By: Ryan Cooley
The Washington Football Team took the field for the first time in 2020. They were a clear underdog taking on the defending NFC East champs. However, that didn’t seem to scare this young group one bit.
Things couldn’t have started worse, as they quickly found themselves down 17-0 in the second quarter. Washington then put their foot on the pedal and never looked back. They scored 27 unanswered points and won the game. The victory was led by the defense, who racked up eight sacks and three turnovers.
Here are five takeaways from Washington’s week one win.
Defensive Line Dominates
Everyone knew the defensive line was going to be the strength of this team. However, most couldn’t have anticipated an eight sack debut. Ryan Kerrigan had himself a day with two sacks and became the franchise sack leader. Rookie Chase Young recorded 1.5 sacks with two forced fumbles. Young was the highest-graded rookie (86.5) from Pro Football Focus in week one.
Bostic, Allen, Sweat, Ioannidis, and Payne also had sacks on the day. It was clear this defense wanted to send a message to the league. The secondary had its struggles early on when the Eagles went up 17-0 but eventually settled in.
Washington got the win, but that does not mean everything went well. Haskins, plain and simple, did not play good enough. He finished the day 17 of 31 (54.8%) for 171 yards and 1 TD. In fact, on passes that went past the line of scrimmage, he only completed 11 of 24 p (45.8%).
His accuracy was a problem last year, and it was apparent again in week 1. He completed 70% of his passes in college, but that has not translated to the NFL. If Haskins wants to be a successful QB in this league, he will need to more consistent with his accuracy.
One area that I was impressed with was Haksins leadership. This was a major focus of his during the offseason. He was on the sideline, encouraging teammates and high fiving the defense. While Rivera was getting an IV at halftime, he stood up and gave a speech that fired up the whole team for the second half.
Rivera has already done so much for this franchise. Many coaches would have avoided Washington’s dysfunction at all costs, but he attacked it head-on. He was brought in to change the culture, and you can already see it shifting in the right direction.
Rivera is an inspiration to not just his players, but everyone. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and is currently undergoing treatment five days a week. Even with this, he continues to coach this young team and has done a damn good job of it.
Rivera has impacted this organization more in the past nine months than anyone else has in the past 20 years. I am excited to see just how far he can take this team.
Desperate for a #2
Terry McLaurin is the #1 weapon on offense. However, they needed someone to step up as the #2, but no one did Sunday. I thought Steven Sims could potentially fill that role, but he was not all that impactful. He still has the chance to capitalize on this opportunity heading into week 2.
Rumors are swirling that Bears WR Allen Robinson is unhappy with his contract situation and could be looking to get traded. If this is true, Washington better pick up the phone ASAP. Robinson is a top tier WR that would give them a dynamic duo with him and Terry.
It is important to surround a young quarterback with enough weapons when evaluating if he is your franchise guy. You can’t expect Haskins to go out and perform at an elite level with virtually no weapons outside of McLaurin.
Let’s Not Get Too Far Ahead
It was a roller coaster of a game Sunday and one that fans should be thrilled about. Many analysts had already buried Washington as one of the worst teams in the league. As an organization that hasn’t had much success, fans should have their fun when they win.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This Eagles team was dealing with a ton of injuries across the board. Washington has a huge task ahead of them in week 2 facing the Cardinals. The defense will be put to the test facing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and Larry Fitzgerald.
Arizona defeated the defending NFC champions on their home turf in week one. I believe this will be a good measuring stick of how good Washington really is.