As I wrote in my article earlier this week, the Washington Football Team is definitely suffering from the tyranny of unmet expectations so far this season. Defensively, they’ve failed the eye test, the analytics test, the game-script test, the say the right things to the media test, and every other test that’s been thrown at them. To give this defense anything other than straight failing grades as a unit and coaching staff would be blatant homerism, right? Not so fast. If not for the lofty and (frankly) absurd levels of optimism surrounding this defense over the offseason – a defense that gave up over 500 yards in their last outing last season and couldn’t manage to contain Jalen Hurts in the game before that – would we be quite so down on this defense? I don’t think so.
There’s no denying that they’ve been historically bad on 3rd downs. There’s no denying that they’ve made every quarterback they’ve played this season look like a pro bowler. But, so often, we as fans forget that professional football has changed. The era of the absolute shut-down defense is over. The rules are so tilted toward the offense that holding a team with half-way decent quarterback play under 17 points is now quite the accomplishment. Case in point is the Chase Young sack-that-was-called-a-penalty in week 4:
So, while there remain countless issues to resolve with this defense, it’s important to remember that expecting them to hold the Saints, Packers, Chargers or Broncos under 20 points is unrealistic. Against Atlanta, the defense came up with 3 stops in the Falcons’ last 3 possessions. That’s a small step in the right direction. Maybe too small a step for some, but it’s a step.
Heading into a matchup against one of the most inconsistent teams in the league this week, the Washington Football Team has some glaring opportunities…some presented by the Saints and some more “internal” in nature. Let’s take a look at this week’s Reality Checks.