When the Washington Football Team defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, there was a lot to be excited about: the defensive line dominated, Dwayne Haskins looked in control and the Eagles looked atrocious.
A week later, against a much more formidable opponent, the team looked closer to what everyone expected coming into the season. They’re still technically in first place in the NFC East, but that will likely come to an end in the next week or two.
No one expected them to be a super team after last week; this is still very much a rebuild, but after seeing the starts to their division rivals’ games, it wasn’t out of the question to wonder if Washington had the best team in the division.
Then later that afternoon, the Burgundy & Gold proceeded to fall down 20-0 by halftime before eventually losing 30-15. Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, to their credit, have been named dark horse contenders by so many people that they probably can’t even be considered dark horses. Still, the growing pains were evident for Washington.
The defense was fine, but not great. They let up too many points too early, but managed to hold Arizona at 20 points for a large stretch. The offense, like last week, couldn’t get anything going, and an already dreadful offensive line lost their best piece when Brandon Scherff went down with a knee injury.
Here’s a scary thought: Chase Roullier is now our best offensive lineman. Geron Christian is simply not a starting left tackle, and Wes Martin has not looked good at left guard either. Some people will blame the offensive ineptitude on Haskins, but when you can’t get blindside protection, it’s hard to do well in the NFL.
Rounding out the line is Morgan Moses, one of the highest-paid right tackles in the league, who he has not seemed to recapture the form that earned him his contract.
As I mentioned last week, the schedule isn’t getting any easier in the coming weeks, and with Scherff now out for three to five weeks, our offense could struggle mightily.
There was buzz earlier in the week that perhaps Allen Robinson wanted out of Chicago, but that has since been shut down. The Bears’ star wide receiver would have been a perfect addition to this offense. Giving Haskins an established, veteran threat to throw to besides Terry McLaurin would have done wonders. Suddenly the offense wouldn’t look too bad beyond the offensive line.
Instead, Robinson appears to be staying put. The pass-catchers looked about as expected as well; McLaurin had a great game (7 rec-125 yds-1 TD), but the rest of the squad was mediocre at best.
Tight end Logan Thomas was peppered with targets for the second week in a row, with Haskins looking his way nine times. Only McLaurin (10) was targeted more. Despite all the attention, Thomas looked out of sync with Haskins for much of the day, grabbing just four receptions for 26 yards.
Maybe Thomas just needs more time to gel with the offense, or maybe he doesn’t have what it takes to be a starting tight end in the NFL. Haskins seems to trust him as a target, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove himself.
The biggest pleasant surprise on offense was JD McKissic. Brought in as a receiving back, McKissic rushed for 53 yards on just eight carries (6.63 yards per carry). He broke off for several long runs that often saved the drive for the offense. Rushing isn’t his calling card, so it’s nice to see that he was able to produce on the ground as well.
As for the other running backs, Peyton Barber was the lead back a week ago, taking 17 carries, but this week Barber had just one carry for one yard. Rookie Antonio Gibson had the most carries this week (13) for 55 yards and a late touchdown. Gibson looked shifty, explosive and perhaps already the best all-around back in this offense.
I still think keeping Adrian Peterson around would have been helpful. He can still play, and if the team is only giving Barber a single carry (in which he converted on 4th & 1), and McKissic and Gibson are more rushing/receiving hybrids, then Peterson seems like a valuable veteran presence in the backfield. Oh well.
We’ve seen the Washington Football Team face a dumpster fire and a legit playoff contender in back-to-back weeks. I think it’s fair to say they fall somewhere in between, at least at this point. This is not a playoff team; they can’t really compete with the best out there (although in this year’s NFC East, who knows?). At the same time, there are a handful of teams in more destitute situations so far.
The offense has to start getting points early, and the defense needs to make more stops early in the game, but I would be shocked if there is no improvement between now and Week 17. At least All-Pro punter Tress Way looked sharp as always; we can definitely count on him.
Cover Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK