Football Team

Hailey's Notebook: What stood out after WFT vs. Vegas re-watch

Football Team

Pete Hailey is not a current or former NFL player, nor is he a current or former NFL coach. He is a reporter. Therefore, this space won't be used to closely analyze schemes or assign blame on coverage breakdowns or anything like that related to the Washington Football Team, because those things are hard to discern without knowing the design of and plan for a given play.

That said, he does cover Washington on a day-to-day basis, meaning he can (hopefully) pass along helpful observations after re-watching each of the franchise's games. So, here's what stood out to him from the Week 13 win over Vegas:

 
  • Many of Antonio Gibson's 23 carries on Sunday were productive, but perhaps his most clutch one officially went for just a single yard. On a third-and-1 during Washington's sterling opening drive, Gibson took a toss from Taylor Heinicke and found serious resistance on the left side. At one point, Gibson was about eight or nine yards away from the line he needed to cross to set up a fresh set of downs. Fortunately, he had the wherewithal to make a hard and sudden cut then burst upfield before taking on a couple of Raiders right at the sticks as he fell forward to somehow extend the possession. One play later, Heinicke found Logan Thomas for the contest's opening touchdown. When Gibson's not fumbling, he's an immense asset. 
  • Even though Tyler Larsen was in uniform, Keith Ismael got the start at center. Ismael, who went to San Diego State and had family in attendance at Allegiant Stadium, got to the second level to throw key blocks on two of Gibson's long, first-quarter scampers. The fifth-round pick from 2020 was a total non-factor up until he was thrust into the lineup last Monday night against Seattle and he's holding his own in his first stretch of real action.
  • The good news for Jamin Davis is that he was around the ball more often than he has been perhaps all year long, yet the rookie linebacker had issues bringing opponents down once he got there. After reviewing the game replay, it looked like No. 52 missed four tackles, with three of those coming in the flat in one-on-one situations. Now, he does deserve credit for a few other tackles that he did convert, including one that went for a five-yard loss and another that came on a screen that was about to pick up crucial yards late. Also, Davis was far from the only Washington player to have problems in this area. Even so, it was another uneven performance out of him. 
  • Bobby McCain was super active and popped all over the place on defense. He was able to hit receiver Bryan Edwards in the first quarter just as a Derek Carr bullet arrived and jarred it loose, a play that officials eventually and correctly ruled incomplete. Later on, McCain cleaned up a swing pass by blasting Josh Jacobs out of bounds to force a punt. And lastly, he ran step-for-step with Zay Jones on an absolute heave from Carr on Vegas' final drive and found a way to prevent that prayer from being answered and save the win. After a rough opening to his first year with the team, McCain's steadied himself.
  • Adam Humphries' best work seems to happen as the clock's winding down, a trend that continued Sunday. The under-appreciated veteran finished with four catches for 38 yards. Three went for first downs (including two on Washington's two-minute march on the way to Brian Johnson's winning field goal) and the fourth turned a second-and-15 into a third-and-manageable that Heinicke picked up with a scramble. His routes are smooth and his hands are trustworthy. He's been a really nice addition to the offense all season. 
  • Curtis Samuel was deployed in an intriguing manner versus Vegas but he just wasn't able to create much of an impact. On a couple of snaps, he lined up in shotgun next to Heinicke. On one of those instances, he caught a screen but was dropped for a loss, and on Washington's last offensive play of the afternoon, he took a handoff for four yards when he needed five. He also had his number called on a cool-but-ultimately-ineffective misdirection-y, reverse-y thing. Hopefully, the coaching staff and Samuel are on the verge of fully unveiling his skills. 
  • The Thomas knee injury is such a shame, because he showed how useful he is in Week 13. His one-handed touchdown was nasty, and later, he hauled in a gorgeous Heinicke pass that ended up going for 35 yards. Now, John Bates keeps impressing and Ricky Seals-Jones will be back soon at tight end as well, yet Thomas is a special offensive option. He'll be missed for however long he's out (Rivera told the media on Monday they got better news than they were thinking they would but still didn't know the duration of Thomas' pending absence). 
  • Heinicke's second touchdown toss, which opened up the fourth quarter, was as beautiful as it was improvised. Gibson ran a pretty standard route to the flat after the snap and Heinicke hit him in stride with a side-armed dart. Heinicke knew he couldn't set his feet and throw like he was in an instructional video, so he street-balled it to his running back and it worked to perfection. 
  • One thing to keep an eye on: DeAndre Carter has bobbled a couple of punt and kickoff return chances lately. So far, none have resulted in a special teams turnover, but those are the kinds of things that will haunt him if he doesn't start securing them again.
  • Finally, let's highlight the defensive line. Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne remain the headliners, but they're receiving spirited contributions from backups like James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, Shaka Toney and Daniel Wise. "They're not getting the credit they deserve, but I mean, damn," Allen said about that crew afterward, sounding seriously proud. The defensive line is meshing despite plenty of injury woes and adversity — just like Washington is as a whole.