The Washington Football Team was defeated by the Buffalo Bills (43-21) on Sept. 26. (Courtesy Photo)
By Mark F. Gray
Special to the AFRO
If nothing else, the Washington Football Team showed how much the culture has changed since Ron Rivera took over. At least when the Burgundy and Gold is getting blown out they won’t quit. In a game that was billed as “a measuring stick” they couldn’t measure up.
Washington fought with honor in Buffalo last Sunday, but still were executed by a championship contender 43-21. They fought back from an early two touchdown hole with an offense featuring a journeyman quarterback who played his worst game as a starter. Their underperforming defense was missing in action and dropped to 23rd in total defense after taking a giant leap backward following a fourth place finish last year.
Even the most ardent supporter of the Football Team couldn’t duck the harsh reality that this team was overrated for the first month of the regular season. There are more answers after the beatdown by the Bills and the lingering stench of the team being unprepared and unable to make adjustments that are turning the rosey hopes for postseason into a landfill of disappointment.
”We’ve got a long way to go,” Rivera said. ”We got our butts kicked. That’s the truth and we’ll find out what we’re made out of. How we respond will dictate what kind of team we’re going to be down the stretch.”
Washington had already allowed a combined 815 yards of offense in their first two games against the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants. They yielded 481 yards of offense and 29 first downs to Buffalo. The Bills rendered the hapless unit the team was supposed to be built on into the most overrated unit in the NFL. After the latest defensive fiasco the Football Team has allowed 1291 yards of total offense in three games.
With a Super Bowl coach in Ron Rivera, who played for one of the greatest defenses ever with the 1985 Chicago Bears, the performance of what was to be considered the strength of the team is their greatest disappointment. Blown coverages and the lingering plague of not being able to stop teams on third down are met with the same excuses as the calendar turns to October following a forgettable September.
When NFL quarterbacks are looking for a stimulus package, the Washington defense is a government bailout. After the unit gave up 14 first down conversions on 19 opportunities to open the season against the Chargers, Chase Young’s disappearing acts continued as he waited to collect his first sack of the season.
The Bills quarterback Josh Allen led Buffalo to a 21-0 lead before defensive and special teams mistakes allowed Washington to score twice in a span of 2:12 late in the first half. Allen finished 32 of 43 for 358 yards and four touchdowns after publicly doubting himself in reports earlier in the week.
The true colors of quarterback Taylor Heinicke came to light where his wonderful story has come to an end. After a full week of practice with the first team, Heinicke finally proved he won’t be leading any team from the nation’s capital to the playoffs. Heinicke finished the game 14/24 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first time starting on the road. He figures to be fun to watch, but not win too many games.
Nonetheless, with 14 games and a trip to Atlanta looming, Washington has a chance to get back to .500 with a victory on Sunday. The Falcons are in the same position that Washington is where they are stuck on the corner of Bad Street and Mediocre Blvd.
In a league now built on parity, this is what you get!
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