down plays, constantly leaving the offense in a bad spot. Thirteen plays scored zero yards or less.

They struggled when they tried to launch the ball, averaging just 2.83 yards per carry.

In Sunday’s 24-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, they came out looking to quit. After Samuel’s jet swing gained 15 yards on the first play, Wentz played the next five plays spanning two series. The next run came on third-and-26. Another bad stat: 14 games in the first half brought zero or fewer yards against the Eagles.

They want to quit, but the defense doesn’t always hold up. They need to run, but even when they tried in the first half of Sunday, their throws ended in failure – a third down, a forced fumble and a punt.

Last season Washington was 2-6 last week. During this time, the coaching staff decided to rededicate themselves to the running game. Some of it was situational, as a previous deficit forced more passes, but they averaged 25.6 runs and 118.1 yards per game in their first eight games. In the next four, all wins, they average 37 and 137, respectively.

The running game could get a boost when rookie Bryan Robinson returns, possibly in Week 5. Team strength is back, Robinson is currently on the non-football injury list after being injured during an attempted robbery on August 29. on the pitch during pre-game warm-ups on Sunday, but Rivera didn’t say until Monday that “everything is moving in the right direction.”

“The absence of Bryan Robinson is a bit of a handicap for us right now, but we still have some very capable runners, so we should consider that as an option,” Rivera said. “Then it’s the same with a tight position. We can’t forget these guys.”

The key for Washington remains some level of unpredictability. Their offensive talent should provide great play, but commanders can’t get into too many bad situations.

Washington has met 2nd, 10th and over 29 times, second in the NFL. But according to Sportzshala Stats & Information, the Commanders scored an NFL-worst 64 yards in this situation. And Wentz was fired six times in the NFL.

“We had the ball pretty well, we just have to stick with it,” Washington tackle Charles Leno Jr. said after losing to the Eagles. “But it’s also not my job, I’m not the one who assigns the games. We just need to be more efficient.”

Not to mention consistent. That’s where it helps to find that identity, knowing what can help them start early.

“Trying to be aggressive while throwing the ball creates opportunities,” Rivera said.

Other times, according to Rivera, they come into play, wanting to start early in order to discover something else later. Sometimes nothing works. That’s where they’ll need playmakers to get them off track. They remain confident that they can become attackers. This is a skill group that has only played three games together and is not a finished product. They must produce, and they cannot panic.

“It’s about staying focused during the ups and downs of the game,” McLaurin said. “When you don’t press, it can be annoying… Someone has to make the next play to get the ball rolling again.”