When Ron Rivera and his fellow Commanders decision-makers tune in to Super Bowl LVI from their respective couches and chairs this Sunday, they'll see plenty of Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow, two quarterbacks that Washington came at least somewhat close to landing the past few years.
And as images of those players flash across their TVs, Rivera along with the rest of his confidants should realize that they must come away with a prized passer this offseason, as opposed to nearly coming away with one as they have in the past.
But quarterback isn't the only position where the Rams and Bengals have built something worth emulating (duh — they're in the damn Super Bowl, dumb blogger guy). Even though signal-caller is the main position that's on the minds of those who care about the Commanders, Los Angeles and Cincinnati's management of another offensive group has been equally impressive.
Just look at whom Stafford and Burrow have been chucking the ball to on the way to the upcoming title bout.
In LA, Cooper Kupp has crammed the sort of production that many receivers would be thrilled to compile across two campaigns into one season. Kupp's tenure with the club began in 2017 when he was drafted in the third round, which is the same time that the franchise signed Robert Woods to a major contract.
Then, in 2020, Sean McVay selected Van Jefferson in the second round of the draft, introducing a burner to a depth chart that already included Kupp and Woods. Those three made Stafford's job in the early portion of the 2021 schedule — and still, the team wasn't satisfied with that portion of its roster.
So, the Rams went out and signed Odell Beckham Jr. after he was released by Cleveland to further bolster Stafford's crew of wideouts, a move that became even more important when Woods tore his ACL in practice just one day after the deal.
Forget Woods' injury, though, and remember this: McVay and the front office employed an MVP candidate in Kupp, a very reliable No. 2 in Woods (he had 45 catches and four scores in nine games before the ACL tear) and a developing deep threat in Jefferson. For many squads, that's ideal, but for Los Angeles, it wasn't enough. They deserve credit for that level of insatiability.
The Bengals are similarly-stocked at wide receiver, led by Ja'Marr Chase, the first-round phenom who's continued an otherworldly connection with Burrow that first began at LSU. Cincy's call to nab Chase instead of tackle Penei Sewell was derided by a chunk of pundits, with the keyword there being "was."
Chase's arrival followed the drafting of Tee Higgins, whom Cincinnati grabbed in the second round of 2020 and who absolutely could've been viewed as the offense's top pass catcher. Yet the Bengals wanted more — which is precisely what they've gotten in their run to the Super Bowl.
Chase, Higgins and 2016 draftee Tyler Boyd all caught at least 67 balls during the regular season, with the members of that devastating trio generating 1,455, 1,091 and 828 yards respectively. Just like the Rams, they're a team that went seemingly overboard in terms of assembling talent on the outside and in the slot, but most certainly do not regret doing so.
It's time for Washington to do the same.
In addition to what the Commanders have in Terry McLaurin, they could approach the future with the hopes that: 1) Curtis Samuel is healthy enough in 2022 to emerge as another difference-maker, 2) Dyami Brown seriously progresses in his second season and 3) they're able to find one other useful option in free agency or the draft.
It's at least conceivable that Rivera and Co. convince themselves those three components will come through and proceed to surmise that, when those players are paired with a better quarterback, the team's offense will be potent enough.
Hopefully, however, they don't settle on that stance.
As the Rams and Bengals have demonstrated, there is always room for more ability at receiver. Yes, their tight ends, running backs, offensive lines and — most critically — quarterbacks all factor into the picture, too, but the two clubs were especially greedy in how they constructed their receiving corps. The Commanders must act with that same greed.
Go sign Chris Godwin or Allen Robinson and then draft someone in the second round to add to McLaurin, Samuel and those already in house. Take a risk on Michael Gallup and make multiple investments on Days 2 and 3 of April's draft. Bolster, then bolster again.
In the next couple of months, the Commanders undoubtedly have to set their sights high regarding their next quarterback, but they'd be wise to also do the exact same when it comes to surrounding him with a supporting cast.