Sunday’s season opener at home didn’t go quite as planned for Ron Rivera and company. Washington came out flat on defense, and that carried on throughout the game. The Chargers converted 27 first downs in the game and were an amazing 14-19 on third down, while The Football Team was an abysmal 3-10.
That vaunted Washington defense... yeah, it allowed 424 yards on the afternoon.
Our “much improved” offense - scored a whopping 16 points and may have ended the season of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Overall, this was a large team Dud!
Below are my Studs and Duds of the game followed by some notes.
Terry McLaurin - F1 did not have his best game statistically, but that catch on the left sideline on the high floater by Heinicke was amazing, and the kid was blocking his butt off on run plays. One thing I do know - no one out there plays harder.
Cole Holcomb - The former Tar Heel linebacker showed above and beyond most everyone on defense - playing well against both the run and pass. He was our best linebacker over the second half of last season, and he looks that way to begin 2021.
Jack Del Rio - I’m listing our defensive coordinator first here on the Duds list, as it was his terribly vanilla play calling, inability to generate any pressure, horrible job disguising coverages in the secondary, and inability to make any in-game adjustments that cost us the game. I know players have to make plays, but coaches have to put them in the correct situations to do so; and Del Rio DID NOT! Horrible, HORRIBLE game plan.
Washington’s VAUNTED Front Four/Five - Yeah, that stellar unit produced two sacks (one of which was a phantom sack/fumble) and got very little pressure on Herbert all afternoon.
Brandon Scherff - If you want to be the highest paid guard in the NFL, stop committing dumb penalties that put your team in a hole. The false start on third and five was costly.
Charles Leno Jr. - - Leno Jr.’s play was nothing to inspire confidence in the offense. The veteran was the reason Fitzpatrick was knocked out of the game (and maybe for the season), after he was brutally beaten on an inside pass rush where he looked like a swinging gate. He gave up pressure both off the edge and inside during the contest. I bet PFF will have fun with his grade this week.
Jamin Davis - I get he’s a rookie, and I get he’s tasked with calling our base defense from the MIKE position, but man, this kid did not look good. It speaks volumes when a linebacker who is supposed to be excellent in coverage, can’t even see the field in Nickel over Jon Bostic.
I guess we’ll chalk this first game up to...I can’t think of anything - I need some help please!
Kendall Fuller - Fuller had an absolutely rotten day attempting to cover ANY of the Chargers receivers he was manned up on throughout the game. Aside from that, he was responsible for missed tackles as as well (an area he’s usually very strong in).
The Refs - This crew missed a TON of calls; not only in our favor, but also ones that should have went for the Chargers. The missed facemask call was egregious, however the sack/fumble that Sweat was credited for wasn’t even close.
- Fitzpatrick was never able to get into a rhythm in this game do to early pressure - one of which may have ended his season. Heinicke looked ok once he settled down, and his throw to Logan Thomas for the touchdown against one-on-one coverage in the endzone was a great read and throw.
- I know a lot of fans out there are crucifying Antonio Gibson on social media for his costly fumble and multiple dropped short passes, but I thought the second year back ran hard, ran patient and ran smart most of the game. We know the former Wildcat receiver has good hands, so I’m going to chalk up the drops to a lack of concentration and a bit of early season rust.
- I guess having no Curtis Samuel really does hinder our offense. Just like we saw last year, Terry was being given over-the-top help on routes downfield - as the Chargers just didn’t respect any of our other options.
- Rookie right tackle Sam Cosmi started off horrible. I seriously debated putting him on the Duds list, but he did play much better later in the contest.
- For all the preseason hype he received, Adam Humphries sure disappeared on game day.
- Dustin Hopkins missed from just beyond 50 (something we all expect by now), but he did nail his other three field goals - one from 48 yards out. I get some fans are still upset with him, but I am not. Progress people...progress.
- The St-Juste debut was a rollercoaster ride all afternoon. The Canadian has potential, but he needs some time. There were plays where he was clearly beaten, but there were also plays where he had very good coverage and Herbert simply threw a perfect pass.
- William Jackson III should have followed Keenan Allen wherever he went Sunday. WJ3 didn’t play bad (recording his first interception of the young season), and was easily our best corner on the afternoon - although the bar was pretty low.
- I’d love to know why Kam Curl, who was making plays early in the game, didn’t play the majority of the defensive snaps. This is another gaff by Del Rio!
- Why in the name of SAM did we not use McKissic!
- I know many of you desperately want Scott Turner to land on the Duds list, but I’m not putting him on mine. Losing Fitzpatrick that early in the game throws everything out of whack - most notably, play calling. We were having success running the football, and I like that we didn’t get away from that in the second half like we’ve all too often seen in the past. Trying to get Gibson more involved was a good idea - now we just need Gibson to make plays.
- Rivera not going for it on fourth down late in the game, and some of the clock management NEEDS to be questioned. However, his defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, so not sure any of that would have mattered anyways. Still, not the best coached game by him.