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Expectations were high for the Washington Football Team after a storybook season and NFC East title last year. Unfortunately, they did not live up to those expectations in a lackluster season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers that led to a 20-16 loss at FedEx Field.
For a team that did not play their starters in the preseason, the Chargers executed seamlessly. They surprisingly picked apart Washington’s coveted defense, allowing Justin Herbert to complete 31 of 47 passes for 337 yards and one touchdown.
With Washington only mustering up two sacks, Herbert had plenty of time to makes plays, as the defensive line was unable to consistently pressure the quarterback. The linebackers struggled to protect the middle of the field, especially through the air, making Keenan Allen particularly lethal with 100 receiving yards on the day.
Washington also allowed the Chargers to convert 14 of 19 third downs. This is the most third down conversions the Football Team has allowed since 1991. Missed assignments and blown coverages seemed to be the main culprit in the defensive woes.
“I see a bunch of errors we made,” Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said. “There were wrong assignments. Rushers were not doing the little things we’ve done in practice. The defensive line has to play better.”
Another misfortune for Washington was the loss of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first half. After three drives and Washington down 10-6, Fitzpatrick took a big hit that resulted in a hip injury.
Taylor Heinicke took over and helped the team make some progress on offense. Heinicke’s highlights include a five-play, 45-yard drive that resulted in a 48-yard field goal. He also threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Logan Thomas. Heinicke completed 11 of 15 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown.
Antonio Gibson had a solid game on the ground, rushing for 90 yards. However, Gibson’s fourth quarter fumble immediately following a Washington interception opened the door for a 20-16 Chargers game-winning touchdown.
Washington will have to approach this week with a short memory and quickly clean up their mistakes. Next up is their achilles’ heel and division rival New York Giants on Thursday September 16th at FedEx Field.