Washington had everything in front of them yesterday to win the first division championship for the franchise since 2015, and they fell flat. The Carolina Panthers were the aggressors from the start and the team could never get over the hump. Dwayne Haskins and his performance was bad, however the loss was deeper than just his play. Let’s take a final look back at the game.
- Chase Young- I don’t know what else the kid can do prove his value as the second overall pick. Four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a second one which was initially a ruled a sack fumble but changed to an interception. Young shows leadership and effort the entire game. This is what you want from a franchise player and Young is consistently doing this. Also I believe he locked up Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
- JD McKissic- Much consternation was made with the free agent signings and McKissic fell into that category. On a roster full of running backs, McKissic has turned into a weapon as a receiving running back. McKissic had eight receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. Scott Turner needs to find ways to get him the ball more.
- Antonio Gibson- Returning from turf toe, Gibson looked exceptional yesterday. Gibson looked powerful, strong, and shifty in rushing for 61 yards on just ten carries. Gibson needs to run a lot next week to give the team the best chance for victory.
- Taylor Heinicke- The kid came in and looked good. True there wasn’t a scouting report on him, but he knew where players would be and threw some good passes. With a solid run game Heinicke looks like he can be ok in the offense. As long as he does not turn the ball over he gives Washington its best chance to win on Sunday. He will either be the starter or the backup depending on Alex Smith’s health.
- Dwayne Haskins- Haskins was terrible yesterday, there is no other way to say it. Haskins missed open receivers, threw some off-target passes, and made terrible decisions with the football. Now to be fair he was not helped by the play calling from Turner, they did not go uptempo or move the pocket for him, but he still by any metric wasn’t good. Haskins has regressed and the last week was his backbreaker with the franchise. Haskins is done in Washington.
- Stephen Sims Jr.- The game was a zero to zero slug of a game until Sims made a fatal mistake. His muffed punt at the end of the first quarter gave the Panthers a free touchdown they didn’t earn. Sims hasn’t fit well in Turner’s offense which is surprising how good he looked in Kevin O’Connell’s last year. Sims is electric with the football in his hands and Washington needs to use him more. That muffed punt started the avalanche against Washington and that can not happen.
- Big Plays- The offense struggled, and that could have been expected but the defense still has one achilles heel, the propensity to give up big plays. The defense gave up a 45 yard run to Curtis Samuel, a wide receiver which lead to the Panthers second touchdown, their first one on offense. Then on the next drive they gave up a 44 yard reception to Samuel on a third and seventeen that set up their final touchdown. Eliminate those two plays and it is a very different game.
- Refs- I usually don’t say much about officials but the crew yesterday did not have a good game. They let Haskins’s fumble go correctly which was good. However late in the third quarter after Washington got a field goal, the defense forced a fumble which was recovered by Jeremey Reaves most likely for a touchdown, was called back for by the refs for blowing the whistle. Then a holding call on a fourth and ten when Heinicke on his first drive that took away a touchdown. Washington did not play well but the refs did them no favors.
- Drop and Separation- Dwayne Haskins was not good yesterday but his receivers did not do him many favors. There were too many drops and times where receivers simply had no separation from defenders. Cam Sims had a drop from Haskins in the first half and a drop from Heinicke late in the game. Logan Thomas had one on a deep pass from Heinicke as well. Washington still needs to upgrade the receiver position in the offseason. Terry McLaurin was missed yesterday.
- Scott Turner- Turner is a new play caller but he still has things he can improve on. First Antonio Gibson was running the ball well and he became a non factor in the second half. In the first half McKissic was decoy and did not get the ball. The same thing with Logan Thomas. Turner needs to feature his play makers more and early on in the game. Slow starts cannot always be overcome.
- NFC East- By not winning yesterday Washington allowed the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys to stay alive for the division title. Washington has the easiest path by just winning against the Philadelphia Eagles they would win. If Washington loses then the Giants/Cowboys winner gets the division. With all the mess of this year, Washington can erase that with one more win.