1. The Reality Is, Washington needs an infusion of fresh thinking among the coaches.
Let’s be real. Coaches don’t like to admit they were wrong…about player evaluation, about scheme, about roster spots. But give them even the lamest of “cover stories” and they’ll jump at the chance to course-correct.
Anyone believing it wouldn’t have been better to let Jamin Davis take his lumps over the last 4 weeks rather than having Jon Bostic take a majority of snaps is outside their mind. The team would still be 2-2, and Davis would have that many more snaps under his belt. Similarly bonkers is anyone thinking that rotating JD McKissic and Antonio Gibson rather than having them both on the field as often as possible is the ideal use of Washington’s weapons.
The choice to not stick with the run when Antonio Gibson has the hot hand? Confusing. The thinking that Bobby McCain should be playing more snaps than Kam Curl? Whack. The approach of asking William Jackson III and Bobby McCain to play mostly zone? Bananas. Not moving Chase Young and Montez Sweat around and running more stunts and games on the defensive line, given their freakish athleticism? Criminal. Playing Landon Collins in soft zone coverage? I mean…
I’ve got to assume that Ron Rivera, Jack Del Rio, and Scott Turner realized some of these errors before now, but some combination of arrogance and misguided patience had them holding back from making significant changes. But the injuries to Logan Thomas and Brandon Scherff will give them cover to make some shifts on the offensive side of the ball to emphasize more two-back sets, highlight Gibson more, and utilize JD McKissic more often as a receiver on underneath routes, not just check-downs and broken plays.
Similarly, as I mentioned, the injury to Jon Bostic gives them a convenient “excuse” to shuffle the personnel and simplify the scheme for the rest of the defense. Things that should have done after the first half against the Chargers and have been increasingly overdue ever since. Jamin Davis starting and playing almost 100% of snaps, Collins transitioning to a linebacking role, Curl taking over at SS, Fuller and McCain swapping their FS and slot corner roles are the personnel adjustments I am looking for them to make.
And as far as the defensive scheme? This week, I’d like to see them play press-man on the outside with St. Juste and WJIII, let Davis spy Kamara in both the run game and pass game, and let Curl, McCain and Holcomb match up on the other tight ends and receivers with Fuller playing over the top in single high. Outside of Kamara and Taysom Hill, there aren’t any particularly dangerous or dynamic weapons on the Saints’ active roster, so a simplified man approach should take away some of the communications issues and let the guys play fast and confident while giving the defensive line just a tick longer to reach Winston.
I’ll be looking out to see how many of these types of ideas get employed this week…does this coaching staff admit their early-season mistakes behind the rationale of injuries? Or do they stubbornly plug in substitutes in a “next man up” mentality and continue to pretend there choices aren’t the primary reasons for the team’s struggles so far this season?
My Prediction: Expect small steps forward in a few of these areas. But not enough to pull off the win against New Orleans. Look for a 28-24 loss this week for Washington as they head into the varsity portion of their schedule.