Amid defensive struggles, the offense for the Washington Football Team has been a pleasant surprise led by backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke. It’s a small sample size, but Heinicke is staking his claim as the starter of Washington regardless of the health of the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. The former Old Dominion commodity bounced back quite nicely after throwing two costly interceptions last week in Buffalo.
The Georgia native completed 23/33 of his passes, which equates to a 69.7 completion percentage. He also threw for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and completed passes to nine different receivers. Heinicke burned Atlanta with his legs as well. Overall, he accounted for five rushes and 43 yards. On both touchdown passes late in the fourth quarter, Heinicke displayed excellent mobility.
Washington’s offensive line surrendered 13 sacks through the first four games of the 2020 season. So far this year, the offensive line has surrendered only four sacks during the first quarter of the season. It’s astounding, considering Heinicke’s style of play. Washington is third in the NFL in QB sacked percentage with 3.12 percent. Washington is also excelling in the red zone offensively. The team currently has the sixth-rated red zone offense in the NFL. Washington is scoring touchdowns on 72.7 percent of drives that enter the area.
Washington also played mistake-free football. For the first time all year, the Washington Football Team committed zero turnovers in the 34-30 win over the Atlanta Falcons. At running back, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic continue to make plays for the Washington Football Team. Gibson accounted for 14 rushes for 63 yards en route to averaging 4.5 yards per rush. He also scored his first rushing touchdown of the season in Atlanta. McKissic continued to show his worth as the third-down back.
McKissic pass-blocking was phenomenal. Just check out this clip at about the 13-second mark. Despite being limited to 15 yards on seven carries, McKissic made two crucial catches for Washington’s offense late in the game. The first came on third-and-nine with Washington down eight points with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. The second was the game-winning 30-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Heinicke.
Wide receiver Terry McLaurin is without question the best player on the Washington Football Team right now. After Logan Thomas left the game early with an unfortunate hamstring injury, McLaurin elevated his game. Had it not been for an overthrown pass early in the first quarter, McLaurin should have accounted for three receiving touchdowns. Nonetheless, ‘Scary Terry’ finished the game with six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Two other players that stood out on Sunday were Curtis Samuel and Deandre Carter. Samuel only recorded four catches for 19 yards while only playing 25 snaps. However, three of his catches did result in first downs for the Washington Football Team. Samuel’s presence alone will continue to challenge opposing defenses. Especially on jet-motion plays, Atlanta defenders honored those motions every time.
Carter had only one catch for 24 yards, but it occurred on the last offensive possession for Washington. Despite two special teams’ errors from Dustin Hopkins, Carter scored on a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown. On the play, Carter ran through a tackle and received a pancake block from rookie John Bates.
Can the Washington Football Team offense continue its solid play against the New Orleans Saints?
Defensively, Washington continues to struggle. The unit is 29th in yards allowed and 30th in scoring defense. However, the offense currently ranks 11th in the NFL in scoring. (25.3 ppg) Had it not been for a devastating fumble by Antonio Gibson in the season opener, the WFT could very well be 3-1.
Despite being led by backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, the offense has been able to score points. They will receive a stiff test from the New Orleans Saints next week. New Orleans has the fifth-best scoring defense (17.3 ppg) in the entire National Football League. The Saints’ defense is also exceptional against the run. They rank second in rushing yards allowed per game (66.0) and third in rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.1)
In a 27-21 loss to the New York Giants, the Saints allowed Daniel Jones to complete 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 402 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor Heinicke and Washington’s offense should be able to replicate some of that success versus New Orleans. However, they’ll need to be leary of a Saints defense that’s tied for second in the NFL with 1.8 interceptions per game and fourth in turnovers with eight total through the first four games.