An offseason of high expectations ran into a dose of reality when the Los Angeles Chargers pulled off an impressive win at FedEx Field. The Chargers were the more aggressive team and had the better game plan that attacked Washington on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a final look back at Sunday’s game.
- Running Game- Antonio Gibson has made a significant jump from his rookie year to this year. Gibson looked like an NFL running back on Sunday and was the feature of the offense. Gibson showed patience in reading his blocks and a burst to get through the hole or bounce it outside. Although the team missed on some screens the issue wasn’t with Gibson. Gibson finished with 20 carries for 90 yards and 3 receptions for 18 yards.
- William Jackson III- The big defensive free agent signing was spectacular yesterday. Jackson showed an affinity for being physical playing press man coverage and excelled at it yesterday. Jackson’s interception gave the team momentum and a crucial red zone stop. Jackson also had two passes defended and four tackles.
- Fans at FedEx- It was a wonderful sight to see a parking lot full of fans tailgating and s solidly full stadium Sunday. The weather was also perfect and the fans were engaged in the game throughout. With all the changes over the last 18 months, fans were a welcomed sight to all involved.
- Offensive Line- Outside of Chase Roullier, the line did not have a good performance Sunday. The team did run the ball pretty well but pass blocking needs a lot of work. The tackles Charles Leno and Samuel Cosmi were beaten numerous time off the edge. Joey Bosa won his one on one matchup with Cosmi often while Leno was beaten by Nwosu on the sack when Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured. And Brandon Scherff had two costly penalties which stalled what ended up being the final offensive drive of the game. This group must perform better if the team has a shot to compete.
- Defensive Third Downs- The defensive last year gave up 38% conversion rate on third downs. On Sunday the Chargers were 14 of 19 on third down. The defense simply couldn’t stop the Chargers when it mattered the most. Short, medium, or long distance it did not matter at all. The most egregious of these was the 3rd and 16 late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and the Chargers backed up, they converted. The Chargers also converted two more third downs on that drive to ice the game. The defense just has to get better here to win games.
- Kendall Fuller- A lot of players had a bad games on Sunday but probably the worst was Kendall Fuller. The Chargers had a game plan to get Fuller isolated on their bigger receivers and it worked to perfection. Fuller is more suited for the slot and has trouble with bigger receivers on the outside. That is part of the reason the team let Ronald Darby walk, signed William Jackson III, and drafted Ben St. Juste. Fuller will have better days but Sunday was a tough game for him.
- Momentum Swings- In a very exciting 3rd quarter Washington took the lead but the Chargers were driving to take the lead back early in the 4th. William Jackson III made a spectacular interception after a missed field goal to give the team momentum. It took just one play for Washington to give it right back with an Antonio Gibson fumble. That ended up being the game right there. Last season Washington took advantages of those situations, they must do it again this year.
- Defensive Rotations- One of the more confusing aspects of Sunday’s game was the rotations of the defensive line. On key situations and a lot of third downs the starters weren’t in the game. This also assisted the Chargers in converting third downs when Chase Young, Montez Sweat, or Jonathan Allen weren’t on the field. There is some positive to having players fresh and rested, however in key situations the best players have to be on the field.
- Offensive Play Calling- While Antonio Gibson had a solid game, the offense did not look explosive on Sunday. While the offensive line struggled in straight drop backs, Scott Turner did not scheme for his best players. If you look at how the Chargers moved Keenan Allen around and forced him the ball. Turner needs to do that for Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, with Taylor Heinicke’s mobility can be an assest.
Lucky for Washington it is a short week so this game can be forgotten quickly with a victory over the New York Giants. While Daniel Jones has been a Washington killer, he is not Justin Herbert and they don’t have a Keenan Allen as well. Washington needs to dominate and get an NFC East victory because an 0-2 start to the season will be disastrous.