Football Team

Hailey: Why you shouldn't worry about Washington's offense

Football Team

Under Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Washington Football Team's offense has produced the following results on six drives through two preseason games: Punt, missed field goal, punt, turnover on downs, lost fumble, field goal. Astute readers will notice that the word "touchdown" is missing from that summary of possessions. 

Even with the complete lack of end zone visits, though, it's not yet time to get too worked up about the group's potential for 2021.

In re-watching what the unit did against the Bengals on Friday night at FedEx Field, it wasn't like Fitzpatrick and his weapons were completely dormant. Instead, they were a little off in some key moments, and those moments are what separated them from more success.

At the end of their first foray versus Cincinnati, for example, Fitzpatrick located a wide-open Logan Thomas for what should've been a simple completion on third-and-seven and just flat-out missed him. And that error came right after Dyami Brown failed to come up with a low throw from his quarterback, one that wasn't in an ideal spot but was also certainly accurate enough considering Fitzpatrick was on the move in order to escape from pressure.

The next time out, Antonio Gibson and the offensive line were unable to get past the line to gain on a fourth-and-one. While some will take issue with coordinator Scott Turner calling for a shotgun handoff in that situation, that's a sequence that should lead to more snaps for the Burgundy and Gold and not in the opponent celebrating.

 

After Cam Sims put the ball on the ground to wrap up Washington's third chance, Fitzpatrick and Co. got one last opportunity, and this one showed progress — as well as a need for more progress. The home side advanced deep into Bengals' territory thanks to a Gibson screen and a gorgeous back-shoulder toss to Brown, but then more small misses occurred.

First, Fitzpatrick sailed a ball over Thomas' head after the tight end had shaken free. Had they connected, it would've been a six-pointer. A few plays later, Fitzpatrick missed high and hot again while targeting Adam Humphries, who had found some room and also would've scored. A Dustin Hopkins field goal followed, and after that, the backups were inserted.

After reviewing the film on Saturday morning, Ron Rivera spoke to reporters and delivered his thoughts about the performance.

"The thing that was kind of pleasing and yet still disappointing was Fitzy made great decisions," he said. "Unfortunately, the execution part, the ball was just a little bit out of a reach."

In some instances, a coach will try to protect his guys too much after a lackluster outing, but in this particular press conference, Rivera's assessment feels exactly right.

More often than not, Fitzpatrick will be more accurate when looking for Thomas on that medium third down or when his receivers get loose by the goal line. Friday, however, proved to be the exception.

Still, don't let those misfires induce major panic.

In fact, forget about them for a few paragraphs. Let's focus elsewhere right now.

Remember when Sam Cosmi was in a slump to begin training camp? Well, the second-round pick has really held his own at right tackle in his first two matchups against real foes. 

Brown, meanwhile, whom the franchise selected after Cosmi, has impressed all summer, too. His 30-yard grab over a Cincy DB is the sort of chunk gain he can add all year long.

Jaret Patterson has gone from a charming story to someone who may have a true role on offense. Every time his number has been called this month, he's done something notable.

Then there's Thomas, Gibson and Terry McLaurin, steady and scary contributors who'll be responsible for a pile of highlights this fall and winter. 

If Fitzpatrick is still having issues by, say, Week 4 and Washington is still struggling when it's drive-finishing o'clock, then OK, vent away.

Until then, realize that the Cincinnati contest was more about slip-ups than it was about a hopeless collection of talent-less players. An increase in attention to detail moving forward should also create an increase in points.