Washington Football Team: It’s going to be a long season for WFT fans

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 28: Head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team reacts to a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of a preseason game at FedExField on August 28, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 28: Head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team reacts to a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of a preseason game at FedExField on August 28, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Throughout the first three games of the season, the defense for the Washington Football Team has been a massive disappointment. The perceived strength of the team has been dreadful in many aspects of the game. Washington currently ranks 29th (30.7 ppg) in points allowed, 31st (432.0) in total yards, 31st in third-down defense (58.7%), and 22nd in takeaways per game with 0.7.

That formula equates to a 1-2 start on the season. The offense isn’t completely absolved from blame. With that being said, compare Taylor Heinicke’s stats and game-film to the top rookie quarterback selections in this year’s draft. Heinicke’s looked much better than Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson. As long as Heinicke can limit turnovers and the offense improves on third-down offense, Washington will be fine offensively.

The offensive line has been inconsistent in the run game, but pass blocking has improved. Hopefully, Curtis Samuel can return from his nagging groin injury. Samuel can line up all over the field and provides the offense with game-changing speed. Last season, the Washington Football Team ended 2020 with 25th ranked scoring offense and 30th in yards per game. Through the first three games, Washington is 19th in points scored and 20th in yards gained.

Nevertheless, this article focuses on Washington’s defense or lack thereof. At cornerback, both Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III have been massive disappointments so far. Fuller had arguably the worst game of his second stint in Washington during the 43-21 beatdown by the Buffalo Bills. On Sunday, Fuller allowed eight receptions for 104 receiving yards. When targeted in coverage, Fuller has allowed 206 receiving yards, a 72.0 completion percentage, 11.4 yards per completion, and quarterbacks have a 96.4 rating.

Jackson III leads the Washington Football Team with three total penalties. All of which have resulted in critical first downs for opposing offenses in key situations. He was also beaten soundly by Giants receiver Darius Slayton on two routes in particular. One of which resulted in a  touchdown and Jackson nearly gave up another late in the fourth quarter. On the season, Jackson has a 49.7 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus.

At safety, Bobby McCain and Kam Curl should be the starters going forward. McCain has allowed only 17 receiving yards. Quarterbacks have an 84.3 passer rating when targeting McCain. He’s also only allowing 4.3 yards per reception. Curl has been earning more playing time the past two games. He played 46 percent of snaps in the season opener. That number jumped to 74 percent against the Giants and 78 percent against the Bills. Curl is allowing 9.2 yards per reception and a 106.7 passer rating.

The productivity of Landon Collins is not matching his expensive price tag. He continues to be a liability in coverage as quarterbacks have a 110.0 passer rating when targeting Collins. He’s also allowing 10.6 yards per reception. The impact plays haven’t been there for Collins. He has only 18 tackles, one of which resulted in negative yardage.

The linebacker unit also continues to be a liability on defense. However, Jamin Davis has been the best linebacker in coverage for the Washington Football Team by far. He’s only allowed 30 receiving yards compared to 124 by Holcomb and 197 from Bostic.

Jon Bostic has seen his playing time gradually decrease. In Week 1, Bostic played 84 percent of defensive snaps, 57 percent in week two, and 49 percent in week three. He’s conceding a career-high 83.3 completion percentage and 104.2 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.

Cole Holcomb has been just as bad in pass coverage. Quarterbacks have a 138.5 passer rating when targeting Holcomb. Quarterbacks also have an 87.5 completion percentage when targeting Holcomb. He’s also giving up nearly nine yards per catch. (8.9) He has also conceded two receiving touchdowns. He was responsible for allowing only one all last season.

Chase Young and Montez Sweat were perceived to be dynamic edge rushers. So far in 2021, the duo is not living up to expectations. According to Pro Football Focus, Young has a pressure percentage rate of just 9.2 percent. Sweat has a rate of just 9.3 percent. They rank 71st and 69th respectively among all qualified edge rushers per PFF.

The two guys that were supposed to provide a Sean Taylor-like impact to this defense have been ineffective all season. Opposing offenses are systematically breaking down Washington’s defense. The same way Oleksandr Usyk broke down Anthony Joshua last weekend.

Can the Washington Football Team turn things around in 2021?

In short, the answer is no. Washington continues to be plagued by slow starts on both sides of the ball. This team has a history of disappointing seasons following playoff appearances. After each of those appearances, Washington has finished 8-8 or worse and regressed the following year. This season will be another example. Per ESPN Stats and Information, Washington has the second-hardest remaining schedule in the league.

The football team has games remaining against the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Based on last week’s performance, it’s certain that Washington will lose all of those games.

That doesn’t include matchups against the Saints, Panthers, Broncos, and Raiders. Those teams have a combined record of 11-1 so far. The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott are also playing exceptionally well this season. In his career, Prescott has a 7-1 career record versus Washington. Simply put, the Washington Football Team will struggle to win five more games this season.