The Washington Football Team did seem to play with quite a bit of effort against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. The defensive line really harassed Aaron Rodgers throughout the first half, defenders like Danny Johnson and Landon Collins saw extensive action in unfamiliar roles and quarterback Taylor Heinicke did his damndest to move the offense.
After the two-touchdown defeat at Lambeau Field, Ron Rivera addressed reporters and came across as downright pleased with the way his players performed in Week 7 (which was the squad's third-straight loss).
"I love the fight in these guys," Rivera said. "There’s no quit. They played hard. And that’s all you can ask for as a coach — that your guys come out and play hard and give themselves an opportunity."
Well... is that really all Rivera can ask for from Washington? To show up and deliver top-notch effort?
Not really, to be frank. In all honesty, that should be the bare minimum, if anything.
One thing Rivera could request on top of NFL-quality energy is NFL-quality execution in the red zone. That's not going too far or being too greedy, right?
Heinicke's bunch travelled inside of the Packers' 20-yard line on four different occasions Sunday and scored a grand total of zero points on those trips. On two of those visits, they got inside of the five and still didn't find the end zone.
Here's another thing Rivera could reasonably demand of his squad: A stop on an opponent's opening drive. That would be a true coup.
Rodgers began his day with a 13-play, 75-yard trek that concluded with a fourth-down scoring strike to star wide receiver Davante Adams. The Chargers, Giants, Bills and Chiefs all registered touchdowns on their initial possessions versus Washington, too, just like the Packers did. Only the Falcons, who had to settle for a field goal, and the Saints, who had to punt, can't relate.
And how about some execution when it's time to stay on the field as an offense? As long as the wish list isn't getting too crammed, that warrants a spot on there as well.
Washington out-gained Green Bay by more than 100 yards and won the time of possession battle by more than five minutes. However, their aforementioned red-zone ineptitude held them back, as did the 4-for-11 success rate on third downs and 1-for-4 output on fourth downs. That's known as coming up small in big moments.
In another season — like, if this was still Rivera's first campaign as the Burgundy and Gold's leader or if the team had been more consistent in 2021 before Sunday's matchup — it'd be easier to accept the coach's assessment of what Washington did on Sunday.
Perhaps some would even nod their heads along with him and agree that the "fight" that Rivera's roster showed was worthy of highlighting.
With how this year has gone, though — the repetitive mistakes, the underperforming defense, the additions that have actually subtracted and the recent stretch of meaningless fourth quarters — it's straight-up difficult to get riled up about players doing their best.
"We’ll continue to do that because that’s the only way we’re going to get better," Rivera said postgame.
If only it were that simple.