Football Team

This aspect of Washington's Week 2 loss really bothered Rivera

Football Team

Falling into another multi-score hole, turning the ball over on offense and on special teams and that early red zone coverage breakdown are three of the larger issues that emerged in Washington's Week 2 loss to the Cardinals that irked Ron Rivera.

Something much less noticeable, however, really bothered the coach, too.

On a few instances in the first half, Rivera's offense found itself in a second-and-short situation after picking up a chunk of yardage on first down. That's a down and distance that play callers typically dream of, but in Arizona, the Burgundy and Gold's production in those situations was a bit nightmarish.

To start the second quarter, for example, Antonio Gibson took a handoff for nine yards to set up a second-and-1. He lost a yard on the next snap, however, and a Dwayne Haskins incompletion followed. That led to a Tress Way punt when there shouldn't have been a Tress Way punt.

On the next drive, after a 25-yard connection between Haskins and Terry McLaurin, Haskins hit McLaurin again for nine more. Yet on the ensuing second-and-1, the quarterback tossed a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage to Gibson, who was dropped for a loss of three. Haskins completed a short toss to Dontrelle Inman on third down, but Inman couldn't get past the sticks. That led to another Tress Way punt when there shouldn't have been another Tress Way punt.

Those kinds of small failures mattered just as much to Rivera as the more widespread ones.


"We have to sustain the success," he told reporters on a postgame Zoom. "Each time, the next play, we did not succeed. I mean, it's second-and-1."

To Rivera, minute moments in this franchise's rebuild can resonate just as much as week-to-week or month-to-month progress. After all, this is the guy who, in training camp, explained that seeing his players pick up trash in the locker room indicated that his new roster was listening to what he was teaching. 

So, while those failures on second down happened in less time than it took you to read the start of this sentence, they are still worth focusing on in his mind. Rivera expects plenty more of them as well, and he'll be paying attention to whether the results remain the same or change for the better.

"We're going to go through this," he said. "These are growing pains, guys. We won a game last week, everybody's excited, I was excited, I'm enthusiastic because I think we have a good football team. We've just got a lot to learn."