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 17 loss to the Eagles:
- The home side's opening possession of the contest was one of, if not the, best of the season. Not only did it result in an early touchdown — something that has been a rarity in the Ron Rivera era — but the offense scored that touchdown so easily. All it took was six plays and a little more than three minutes, with Jaret Patterson's scamper capping it off. It'd be strange to say that Patterson "got small" on that run since he already is so small, but yes, his short stature did help him squeeze through a nearly non-existent hole on his way past the goal line. Sadly, that would end up as Washington's first and last six-pointer of the afternoon.
- Scott Turner told the media ahead of Week 17 that he simply had to "do a better job of finding ways" to get Terry McLaurin the ball, and to Turner's credit, he did that. McLaurin's seven grabs meant he exceeded three receptions in an outing for the first time since Week 12 and his eight targets were the most he's had since Week 10. The receiver got involved on a drag route, a screen pass, a slant and a few more quick-developing sequences during the action. None of his catches were on downfield throws, but they did give him a chance to collect yards after the catch, which is an area he's fallen off in this year. In 2020, he generated 478 YAC. In 2021, he's at just 293 with one appearance left to go.
- At least Taylor Heinicke didn't get pulled from this start like he had been in his last two, but overall, the quarterback was fine at best. He was really locked in for about the first 20 or so minutes of the proceedings but then went nearly dormant until Washington's final drive of the matchup. His game-ending interception wasn't the result of pass interference like his coach argued after the loss, but rather some tangled feet and a forced toss that he just didn't need to try with 30 seconds left.
- All that said, if Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen made a throw like this, every TV pundit would be screaming over one another to praise it:
- The turning point of the meeting seemed to come with around seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. That was the spot where Washington conceded the first of its three sacks and where the Eagles' front started taking over. Keith Ismael was manhandled a few times after that at center, including once by Genard Avery, a 250-pound lineman, while Cornelius Lucas was unable to hold up on the right edge. And on the play where Ricky Seals-Jones got injured, essentially every member of the Burgundy and Gold's offensive line was beaten, causing Heinicke to scramble right so he wouldn't be planted into the grass.
- Jamin Davis was in the defensive huddle for a mere 13 snaps. Veteran linebacker David Mayo, meanwhile — who, mind you, was not a first-round pick by this organization a handful of months ago — registered 40 snaps. Corn Elder got more work than Davis did, damn it! While the rookie linebacker did pick up his first career sack, that was more fluky than anything, and Davis' first pro go-round has been underunderwhelming. He's got a seriously important offseason of development on the horizon.
- Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert compiled 13 receptions for 206 yards against Washington in 2021, and considering the four-year extension he recently signed with Philadelphia, he's got the opportunity to torment the team a lot more. On a related note, he acts like an incredibly-annoying guy (says the blogger who's writing this story while sitting under a very soft blanket).
- This is going to be the last Notebook of the season, because the thought of doing this for a meaningless, Week 18 tilt between New York and Washington is honestly quite nauseating. Hope you enjoyed checking these out the past couple of months, and the Week 1 edition for 2022 will be here before you know it.