It’ll be tempting to put all of the blame for Washington’s 27-17 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles on the organization having to turn to new quarterback Garrett Gilbert and the COVID-19 outbreak that shook up other sections of the depth chart aside from quarterback.
But the reality is that — while those aspects certainly, undeniably factored into the result — the primary reason Ron Rivera’s team faltered in Philadelphia is because its defense got ripped apart by the hosts all evening long.
As harsh as that may sound, it doesn’t compare to the way the Eagles treated Washington beyond the first quarter, a frame in which the road side jumped out to a 10-0 advantage thanks to a pair of takeaways.
From then on, quarterback Jalen Hurts and his crew of skill players cruised up and down the Lincoln Financial Field grass as they finished the contest on a 27-7 run in an eventual 27-17 victory. It may be years until they come across more wide-open avenues than the gaps they blasted through on Tuesday.
Now, back to Gilbert and the decimated, pandemic-altered roster. Again, it would be foolish to dismiss those parts of the game, especially because they no doubt influenced Jack Del Rio’s operation.
After all, it’s difficult to stop an opponent that’s so adept on the ground when Gilbert and Co. were slowed for almost the entire second and third quarters. Washington’s defense was worn down because its peers were sputtering and the consequences of that really showed in the middle and later portions of the proceedings.
Plus, the absence of useful defenders such as safety Kam Curl and cornerback Kendall Fuller, guys who were out due to positive tests, meant that the group was down a few bodies even before Gilbert was thrown into the equation.
So — clearly, without a doubt, obviously — the defense wasn’t in an ideal spot for this Week 15 affair.
Conceding 519 total yards, 238 rushing yards and seven third-down conversions on 13 attempts isn’t acceptable. It just isn’t, regardless of the circumstances.
Gilbert, all things considered, did a hell of a job starting for Washington just four days after signing with the franchise. Also, as far as beginnings go, Rivera couldn’t have asked for a much better one than the two-score lead that his squad seized.
Unfortunately, Washington's defense simply faded away as the matchup progressed. With the team's record at 6-8, 'fading away' can officially be used to describe its postseason hopes, too. Maybe a win against the Dallas Cowboys changes that in just a few days, but the way the defense played Tuesday it's hard to see Washington keeping its now-slim playoff hopes alive at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.