The highly anticipated season-opener for the Washington Football Team ended with many fans disappointed and frustrated. Let’s start with the obvious, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. He went down early in the second quarter in his team debut and did not return. He was is believed to have suffered a hip subluxation, which is when the ball of the hip is partially out of the socket. A timetable for him to return is currently unknown, but now it will be the Taylor Heinecke show going forward.
The passing offense struggled for most of the game. In the first half, Logan Thomas and Terry McLaurin combined for 1 target. They later finished with 7 catches (7 targets), 92 yards, and TD, but essentially got no production from anyone else. The other guys combined for 7 catches for 43 yards on 14 targets. Was the lackluster passing attack due to Fitzpatrick’s injury? Potentially, but when you combine for 133 yards of passing offense in 2021, you have a clear problem. The absence of newly signed Curtis Samuel proved more costly than many anticipated. He might not get you 1500 receiving yards a season, but he is a viable weapon who can hurt you in many ways. Without him, the WR core is once again looking suspect. Better than years prior, but still suspect.
The run game had some success, gaining almost 5 yards a carry. Antonio Gibson carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards, including a 27 yarder which was one of the biggest plays all day. A costly fumble by Gibson inside their own 5 removed any sliver of momentum Washington had built. Going forward I expect this running game to get better next year with the improvement of the offensive line, which was an absolute trainwreck.
With three new members of the line from last year, including both starting tackles, I expected struggles, but not this bad. LA was in the backfield all day, which led to Washington’s struggles in the passing game, including Fitz’s injury. It does not matter how many game-breaking weapons you have, if you cannot protect at the backfield you will struggle.
The most disturbing part of the game was the lack of a pass rush from the defense. With the talent on the front four for Washington matched up against a rebuilt offensive line, you expected chaos from Washington. Justin Herbert was able to make pretty much any pass he wanted, whenever he wanted to. The middle of the field was wide open all game, which exposed the linebacking group. The cornerbacks were stout, mainly big signing William Jackson III, who came away with an INT in his debut.
Converting 14 of 19 third downs is unacceptable. I also have to blame Jack Del Rio and the whole defensive coaching staff. If you aren’t getting any type of pass rush, send a blitz and Herbert and get some pressure on him. This team is too talented to only have two sacks against any offensive line in the league. Also, for some reason, they stuck with a zone defense all game, and it was getting picked apart. You have a quality group of DBs who have speed and the ability to keep up with many receivers and tight ends, mix in some man coverage. If LA didn’t drop a lot of passes, it would have been a different ballgame.
Another small victory, Dustin Hopkins nailing his kicks. All preseason he was rocky, so him being nailed was nice to see. Would like to see him improve from beyond 50 yards, but today was a step in the right direction.
They have the Giants this upcoming Thursday at home, and they open as 4 point favorites. Even with the quick turnaround, Fitzpatrick was not playing this week. A short week and little film should give Taylor Heinecke an upper hand in this matchup if the O-Line gives him protection. With the injury to Saquon Barkley and an average offensive line, I expect Washington to step up and send pressure at Daniel Jones.
Next game prediction: Washington defeats Giants, 20-10