In Week 2’s loss to Arizona, I wasn’t mad with the 15-point loss to a clearly better team, but yesterday was quite frankly a bit of a different story. Washington’s 34-20 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns was a frustrating display of self-made errors that essentially gifted the game to a Browns team that I don’t necessarily see as significantly better than Washington.
Considering next week is a matchup with an absolutely stacked Baltimore Ravens team, it was kind of important for this team to show up and get a good result against an opponent closer to their level before going up against a straight-up Super Bowl contender. What’s worse is that this team was pretty much in this game up until Cleveland made it an 11-point game in the fourth quarter.
I suppose we should get into this game right? Okay, fine.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
Who could have possibly predicted that committing five turnovers in a close game would result in a loss? I sure wouldn’t have guessed that outcome. The fact that four of those turnovers resulted in 24 points and a bunch of short fields for Cleveland is probably the saddest aspect of this game. It 100% was the reason we lost this game.
I would probably consider this Dwayne Haskins’ worst performance in his young career when you consider not only how bad the interceptions were, but also who the interceptions were against. They were playing a defense that allowed at least 30 points in their last two games, one of which against the Bengals. It’s not fair to place all the blame on one player for a team’s loss because that’s just not how this game works, but I’d say Haskins should receive the majority of the blame. All three interceptions were extreme examples of poor decision making and they all led to easy scoring opportunities for the Browns.
The third interception is perhaps the most egregious. I really have no idea what he was trying to do here, but he pretty much locked his eyes on a well-covered target and tried to fire it in anyway. We cannot have mistakes like this, period.
I think the sad part about all of this is Haskins actually started out pretty well in this game and even threw two pretty impressive touchdowns. The first one to Dontrelle Inman was a beautiful play. He had time in the pocket, he set his feet and he lofted a gorgeous ball right into Inman’s chest. It’s the kind of play I’ve desperately wanted to see from Haskins this season. Too bad it came in a game that had way more bad than good.
I also won’t fault Haskins on the Myles Garrett strip-sack because that was all on Geron Christian. The consistently terrible left tackle looked like a total turnstile as Garrett easily drove past him for a free hit on Haskins. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Christian should not be a starting left tackle in this league. Plain and simple.
The injury bug finally hit Washington
We had a good run compared to some other teams in the league, but the injuries really came in full force this week. The first and most hard-hitting blow to the team came early on when Matt Ioannidis left and was immediately ruled out in the first quarter. That injury was later diagnosed as a torn bicep which will probably end his season. I don’t even know what to say, it’s terrible news. We’re losing arguably our most dominant interior lineman three weeks into the season.
To add even more salt in the wound was Chase Young’s injury which also led him to being ruled out for the game as soon as he left it. I didn’t see much to warrant a ton of worry for his injury being a long-term deal, but what kind of luck is that? Losing two of our most important players on the front seven in the span of five minutes? Absolutely heartbreaking. Luckily Young only suffered a strained groin which could leave him out for a week or so, but it’s still just awful luck.
I’m also not sure on Inman’s condition after injuring his hand in the fourth quarter. It appears he avoided a fracture which is good, but I think we’ll be hearing more either today or later in the week about his progress. Inman was having pretty much a career game with his two touchdown catches so let’s all hope he gets a speedy recovery.
If nothing else, Montez Sweat is legit
Alright here’s the one clear positive from this game: Montez Sweat was simply fantastic in Chase Young’s absence. He was constantly in the backfield forcing Mayfield out of the pocket and made life difficult for rookie tackle Jedrick Wills.
Sweat has been pretty solid in general this season, but today was by far his best showing. I love how much he’s grown since his rookie year. Last year when he wasn’t having to drop back in coverage, he still relied a bit too much on pure athleticism to get past linemen, but we’ve seen him actually put the added muscle to good use. He’s using his hands much more effectively to neutralize linemen and as a result we’re seeing him blossom into a very promising defensive end.
My favorite play of his was actually against the run. He has a fantastic jump off the snap, throws Austin Hooper aside and stops Kareem Hunt dead in his tracks with a strong wrap-up tackle. It was one of many plays I saw from him that made me believe that we’re just beginning to see him scratch the surface of his potential. If nothing else, we saw one of our first-round picks prove he was worth the investment.
Alright, that’s enough ranting for one day. Unless we get demolished in some spectacular fashion next week, I probably won’t be too hard on the team, but yesterday’s result was just terrible. On the flip side, we are still technically first in the NFC East which is, uh, kind of cool I guess. Three weeks in and still in position to win the division? That’s the NFC East for ya.