With a game full of mixed emotions, Washington defeated the New York Giants on a game-winning field goal by kicker, Dustin Hopkins. This is the first time Washington has ever beaten Daniel Jones in four tries, and the first time they’ve beaten the Giants since 2018.
There are a few takeaways I have from this game, starting with QB Taylor Heinicke. This almost feels like last season when Alex Smith eventually started, giving Washington a shot of confidence. The dude has an unmatched trait about him where guys rally around him, and tonight was no different. As usual, Washington’s offense started slow, going 3-and-out on back-to-back drives to start the game. But they scored points on six of their final nine drives. He started the game taking what the defense gave him but turned it loose to end the game. Going downfield giving receivers a chance is something Fitzpatrick was supposed to do, but Heinicke has stepped up and taken over.
Targeting Terry McLaurin seemed to be priority #1 for the passing game, and it worked all night. Hauling in 11 catches with 107 yards on 14 targets should be the minimum for this offense. He is one of the better WRs in the league and tonight proved that. One unsung hero is Adam Humphries. He did not do anything flashy, but he kept drives alive late in the game. That is why they brought him in, to be the possession slot WR next to the speedier guys like Dyami and Curtis. When they get all of their weapons back, expect this offense to take off.
Playcalling has to get better from OC Scott Turner. There is no reason to throw the ball late in the game, that deep in your own territory up one. In that situation, you run the ball, drain the clock and force the Giants to use their timeouts. They just got two good runs by Antonio Gibson on back-to-back plays, why change something that is clearly working? Lucky the defense was able to save them by getting a stop and only allow 16 seconds to come off the clock, but that should have never happened.
The defense is struggling. They cannot stop Daniel Jones to save their lives. He ran freely all over the field, being the Giants leading rusher with 95 yards with a TD, and would have had more if not for some cheap penalties. If Darius Slayton catches that TD late in the fourth quarter putting them up 10 points, the game is over.
This defense is supposed to be one of the best units in the league, but the struggles with things like communications really hold them back. Jones running free on read options, the constant conversion on third and longs, and secondary breakdowns will hold this team back. Running zones seem to not work, but the fact that this team is astonishing. Communication between the LBs and DBs seem to be the biggest problem right now. On the Slayton drop, both William Jackson III and Landon Collins looked at each other as to say they expected something else from each other. This has been an issue for Washington for a while under various coach and players. I don’t know how to fix it outside of practicing.
The inconsistencies in pressure from the “stout” defensive line is quiet jarring. The amount of attention this unit got last year (rightfully), they’ve been bad to start this season. Yes, the box score says 4 sacks by Daniel Jones, but the play on the field told a different story. With the offenses they face getting better as the season goes on, they need to fix this ASAP, or this year will be a wash.
Washington has been very underwhelming this season, and they have many things they have to fix. This team should be better than they are. Will they improve as the season goes on like last season? Potentially, but until then they need to get better all around.