The Washington Football Team has not quite lived up to expectations this season so far.
At 2-3, the season is barely over, especially in a division as volatile as the NFC East. However, the offensive inconsistencies and the drastic drop in production by the defense make this team look like one that is destined to make the top 10 of the 2022 NFL Draft instead of going into playoff games in January. play.
Last year’s surprise trip to the playoffs almost makes you forget that this is only the second year Ron Rivera leads the franchise out of a nightmarish 3-13 campaign in 2019. Washington may have won the division last season and pushed the Buccaneers to their limits in its lone playoff game, but as Rivera explained on the Sports Junkies Tuesday, this is a team that is still focused on growth and development.
“We’re trying to focus on what really is the long-term development of this football team, not an overnight solution,” Rivera said. had been good enough to win the division, the expectations would have been much lower and it would have been a little easier.’ This is difficult. This is the way it should be. It’s supposed to be hard because it’s the only way you learn.”
Washington’s biggest disappointment so far has been the defense. This group finished the 2020 season as one of the best defenses in the NFL, and with the return of everyone to the defensive line, Landon Collins’ comeback from an Achilles tendon injury and free agent William Jackson III, it was expected to get even better. .
Instead, the unit was one of the worst defenses in the NFL, with over 400 yards and 31 points per game. Only the Chiefs allow more points per game than Washington and they have a lot less talent on that side of the ball.
Washington’s competition has been strong, including matchups against Justin Herbert and Josh Allen in the first three weeks of the year, but the strength of the schedule is no excuse for bloated coverage and allowing a Hail Mary touch up with Jameis Winston. and the Saints.
Still, Rivera wants to focus on the positive with his team moving forward.
“Unfortunately everyone sees the two bad plays [vs. New Orleans]’ said Rivera. “I get it, it was two bad plays, it was two bad plays that really affected this game. But don’t take away from what the boys have done. Don’t take away from the improvement that is being made. This is about growing and developing, and if we just want to remember the negative every time, we’re not going anywhere. We keep getting pulled back. We try to develop. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to become a football team that can win on a consistent basis, and this is about educating a bunch of young guys.”
Washington certainly has a fair number of young players, especially on defense. They may be extraordinarily talented, but many of Washington’s biggest defensive employees are still on their first contracts.
Chase Young and Montez Sweat are still in their second and third seasons in the NFL, respectively. Daron Payne is 24 years old, Jonathan Allen and Kendall Fuller are 26. Kamren Curl is 22, Cole Holcomb is 25, Collins is 27 and Jackson is 29. The oldest starter in defense was Jon Bostic (30), but he will probably miss the season after landing on an injured reserve.
Should such a young and talented unit play better? Absolute. But perhaps the explanation is more rooted in their inexperience than perhaps the scheme or the game.
“I know we still have some maturing to do,” Rivera said. “I know we still have some development and growth to go through. I know that, I said that. This is about growing and developing. We don’t start every year where we ended up. You have to start somewhere and I believe you always start at working the basics and your way back to the top, if you always start things at the top and just go where you are when you don’t, you forget the things that are important, and those are the basics of what you do. is what I’m talking about when I talk about maturity, growth and development. It makes sure our foundations are solid and sound.”
As Washington strives to correct its fundamentals and develop throughout the season, the next two weeks will not be easy in that regard. The team will host Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid in week 7 and head out the following week to play Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field.
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