Robservations: Week 2

NFL: Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Consider this week a wake-up, people. Though the win over Philly was a great way to start this season off, we saw where this team is truly at against a far superior Arizona Cardinals team. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I mean we knew a game like this was coming eventually, but it does show us that this team absolutely has a long way to go and that we have to adjust expectations accordingly. 

The truth is, I actually really like this Cardinals team. They’ve got an absolute beast of a signal-caller in Kyler Murray, one of the most unstoppable wideouts in the game in DeAndre Hopkins and a young and talented defense led by Vance Joseph. This is a team ready to win now despite being in the absolutely wild NFC West. This was a great litmus test for Washington, who didn’t necessarily play well, but showed the same resilience we saw last week, albeit in a game that was pretty much over by the fourth quarter. 

Let’s jump into the nitty gritty and see what went right and what went wrong in this week’s edition of Robservations. 

Troy Apke is still terrible at his job 

Yeah I’m starting with you, Troy. This guy cannot be the answer at free safety. Brian Mitchell said Apke has “cement in his shoes” and I’d be inclined to agree. The man runs the slowest 4.3 I’ve ever seen. 

The deep ball completed to Andy Isabella has been the main play people have looked to this week to showcase Apke’s lack of field awareness, but this has been a thing his entire career. What’s the point of having elite straight-line speed if you can’t even use it properly as a single-high safety? 

I’d be shocked if he makes it to Week 5 with a starting job on this team. He’s just a total liability, and it makes it hard to use Landon Collins the way Jack Del Rio wants if they can’t trust Apke to handle his role as the last line of defense in the secondary. 

So it begs the question, what are the alternatives? 

Well, Kamren Curl has certainly shown some promise. The seventh-round pick from Arkansas didn’t have the most glowing college tape I’ve ever seen, but from what I can tell in his short time in Washington, the guy is a pretty capable safety. He definitely takes better angles as a tackler, but in coverage I think he’s fared reasonably well so far. 

Another option might even be Kendall Fuller, who has yet to play in his second stint in Washington due to a knee injury. Fuller is a different player from what he was in his first stint. Kansas City had him all over the place during the Super Bowl run, with him having success as both a slot corner and as a safety in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. Perhaps he can be the man at the position permanently when he returns. 

All I’m saying is there are more intriguing options at the position than Apke, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Rivera go another route sooner rather than later. 

The holes on offense were on full display all game 

We’ll chalk this up as a generally bad day for the offense. It’s hard to really pinpoint one particular area to blame because it was pretty much a combination of poor quarterback play, a lack of receiving options and a porous offensive line. 

Haskins was really beaten down by the pressure today, getting an average of just 2.38 seconds to throw which is good for the third worst in the league this week. This line has allowed pressure on 35.1% of his dropbacks so far this season. That is outrageous. I’m getting Jason Campbell vibes just thinking about how little help Haskins is getting from this group. 

It doesn’t help that he also struggled on plays where he did have a clean pocket though. Haskins’ footwork is still an issue and he still looks like someone getting used to playing under center. We obviously still have to be patient with his progress, but it’s worrying that he still can’t connect on throws that should be easy for an NFL quarterback. His accuracy is all over the place. 

It’s also obvious that this receiving group we currently have is not helping besides the always dynamic Terry McLaurin, who basically becomes the offense’s lone source of productivity at times. Just looking at the distribution of completions shows how reliant this offense is on McLaurin: 

Scott Turner has been talking up the ability to use Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic in the passing game all offseason, but I have yet to see either of them actually really be used at all in that department. I feel straight up lied to! 

We knew this offense would struggle against strong defenses this year, but we need to at least see a little more from them when the game isn’t out of reach. 

There were bright spots to be found in this game 

Yeah I’ve been complaining a lot so far, but there are positives I took away from this game. 

I thought the defense played as well as they could against a quarterback as dynamic as Murray. I had a feeling he’d be too much to handle regardless of how good our defensive line is, and that was mostly the case, but they did have success in at least forcing him to leave the pocket. The team forced pressure on Murray on 33% of his dropbacks which is a positive, and they did pick up three sacks on the day, but it was only a matter of time before Murray broke out on some big runs. His two touchdown scrambles were disheartening, but also the guy is just an incredibly gifted runner, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be doing things like that against every defense he plays this season. 

The secondary as a whole also wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t necessarily bad either. DeAndre Hopkins was going to beat anyone he went up against and that man was mostly Jimmy Moreland, who struggled to contain the All-Pro wide receiver. Landon Collins’ interception was impressive although it didn’t necessarily amount to anything because of Haskins’ fumble in the red zone. I’m just glad we don’t have to play this receiving group again. 

I was generally happy with how the linebackers played as well. I thought Jon Bostic played a nice game and got a solid highlight-reel sack on Murray. Kevin Pierre-Louis was especially impressive, displaying that ranginess and sideline-to-sideline speed that I was excited about when we picked him up. I think he’s someone this fanbase is going to come to like throughout this season. 

I also want to give a quick shout out to the run blocking this week, which was surprisingly solid. Gibson and McKissic both put together a string of nice chunk-yardage runs that reminded me that the running game is one of the more promising aspects of the offense. The blocking on this McKissic run was particularly impressive, with Wes Martin pulling really well to open up a good running lane. Martin did the exact same thing on Gibson’s touchdown run as well. I’m happy with the effort in that department. 

That’s it for me this week. It wasn’t the best time watching this week’s game, but I am excited to see this team’s response in a winnable game next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who are fresh off a shootout victory over the Bengals last Thursday. I’ll see you next week for another edition of Robservations.

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