Football Team

What went well for WFT in their opener vs. the Chargers?

Football Team

Almost everything for the Washington Football Team was leaky on Sunday, from the offensive line to the third-down defense to FedEx Field's infrastructure

And no, this story isn't meant to draw criticism away from the Burgundy and Gold's performance versus the Chargers in the 2021 season opener, because there are plenty of aspects to legitimately be concerned about.

But, almost everything is different from everything, meaning that there were at least a couple of encouraging signs from Ron Rivera's club in Week 1.

Take William Jackson III's debut with the franchise, for example. The corner wasn't perfect — Justin Herbert found success targeting him as well as all other members of the home defense from start to finish — but he did notch a key interception and, more importantly, had highlights in both man and zone coverage.

With Cincinnati, Jackson thrived mostly in one-on-one situations, but in Washington, he'll have to be a little more balanced and prove that he can be effective in other looks too. Through one contest, the results are promising; he played Keenan Allen and Mike Williams supremely tight on a couple of him-against-them situations and his turnover appeared to come on a zone call where he dropped his first assignment and pounced for the pick on the sidelines.

On offense, meanwhile, Antonio Gibson — besides his devastating fumble, which can't be forgotten and probably put him past the point of redemption in the eyes of many fans — was quite strong. Just to be clear, his turnover was unacceptable, yet the rest of his afternoon deserves praise.

 

Overall, the second-year running back finished with 20 carries for 90 yards (which was good for 4.5 yards-per-attempt) and three grabs for 18 yards. The majority of those yards were hard-earned, by the way, whether he was bouncing off Chargers up the middle or shaking free from guys on the edge.

As long as his ball security doesn't become an issue, he's going to deliver on the very high expectations most have for him.

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Don't forget about Terry McLaurin either. Not that you would, especially when he's making receptions like this one.

Lesser-known contributors were solid in their own right beyond those three flashy names.

Ereck Flowers, and not Brandon Scherff, was the better guard for Washington on Sunday. Perhaps that's as scary as it is exciting, but regardless, Flowers helped open up running lanes for Gibson on numerous carries. 

DeAndre Carter's outing as a returner was also noticeable; he had a long of 31 on kickoffs and a long of 14 on punt returns as he showed serious speed and decisiveness on specials. 

Then, yes, Taylor Heinicke did Taylor Heinicke things, which included smooth movements in and out of the pocket, a creative chest pass to McLaurin and a well-placed touchdown to Logan Thomas. It'll be interesting to see how he fares when he's the main subject of an opponent's gameplan, but the quarterback undeniably has ability.

Ultimately, were the above players enough to cancel out the struggles of the majority of the roster? If they were, Washington wouldn't have a "1" in the loss column. So, a lot must improve.

That said, there is a little for Rivera to build on for Thursday's suddenly massive matchup with the Giants. Let's see what additions can be made to his project in Week 2.