3. First quarter (3:17), Free kick from the Washington 20
After the safety, Tress Way booted a 63-yard punt to the Detroit 17. Kalif Raymond fielded it. This time, Jeremy Reaves did not make a saving tackle.
Washington’s special teams were supposed to be improved this season. That comes with an overall increase in the talent level of the reserves. Last season, Ron Rivera clearly lost faith in longtime kicker Dustin Hopkins and replaced him. First there was the mind-boggling switch to Chris Blewitt, before eventually settling on Rivera’s kicker from his Carolina days, Joey Slye. (More on that later. No, on second thought, no more on that. You already know he missed a vital extra point late. No need to torture ourselves any further.)
Letting DeAndre Carter walk was a very questionable move. Dax Milne is not much of a kickoff returner, and though he may develop into a good punt returner, he is still very new and prone to making poor decisions.
Detroit, on the other hand, has a quality returner in Raymond. And Washington’s coverage team, which was supposed to be improved this season, is dangerously bad right now. On the free kick. Dyami Brown and Rachad Wildgoose both got blocked, allowing Raymond to split the initial wave.
Excuse me? Dyami Brown and Rachad Wildgoose? This is our improved coverage team? Brown is only playing special teams because there is nowhere else to put him. His future on this team is very much in doubt. And Wildgoose was a late signee – a small slot corner who the Commanders coaches obviously consider to be an improvement on quality special teamer Danny Johnson. Well, he sure wasn’t on this play.
With those players doing nothing to affect Raymond, he was free to beat David Mayo, and then –gasp – Tress Way. You could almost hear Raymond laughing as they flailed after him. Fifty yards later, Raymond was finally caught at the Washington 31. And three plays later, Jackson slipped in the end zone and St. Brown had an easy touchdown. 12-0.