Washington’s record isn’t that unexpected, but the way it plays is
Before the Washington football team started their season 16 days ago, many predicted they would take the 1-2 start which came to fruition. Their debut against the Los Angeles Chargers felt like a huge blow by the time the franchise schedule came out, and even optimists viewed the trip to Buffalo as a massive undertaking.
So the fact that Ron Rivera’s side are a under .500 game in three outings isn’t all that surprising.
What has been surprising, however – along with other words like “upsetting” and “disturbing” and “(let’s not print this on this site)” – is how Bourgogne et l’Or has performed up to this point.
One issue that almost immediately impacted things, as well as one that was fundamentally beyond Washington’s control, was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. The free agent quarterback Rivera and the front office acquired and installed as a starter all spring and summer was able to execute the offense for six shots before leaving the Week 1 game with the Chargers and landing. on IR
There’s an argument to be made that losing Fitzpatrick was major, as well as a counter-argument that Taylor Heinicke has and can continue to do the job just as effectively as the veteran. What cannot be argued, however, is that going with a single caller the entire offseason and then watching that caller limp before his first half in his new uniform will wreak havoc in an organization.
But as unsettling as it has been to watch Fitzpatrick’s stint as the best QB ends so quickly, something good, much worse has happened since the opener on September 12, and it is the output on the other side of the ball.
Defense of Washington – a group that has been denied investments through the draft and the free market, a group that is in its second campaign under the leadership of its coordinator, and a group that has set itself very ambitious goals – is currently at the bottom of the categories where he excelled. one year ago.
Not at the top. Not in the middle. Not in the middle.
And that’s why it’s so hard to stay calm about the club’s prospects, even with a record that suggests there is still so much time to bounce back.
Everything about Washington’s defense will not remain as porous as it did in the first month. It’s inevitable that their excruciating third-down percentage will at least return to a place where it’s just bad, for example, and they should be able to force more turnovers than the rate they are currently doing.
Their other flaws, however, such as the mediocre linebacker, or the inability of the D-line to return home in one-on-one situations, or the gaps in coverage that are regularly exposed, or the unruly penalties, or the refusal to perform the missions Rivera evokes almost every time he addresses the media?
These are not problems that a larger sample size will magically erase. Instead, these are issues that Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Dak Prescott will feast on. Hell, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, and Sam Darnold could very well do that too. Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones and Josh Allen certainly had fun already.
And those issues, by the way, will in turn increase stress on the Heinicke-led offensive, an operation that was meant to be led by Fitzpatrick and was not meant to be put in a position where it was to thrive every weekend.
So, yes, even if it’s tempting – and maybe a a little useful – to remember that Rivera’s last group fell to 1-5 in 2020 before winning six of their last 10 to win the NFC East, it would be misleading to claim that a little determination and patience will be enough to save Washington of this crisis.
What will really change the mood and the ceiling are the defensive players who really correct their shortcomings and the staff who really throw in what doesn’t work, as opposed to the players who promise they will and the staff who really do. sticks to its original plan.
Heinicke and his squad aren’t free from guilt – Heinicke’s turnovers against the Bills were untenable and the second tier guys aren’t stepping up – but it’s Jack Del Rio’s side that need to lead the way .
If that doesn’t happen, then the thought of sticking to a frustrating 1-2 is going to sound terribly enjoyable, because the reality will be so much worse – and far more frustrating.