The Washington Football Team entered the season with high hopes and expectations of repeating as the NFC East champions. They entered Week 3 with a 1-1 record after getting a last-second win over the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. Washington was a big underdog going on the road to Buffalo, but obviously that line was moving in the wrong direction during the week. What happens in Buffalo doesn’t stay in Buffalo, and the power rankings this week show the aftermath of a blowout loss.
Washington continues to tumble down the rankings, and that descent won’t end until they get their defense straightened out. Everyone is looking for answers but so far all we’re getting is finger-pointing and misdirection. Washington heads to Georgia to face the Atlanta Falcons who just beat the Giants on Sunday. Ron Rivera talked about the Bills being a measuring stick last week, but the 1-2 Falcons look like the more appropriate measuring stick right now.
How low can they go?
Oddshark - Last Week: 9
Something is wrong with Jack Del Rio’s defense. Ranked No. 3 in our NFL defensive rankings entering the year, the Washington Football Team is now allowing fourth-most points (30.7) and second-most total yards (432) per game this season. Everyone expected a leap forward from Washington, with an improving offense complementing a great defense. Instead, the defense might be why they don’t win the NFC East. Last Week: 20
Team QBR: 38.4
QBR rank: 26th
The quarterback play has been as expected, given that starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was hurt in the second quarter of the opener. Taylor Heinicke is a terrific story, and he is capable of helping, but he is limited. He threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Giants, but he had only 212 passing yards and forced two throws for ugly picks versus the Bills. While he can spark a team, he is unable to carry one. The sad thing is, it’s better overall play than last season, when Washington ranked last with a 32.6 rating. But going forward, Washington will look, once more, for a long-term solution in the offseason. — John Keim Last Week: 22
Washington’s defense has looked bad despite all of its talent. The offense is doing its best with Taylor Heinicke but it’s far from ideal to try to win shootouts. Last Week: 18
This is an unimpressive offensive football team. Washington’s offense can’t sustain drives, and their defense is faltering because they’re on the field for far too long. By nearly every metric, the Football Team’s defense is below average.
We know they are talented, but as the nerds have reiterated to us repeatedly, defensive production is better explained by the opposing quarterback’s output than the players on the field for the defense.
However, Washington allowed 29 points to a Giants offense that subsequently managed a mediocre performance against the hopeless Falcons. Last Week: 22
The Ringer(Kelly) - Last Week: 20
The defense is not playing up to expectations, and Taylor Heinicke, while intriguing as a stopgap measure, is not the sort of QB who can hide a team’s deficiencies in other areas. This was a mediocre team last season that won its division because the division was terrible. The idea that it would take a step forward this season without meaningfully addressing its QB situation was overly optimistic. Last Week: 20
In three games, Chase Young has nine tackles, no sacks and just one quarterback hit. He’s not the only reason Washington’s defense has been a major disappointment this season, but it’s not going to turn around unless Young plays a lot better. Last Week: 21
Remember when the WFT defense was being touted as not just one of the best units in the league, but the most feared? Say what you want about the QB situation and whatnot, the lack of a backbone where there should be one is Ron Rivera’s most pressing concern. Last Week: 21
The defense, which looked like it would be dominant before the season, has been a disaster. It can’t stop anybody. That’s hard to believe with the talent of the front seven. Last week: 21
A defense that was the league’s second best statistically in 2020 is currently its second worst and has only six sacks despite its vaunted front. Last Week: 21
They aren’t who we thought they were. Last Week: 21
Washington’s hyped defense has been shredded for the second-most total YPG (432), third most PPG (30.7), and is giving up the second-highest 3rd down conversion rate (58.7%) with just 6 sacks through 3 games. Last Week: 23
This defense has underwhelmed me more than any unit in the NFL. Last Week: 21
The Washington Football Team is one gift-wrapped victory from the Giants away from an 0-3 start, and the failure of the defense to meet expectations is the main reason why. Washington surrendered points on seven of Buffalo’s first nine possessions on Sunday, as Josh Allen picked apart the secondary without being sacked once in a 43-21 loss in Orchard Park. The Bills scored 27 points in the first half; Allen was over 300 yards passing with nine minutes to play in the third quarter. Washington has time to sort things out, but the team’s primary strength has turned into its biggest weakness. Said Ron Rivera: “We got a long way to go.” Last Week: 21
This one is simple for me. A team tabbed by most to win its division cannot lose its starting quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick), start an unproven cult hero (Taylor Heinicke) and not get the expected production from its talented defense (points allowed: 20, 29, 43) and expect to make the playoffs. I see the No Nicknames as trending downward from here, even though I’d love to write a movie script about Heinicke one day.
Heading into the 2021 season, the belief was that the Washington Football Team would field one of the NFL’s most formidable defenses.
Three games in, that belief has been shaken.
One week after allowing 29 points against a bad Giants team, Washington was shredded by Josh Allen and the Bills to the tune of 481 total yards and 43 points. The team that some pundits considered front-runners in the NFC East is one last-second field goal away from starting the season 0-3.
Of course, it’s not all the defense’s fault. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw a pair of costly interceptions and the offense struggled mightily on third downs (2-of-11).
There are significant issues on both sides of the ball, and those issues need to be resolved quickly. After a Week 4 tilt with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington begins a brutal five-week stretch that includes home matchups with both of last year’s Super Bowl participants.
“Maybe we overrated the WFT this preseason,” Gagnon said. “That defense is tantalizingly talented and they have some intriguing pieces on offense, but it just hasn’t remotely come together for a team that could easily be 0-3 and was completely overmatched in Buffalo. The Bills are a great team, but Sunday’s poor defensive performance from Washington wasn’t a total anomaly. That unit just hasn’t been great this season, which is quite surprising.” Last Week: 21
Washington was blown out by the Bills and even though they scored 21, it wasn’t even really that close. The Football Team should start to worry about their defense. Last Week: 20
New York Post - Last Week: 22
A year ago, this was the second-ranked defensive unit in terms of total yards allowed. On Sunday at Orchard Park, Ron Rivera’s team surrendered 481 total yards and have up five offensive touchdowns. There were no sacks or takeaways by Washington.
Meanwhile, quarterback Taylor Heinicke ran for one touchdown and threw just as many TD passes as interceptions (2). The Football Team has allowed a combined 72 points in their last two games. Last week: 21
NumberFire - Last week: 20
Where should the Washington Football Team rank heading into Week 4?
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