The Washington Football Team is 1-2. That wouldn’t have been alarming if you told Washington fans that in August. The Chargers and the Bills are going to be good teams. And getting that crucial divisional win over the Giants is key.
However, the measuring stick game that Ron Rivera and Co. billed the Buffalo game as was rather damning. The 43-21 defeat showed that Washington is in a completely different class than the Bills, who are a clear Super Bowl contender.
And what is particularly alarming is how underwhelming the defense has been. There are miscommunications on the backend. The front four is not firing on all cylinders as everyone expected. And the linebackers are complete liabilities in coverage.
Washington’s defense is playing like a bottom-half of the league defense. The supposed backbone of the team has turned into a perplexing problem. Don’t get it twisted, the offense has given the defense no favors.
But that was expected. And that is the problem. Fans and media will blame the defense. Rightfully so. For as much talent as they have, it is simply inexcusable to have as much difficulty getting off the field as they do.
However, the main problem lies in the overall vision the front office and Ron Rivera have right now. It’s fault and leading the franchise on a road to nowhere.
The faulty plan of the Washington Football Team
Before we dive into the issues with the long-term plan of the Washington Football Team, let’s focus on the short-term failures. Washington completely overhauled its secondary in 2021. Out of the six main secondary pieces that play, three are new. And Landon Collins barely played in 2020, so call it three and a half.
Oh, and Kendall Fuller is playing in a new position, the nickel, after having a career in 2020 as an outside corner. Signing William Jackson III, in favor of re-signing Ronald Darby made sense. Darby’s career has been marred by injuries and relying on that is standing on faulty ground.
However, moving Kendall Fuller back into the nickel and cutting Jimmy Moreland never made sense. Fuller was really good in his first year in his second stint with the team. Jimmy Moreland was a very capable slot defender in 2020.
Washington wanted to be more man-oriented. So maybe that is why Jimmy Moreland, a predominantly zone corner, was phased out in favor of Benjamin St-Juste. So far, though, that plan is not working.
The Washington Football Team had one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, in 2020. Their strong secondary unit had a lot to do with that. And for some reason, Washington switched it up.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is how the old saying goes. Well, the Football Team’s secondary certainly was not broken in 2020 and they tried to fix it. And it is backfiring, badly.
Fuller is having a rough start to the season. I believe that is due to switching back to the nickel and adjusting to new teammates. Jackson III has been a welcomed addition but St-Juste still looks like an overwhelmed rookie in spots.
It sure would be nice to have Moreland. But Washington does not. Hopefully the secondary irons out its issues. Odds are they should get better. They have far too much talent to be this bad.
How much improvement they will see is the question.