Washington Football Team: 3 key stats responsible for WFT’s slow start

Washington vs Bills (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
Washington vs Bills (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /
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Washington Football Team
Washington vs Buffalo (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

2. 3rd Down Offense & Defense

In just three games, Washington sports the NFL’s second-worst third down defense, allowing opponents to succeed on 58.7 percent of third downs. It doesn’t get much better for Washington, as they also have the league’s worst third down offense, succeeding only 26.5 percent of the time.

These are two huge areas of concern for Ron Rivera & company, as these splits are directly correlated to the contrast in the time of possession battle. The Washington Football Team is very much an offsides call away from starting the year off 0-3, and despite their Week 2 win, the Washington offense has gone 3-of-10, 4-of-13, and 2-of-11 on third downs this season.

Washington’s defense was ranked sixth in the NFL in third down defense last season, as Jack Del Rio’s group allowed opponents to succeed on third down only 37.5 percent of the time. That is an alarming drop off, especially considering the group is ranked 31st in that category thus far.

The Football Team’s third down defense has been especially bad in their losses this season, both the Chargers and Bills combined to go 23-34 on third downs in their victories. For a group that’s widely considered as one of the best defenses in the NFL, they will surely have to fix the issues on third down to help out the offense.

3. Getting 1st downs 

The Washington Football Team’s issues in the early part of the 2021 season are all intertwined in some way, and it doesn’t stop here.

The inability to sustain drives and get first downs has crippled Washington’s offense so far this season. In Week 1, the Chargers had 27 first downs opposed to Washington’s 15, and in Week 3’s loss to Buffalo, Washington mustered 13 first downs compared to Buffalo’s 29.

Taylor Heinicke’s playmaking ability is what separates him from most backups in the NFL, but Heinicke has only been able to display this ability to an extent this season. Though Heinicke is partially to blame for the ineptitude of the offense so far, the playmaking ability provides an opportunity to turn things around.

However, with little to no drive sustainability, it will be hard for this to occur. It is imperative for the Washington offense to put together drives consistently and this starts with getting first downs. It may sound simple, but it’s pretty straightforward: Washington needs to be more consistent.