The Washington Football Team still leads the NFC East, but they don’t look or feel like leaders after their 30-15 loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Washington and Arizona both came into Week 2 at 1-0, but Arizona remained undefeated with decisiveness. What went wrong for the Washington Football Team, and what do they need to do to improve in the coming weeks?
Washington vs. Arizona Week 2 takeaways
Struggles to score still pervade in Washington’s offense
In the NFL, one of the most basic fundamental necessities is to move the ball and score points. Whether you’re a good team or a bad team, you should have the basic ability to move the ball in some capacity. It’s kind of a big deal. That being said, on Sunday, Washington displayed a startling inability to perform this basic function, especially in the first half, where they were blanked by the Cardinals 20-0, despite getting the ball in enemy territory multiple times to start drives.
Assigning individual blame is never a good strategy, and especially in the case of Washington, where several factors are at play. But the thematic takeaway is simple: The Washington Football Team has to find a way to move the ball.
For two weeks now, they haven’t been able to do this consistently. The offense’s early performance is reminiscent of the team’s overall output in 2019 when it was universally recognized as perhaps the worst offense in the NFL. Scott Turner was hired to jolt the unit to life, and even though he’s not working with the best cast of talent, he hasn’t been able to elevate them with his scheme.
Dwayne Haskins needs to improve, but he also needs more help
It’ll be too early to make a resounding judgment on Dwayne Haskins’ future even six weeks from now, but the former first-round pick was expected to be more proactive as a playmaker in 2020, and through two weeks, he’s thoroughly underwhelmed.
There have been bright moments, but they’ve been overshadowed by long bouts of anemia for the Haskins-led offense. Too often, Haskins has appeared out of rhythm, whether it be with his throwing mechanics, his progressions, or his pocket movement. The offensive line hasn’t helped, of course; Haskins has faced lots of pressure, and over time, it seems as though he’s grown skittish.
With that being said, Haskins’ best reps in 2019 came when he stood in the face of pressure, squared his shoulders, and was able to generate maximum torque by rotating his hips through his throws. He was even able to do this off-platform on occasion. But in 2020, he’s frequently rushed his process and launched while his upper and lower body were misaligned, and as a result, he hasn’t been as accurate as expected.
Later in the Cardinals game, Haskins started to gain synergy with Terry McLaurin, but if the Washington Football Team wants to legitimately compete in 2020, then this can’t just be a two-quarter thing every week. Haskins has to come out and take hold of the offense with authority. Right now, we’re still seeing a signal-caller with a tepid grasp on the offense. That has to change fast.
The defensive line was less disruptive
It wasn’t a great day for the Washington Football Team’s defense. Kyler Murray scored three total touchdowns, and the Cardinals offense managed to hit the 30-point threshold. Of course, part of that was to be expected against Murray. He’s a true cheat code on offense, and Washington could only hope to mitigate his impact.
Washington’s defense also didn’t get any help from the offense, which could have kept Murray off the field, had they been able to string together more drives. Murray is such a talented quarterback that he’s going to produce eventually if he keeps getting opportunities.
Murray’s speed and elusiveness also proved to be a disarming factor for Washington’s vaunted defensive line. Washington’s front four drew the attention of the nation after logging eight sacks in the season opener against Philadelphia. This week, the team as a whole only logged three sacks, and only one was achieved by a defensive lineman (Young).
Things could have been worse, seeing that the offense gave the ball back to Kyler Murray every chance they got. But it’s clear that Washington’s defensive line, while still formidable, may have benefited a great deal from opportunity in Week 1, and they might not be the league-pacing unit that we thought we were seeing.
Washington’s loss to Arizona in Week 2 is disappointing, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, who are coming off a close primetime win against the Bengals. It’ll be a crucial game for two teams still looking to prove that they belong.