Washington Football Team Rundown: Week One
Photo via Washington Wire
In the first installment of the week one takeaways, boy is there quite a bit to talk about… This first one is just going to be from my own perspective, but I’ll see if some of the other Good Griefs would like to make this a quick weekly rundown with me.
That being said, let’s jump right into it:
Washington’s first game of the season resulted in a 20-16 loss that was in one word — disappointing. After a season that featured more buildup than we’ve seen in the DMV since the RGIII era, a week one matchup against the Chargers was one that seemed very winnable. Sure, they had the better quarterback, sure Keenan Allen and Austin Eckler are both studs — but it goes without saying that the defensive disparity on paper is tremendous and Washington’s pre-season expectations were infinitely higher. Somehow, the last thing the fans were expecting in week one was a loss, but maybe that’s a good place to be compared to what we’ve been
through the last few decades.
There are so many things to overreact to from last Sunday’s game, but for right now I’m going to keep it simple — a quick rundown of the things I liked from the team, and one from the things that I didn’t.
Let’s get into it…
Most of the “good” that will come from this list lie in individual performances, and looking back on my list, they’re pretty underwhelming. Still though, it’s always refreshing to have positive takeaways from a rough showing.
Taylor Heinicke is not a one hit wonder. Coming off one of the best quarterback performances we’ve seen in the 21st century from a WFT player last postseason, Heinicke picked up right where he left off. He found himself thrown into the fire early in the second quarter when Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with a hip injury and didn’t disappoint — going 11/15 and passing for 122 yards with a touchdown without giving up any interceptions or taking a single sack. There were a few throws that he certainly got away with — namely the bomb he threw to Terry McLaurin who made a miraculous catch on a very poorly thrown ball. Nevertheless, Heinicke showed that he may just have been Washington’s No. 1 on the depth chart from day one. Hopefully he’ll be able to provide a much needed spark to the offense in his upcoming weeks at the help.
Something that may be overlooked was Deandre Carter’s electricity making returns on special teams. I don’t know where this guy came from, but he is QUICK. He had consistently good returns all day and should give fans infinitely more confidence than Steven Sims did back there.
The rush defense still managed to show that they were elite in a very underwhelming defensive performance. They managed to hold the Chargers to 90 total rushing yards, but that number may have been deflated by the nature of their air-raid offense.
Terry McLaurin’s catch. Nuff’ said.
Washington’s red-zone defense came out the gate solid again this year. They held Herbert several times and even managed to force two turnovers with Montez Sweat and William Jackson III at crucial points in the game. For being put in tough positions more than a few times, I’d say they fared very well.
There were a few performances from Washington that made me scratch my head, wondering if they impressed or depressed me. Since I couldn’t decide where to put them, I elected to throw them in here!
It was overall a solid day from Antonio Gibson, in that he managed to rack up 90 rushing yards while adding 18 more through the air. His explosiveness was on full display, showing the clear ability to run downhill with power and find gaps. Although he was the most impressive player on offense, he may have ultimately cost Washington the game after fumbling deep in his own redzone, directly following a momentum swinging interception. Who knows what the outcome may have been without Gibson’s massive error.
I thought William Jackson III had a solid day in his first game with the team — given I don’t always have my eye on cornerback play, and Charger’s receivers all had decent stat lines (especially on third down but I’ll get to that later), but his interception should have been massive for Washington and his pass breakups were also impressive.
Logan Thomas had a dismissive stat line, but his one touchdown reception from Taylor Heinicke still showed that he is a massive target in the red zone with amazing hands. We’ll see what he can manage with a hopefully more stable offense in week two.
Sigh… still so iffy on Dustin Hopkins. He went 3/4 on the day and missed a somewhat long attempt, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan who in anticipation of his miss was going “he’s probably going to smoke this.” Sure enough…
Washington fans — or football fans for that matter — love nothing more than to home in on every bad thing their team does on Sundays. As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, there are more than a few things to talk about in the bad column from the week two game.
THIRD DOWN DEFENSE. Easily what lost Washington the game. Any time you allow a team to go 14/18 on third down, it should automatically result in a loss. It felt as though the Football Team had a miniscule amount of time on the ball, and it was because they could never get off the field on defense. If it wasn’t bad enough to allow the Chargers to convert 78% of the time on third down, the manner in which they occurred was terrible. Passes right down the gut from Herbert to his receivers for big chunks of yardage is simply not acceptable. The icing on the cake was a 17-yard completion from Herbert to Keenan Allen on 3rd & 16 on the last drive of the game. Of course, straight up the middle. It would be the first of FOUR third down conversions for the Chargers on the seven-minute drive that would ultimately demolish the Football Team’s hopes for the rest of the game. If Washington wants to win the NFC East this year — a division which is looking undoubtedly tougher through week one than it did last year — this type of performance can’t happen again.
If it wasn’t bad enough that the Chargers crushed Washington in virtually every offensive statistic, the play calling from the Football Team on the offensive side of the ball was horrendous. Scott Turner must be more aggressive, plain and simple. Maybe things will change when the team gets Curtis Samuel back from injury, but what worked with Alex Smith briefly last year, won’t strike again this year. The team needs to allow their weapons to thrive — giving McLaurin only four targets a game is a recipe for disaster.
Ryan Fitzpatrick going down with an injury less than two quarters into the season is a very bad look for the team. In a game where the offensive line looked porous but not awful, you can’t let your 10+ million-dollar quarterback get hit like that. It appears it isn’t a trivial injury either — putting Fitzpatrick on the injury list for some time.
It seems wrong to assess rookie performances so harshly after week one, but yikes. Jamin Davis — the man hailed to be the answer for Washington at linebacker — was a nonfactor in Sunday’s game. Benjamin St-Juice would much rather forget about his first game in the burgundy and gold but playing cornerback against such a loaded offense gets a free pass for game one. Dyami Brown got targets, but nothing that would allow him to shine in the game. Heinicke seemed to throw to him a good amount though, so we’ll see what he can do for the rest of the season.
For all the buildup and hype that came with Washington’s menacing defensive line, they did not live up to the billing in week one. There were moments for sure — pass deflections, two sacks, and a few pressures. However, the amount of noise they were supposed to make versus the amount of noise they did make was very disproportionate. Chase Young namely was nowhere to be seen most of the game — not what you want out of the second-year captain.
I’m sure there’s plenty more that I missed, but these were the things immediately in the forefront of my mind. Hopefully the addition of a few more writers will make this report more comprehensive in the upcoming weeks.
Now to the fun part — a look into Washington’s big primetime, Thursday night game against the New York Giants. This is where my goals can be lofty and maybe unrealistic, but as any delusional Football Team fan would say, I’m pretty positive Washington will learn from their mistakes and go undefeated for the rest of the season (hot take).
I told you I’d be lofty… and maybe unrealistic (definitely unrealistic).
In all seriousness, there are several things Washington needs to improve on to win tomorrow night. The defense needs to come out with fire and pressure Daniel Jones and his offense which looked lackluster in their week one loss to Denver. Taylor Heinicke needs to keep this momentum going, and I’m confident that he will, even against a tough New York defense.
My score prediction: 21-17 Washington. Heinicke in his first regular season start with the team will do just enough to get the victory. The defense bounces back from tough week one to show us what they’re really made of, taking advantage of New York’s awful offensive line. Chase Young will break out wreak havoc on Jones and Saquon Barkley, racking up two sacks and just as many TFL.
Be ready for a defensive shootout — one in which Washington will come out on top from and start divisional play off 1-0.