Robservations: Week 9

New York Giants v Washington Football Team
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

After a pretty great victory two weeks ago against Dallas, you’d have thought the Washington Football Team was in prime position to even the score with an equally unimpressive New York Giants team and find themselves back in the hunt with the Eagles for the NFC East title, but like me, you were hoodwinked. Bamboozled even. 

The 23-20 Giants victory was a disastrous performance by the Football Team, who have now lost to the Giants five straight times dating all the way back to the 2018-19 season. That’s pretty sad considering the Giants have been a lifeless corpse of a franchise like us since their last Super Bowl run. They have just two winning seasons since that Super Bowl win, but you wouldn’t have guessed that if you only watched these two teams play each other every year. 

Washington now sits at 2-6 with a must-win game against Detroit coming up. I’ll remind you that Washington is somehow still second in the division despite the loss, but they’re going to not only need a win this week, but need the Giants to beat the Eagles to put Washington a half game back of first place. It’s not impossible considering the Eagles won by just one point in their last meeting, but the Giants haven’t beaten any team not named the Washington Football Team this year, so we’re going to have to do a little praying. 

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, we still need to talk about this disasterclass of a performance from Ron Rivera’s group, who let Daniel Jones look about as competent as I’ve seen him this year. That’s probably a good place to start. 

We made Daniel Jones look competent 

If there is a reason the Giants don’t look for a new quarterback this offseason, it’ll be because they watched his tape against this team. 

Not that he was particularly great in either game, but he sure was good enough to win. Besides one interception in the first meeting, we just seem to be the only team this guy plays that lets him have a decent day free of costly mistakes. He didn’t have one turnover this game, and that’s kind of sad because this is a man known almost exclusively for turning the ball over. He has 13 turnovers in nine games and we managed to let him get the ball out quick and just look like a normal, average quarterback. 

Now credit where credit’s due, he made a few nice throws and actually took some pretty heavy pressure throughout the game, so it’s not like he had a clean pocket every play and was just killing us. He ended up getting sacked five times on 15 total pressures which is pretty rough. He actually held onto the ball on one sack late in the game by Kam Curl on his blindside that would have proved very costly for the Giants, so hats off to him for stepping up against the team I happen to follow. 

I was disappointed that this defense couldn’t get at least one takeaway though. This seemed like a golden opportunity after the Dallas game to continue getting some momentum on that side of the ball, but instead they just couldn’t force mistakes out of the Giants. 

Speaking of mistakes…

The turnover battle cost us the game 

Jesus, help me. What a disastrous game for this team in the turnover battle. You simply cannot win a football game when you give the ball away five times while the opposition plays mistake-free, it just can’t happen. The fact that it was still just a three-point loss says a lot about New York, but my god what a shitshow. 

The first half gave us a whole plethora of mistakes from this team. We had an opening drive fumble that would fit great in a Three Stooges short, we had a muffed punt by Isaiah Wright and we had the first of many Alex Smith interceptions after J.D. McKissic fell as Smith went for the checkdown. We were in field goal range on that last one by the way; we definitely could have used three more points in this three-point loss. 

The second half wasn’t nearly as bad though. In fact, the offense looked pretty great for most of it. Smith was really efficient in this offense, leading three scoring drives and bringing this team back from a 20-3 halftime deficit. He was quick with his decision-making, he moved around the pocket well and he actually made some really nice down-the-field strikes that he was generally hesitant to make in Jay Gruden’s offense. 

About 70% of Smith’s performance warranted something like a B or a B+ grade, but the other 30% is the predominant reason for this loss. His two fourth quarter interceptions were absolutely backbreaking and so hilariously ill-advised that I can’t help but cringe after rewatching them. I have absolutely no idea what Smith was thinking on either of those throws. 

The first one is the one that really drives me nuts. I get that it’s 3rd-and-10 on the Giants 40 and that they want to set Dustin Hopkins up with the closest field goal possible, but just running the ball for a short gain would’ve been enough for me. It probably would’ve been a 50+ kick with a kicker I have little confidence in, but that’s so much better a move than letting Smith scramble outside the pocket and heave an overthrown ball towards McKissic, who would’ve probably only gotten back to the line of scrimmage anyway. I could not believe a quarterback as historically conservative as Smith would make that decision. I was baffled. 

The second one was a far worse throw, but by then my confidence in him to drive back down the field completely shrank. Washington actually had enough time to pull it off too, but Smith quickly squandered those dreams. I don’t know what he saw on that throw, but there were two defenders around Terry McLaurin and Smith decided to hell with it and threw an absolute bullet right at the numbers of Logan Ryan anyway. 

With Kyle Allen done for the year after a terrible ankle injury (get well soon, pal), it looks like we’ll be rolling with Smith for the rest of the year. Would I like to see Dwayne Haskins back out there for one last chance? You bet your ass I would, but Rivera seems to trust Smith is healthy enough and proficient enough in this offense to keep them competitive. That’s fine, I get it, Smith will probably be a decent starter for the rest of the season, but another turnover-filled game like this will definitely raise the question as to who is the best option to finish off the season.

Our run defense is still an issue

Alright one last rant and then we’ll get to the positives. 

I don’t really get this defense. The pass rush is great, our secondary has been surprisingly strong and the run defense is one the worst in the league. I need help understanding this. 

There have been games were I knew we’d really struggle against the run (see: Ravens, Browns, Cardinals, Rams), but struggling against a Giants team that is without Saquon Barkley is absurd. 

And guess who ended up gashing us this week? Our old friend Alfred Morris. To be fair, I still love Morris a lot, he’s actually one of my favorite players to play in Washington in my lifetime, but it’s not like he’s been amazing since he left. He had a few nice seasons in Dallas, and he got some time in San Francisco a little bit ago, but he isn’t the same dynamic back that we remember. It didn’t appear that was the case on Sunday though, as he finished with 67 yards on just nine carries. He was just killing us on every carry while also breaking my precious little heart in the process. 

Something needs to be done in this department. My guess is the linebacker group is more to blame than our defensive line, but Jack Del Rio has to figure it out because if we can’t stop the tandem of Morris and Wayne Gallman than we’re really going to struggle with Adrian Peterson and D’Andre Swift when we head to Detroit this week. 

The section where I applaud the guys who didn’t suck 

It’s been another negative week of Robservations, but hey, it wasn’t all bad. In fact we had a few guys that really played well in this game. Let’s give a few of them a shout out real quick. 

Terry McLaurin: Another incredible performance from Scarance Terrance, who had the best play of the day when he caught an Alex Smith deep ball in traffic and ran for a 68-yard touchdown to make it a one-score game. Even outside of that big play he was great, wracking up 115 yards on seven catches while being targeted eight times. Imagine what he could accomplish on a good team. 

Cam Sims: This is the second time I’ve mentioned Sims’ name on this section and both of them were against the Giants. I’m glad Sims is finally getting some targets after impressing in training camp the last few seasons. He might actually be able to make a case for being the team’s No. 2 receiver, both this year and maybe even beyond. He’s the kind of big target we’ve lacked with Kelvin Harmon out, and I think he has pretty good speed as well. This was the best game of his career, hauling in three catches for 110 yards. He seemed to have a nice rapport with Smith, so maybe this will be a connection we can get used to for a bit? We can only hope. 

The entire defensive line: It’s not necessary to single everyone out because this whole unit looked good. The Giants made it a priority to get the ball out quick, but the line put up some good pressure throughout. I thought Tim Settle looked good while also finishing with a nice sack, Da’Ron Payne and Jon Allen looked good like usual and Chase Young recorded another sack while handling some…uh…special attention.

J.D. McKissic: This ended up being a pretty nice signing this offseason. I’ve mostly been a fan of McKissic’s play this year, and this week was another good outing for him. While not doing much in the run game, he caused problems for the defense as a receiver. Finishing with nine catches for 65 yards, McKissic is continuing to prove that he’s a threat even on something as simple as a checkdown. Considering Alex Smith is a checkdown king, McKissic might be a solid fantasy option if you’re in a pinch. 

The off-topic section

I thought it’d be fun to mix it up with these blogs by including a section that is completely unrelated to the Washington Football Team. I figured this can be a space where I can discuss just anything interesting that I find on a week-to-week basis, whether it be a movie I found interesting or maybe an article I liked. Just something to keep things fresh.

This week, I want to talk about the legendary, almost mythical awfulness of NBA Elite 11. If you’re unfamiliar, NBA Elite was an attempt by EA Sports to rebrand the NBA Live series as 2K became the clearly superior series of basketball video games. The game’s two big innovations were its switch to right analog-centric ball control and it’s “Be a Pro” mode similar to what the Madden series did with its “Superstar Mode.” 

Those both sound pretty cool, but the funny thing about this game is that it never actually got released. That’s because of what happened with its demo. The demo had widely publicized issues, including numerous glitches and difficult-to-learn controls. One particular glitch involving former Lakers big man Andrew Bynum is the reason I’m even including this in this section. 

Ever heard of Jesus Bynum? If not, let me explain. For some reason, Bynum’s character model would glitch out and end up at mid-court in what’s technically called a bind pose but looks more like Jesus on the crucifix for the entirety of the game. It’s absolutely hilarious. The first video I found of someone finding out about this glitch made me laugh so incredibly hard that a coworker asked if I was okay because I was crying so much. It’s legitimately the strangest glitch I’ve ever seen and I cannot get enough of it. There are a bunch of videos of people playing this demo and experiencing some type of ridiculous glitch, but nothing beats Jesus Bynum. 

The demo was so poorly received and so heavily criticized that EA ended up just canceling the game outright despite giving the game a ton of pre-release press. 

There are allegedly only about 100 copies of the game in circulation, with roughly 20-30 being sold online as rare collector’s items. I actually saw one that was sold for $10,000 which is some great money for a broken game. Anyway, I found this interesting and quite hysterical, and it needed to be shared with whoever reads these blogs. 

That about wraps it up for this week. Our game against Detroit should be an interesting one with a lot of implications. For one thing, Detroit is about as average as they always are so it’s not clear who is the favorite for this one, but it’s certainly winnable for us. A loss not only crushes our playoff hopes even further, but it pushes us into some very interesting territory in the draft order. 
Currently, we sit at the No. 5 spot with the Giants and Cowboys in front of us. The Giants have the Eagles this week, and the Cowboys are on a bye, so it’ll be hard to see us moving up with a loss unless the Giants win, but it’s still possible. Regardless, this is a very deep quarterback class and sitting anywhere in the top-5 gives us some interesting questions to tackle this offseason. We’ll get more into it if the Lions game ends in a loss. I’ll see you all next week for another edition of Robservations.

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