3. Lack of conviction in Dustin Hopkins
Washington has zero confidence in Dustin Hopkins outside of 40 yards. In the NFL, kicks of 53 yards or shorter seem to be common practice.
For some reason, Ron Rivera opted to go for a 4th and 10 conversion rather than attempt a 53-yard field goal try. He once said in a press conference last week that Dustin Hopkins play isn’t a problem until it’s a problem. Having zero confidence in your kicker, I’d argue, is a problem. If it makes you severely limited as an offense, especially to the point where you choose to go for it on 4th and 10, inside your opponents 38 yard line, is a major problem.
4. Taylor Heinicke’s performance
The final takeaway is that we are approaching the verdict on Taylor Heinicke going forward. The verdict looks like the young man, while a great story, is not the answer at QB as a full-time starter. Against teams who can disguise coverages or run heavy man coverage, Heinicke struggles. Teams that opt to run heavy zone, like the Giants who run that heavy cover-2 look, or the Falcons, Heinicke will perform like a fringe-starter.
Look, his ability to make plays late in games has been awesome to watch. I’m sure for stretches during the season, if you need him for three games or so, he can win you those games depending on the matchup.
But his lack of arm strength and arm talent in general, his obvious inexperience when it comes to playing NFL defenses and slow processing speed when it comes to playing against man-coverage, his constant “forcing” of the football into tight coverages, it doesn’t work in the NFL.
You can get by and win some games, but for as bad as the defense played yesterday, they had multiple opportunities to win and they failed in large part due to their quarterback play.
Turnovers in the red zone, a turnover deep inside your own territory, missed throws — whether it be to Terry McLaurin or missing an open Adam Humphries early in the game where you end up settling for a field goal — he was bad. Taylor Heinicke was bad.