The Washington Football Team dropping their Week 1 clash against the Los Angeles Chargers isn’t the end of the world.
However, there’s reason for fans to be concerned. Ryan Fitzpatrick left with a right hip injury in the first half and didn’t return. The offensive line didn’t come ready to play and the defense refused to get off the field on third down.
That’s the opposite of a winning formula, so it wasn’t surprising that the Football Team came up just short in the end.
While a number of things went wrong for Washington, we can’t help but point out Ron Rivera’s questionable decision-making.
Putting his suspect clock management aside, Rivera decided to punt on 4th-and-7 from Los Angeles’ 40 down four points with six minutes left.
Even Chargers fans realized it was a mistake.
The Football Team punting inside Chargers territory late in the fourth quarter was a big mistake by Ron Rivera.
Washington never got the ball back. While we understand the thinking behind trusting your championship defense, Justin Herbert was cooking the Football Team on third down all game long. We know they only needed one stop, but why not push the envelope and see if Taylor Heinicke can deliver in a big spot?
If you asked us, Heinicke deserved that chance given how he performed after Fitzpatrick got banged up.
In a vacuum, Rivera put the ball in the hands of one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league with the game on the line instead of rolling the dice and seeing if Heinicke can complete an eight-yard pass.
That’s not a good look and flies directly in the face of how Rivera earned the “Riverboat Ron” nickname. We get the offense’s lackluster performance probably zapped Rivera’s confidence, but the game was on the line.
We hate to pile on Rivera’s decision. There’s no denying that his defense let him down. They had multiple chances to get off the field, but kept giving up third down conversions that took precious time off the game clock.
However, that’s that happens when you play conservative.
How did Herbert and the Chargers respond? By running 15 plays and moving 72 yards down the field before entering victory formation after Washington burned its last timeout with less than two minutes remaining.
Is the loss squarely on Rivera’s shoulders? Of course not, but it sucks not knowing what would’ve happened if he didn’t punt in that situation.