Before every one of Washington's matchups for the 2021 season, Pete Hailey will present one number to know for that particular battle.
Here's what's on his mind, and what should be on your mind, for when the squad takes on the Panthers in Week 11.
For Taylor Heinicke, one isn't a lonely number. In fact, it's a very, very significant one.
As Washington attempts to build off of what it did versus the Buccaneers in Week 10, much of the concern is about how the defense can carry over its performance.
How effective will the group be without both Chase Young and Montez Sweat? Will the tackling be as consistent as it was against Tampa? And can the coverage hold up as well once again?
Those conversations are definitely valid, as Jack Del Rio's unit would love to prove that what it did in the upset of the Super Bowl champions can be a common occurrence instead of a complete rarity. However, they also ignore something about Heinicke's most recent outing that might matter even more.
In his battle with the Bucs, Heinicke managed to avoid throwing an interception or losing a fumble. The same can be said for when Heinicke and Washington beat Atlanta back in Week 4. And though Heinicke was responsible for a pick when the club bested the Giants in Week 2, he came right back onto the field to orchestrate a game-winning drive right after his mistake.
So, that means that in the Burgundy and Gold's three victories this year, Heinicke has just one turnover. In the five losses where he was the starter, meanwhile, Heinicke has given the ball away a total of nine times (eight INTs and one fumble).
Some NFL offenses are skilled enough or explosive enough — or they're just lucky enough to be paired with seriously suffocating defenses — that they can overcome a lack of ball security in a given contest and still come away on the better end of the scoreboard.
At this juncture, however, Washington just doesn't seem to be among that crew.
Therefore, at the risk of sounding like an obnoxious, longtime football coach who's wearing short shorts and death-gripping a clipboard, it's paramount that Heinicke posts another clean sheet in Carolina. Sure, it's possible that he doesn't yet Washington still notches its second-consecutive triumph, but they simply haven't proven that they can in 2021.
Come Sunday evening, if Heinicke has a zero in both the interception and the fumble categories, the odds of his team changing the three in its win column to a four feel quite promising. The NFL is a complicated league for so many reasons, but in this respect, it could be as basic as that.