Washington Football Team Mid-Season Progress Report: Offense
The Washington Football Team is on a bye week with some much needed confidence going into this next stretch of games. When they return, they play the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and then the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. These next four games are all winnable. Right now, they are a half game back of the division lead behind the Eagles who are 2-4-1. The coaching staff has to be encouraged by the team as they have shown signs of life in the last two games. Much of that can be attributed to the level of competition no doubt, but the team also made some adjustments and took care of business against a division rival. If I had to describe the first half of the Washington Football Team's season in one word, it would be "inconsistent". In spurts, different position groups have played well, and then played poorly at other times. I'm going to break down each position group on offense, and explain what grade I gave them for their overall performance through the first 7 games.
Washington has played all three quarterbacks 7 games into the season. The opening day starter was Dwayne Haskins who played below average in his four starts, and the team went 1-3 in those games. Haskins threw for 939 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Underwhelming numbers to say the least. Haskins was subsequently benched in favor of the current starter, Kyle Allen who is 1-2 (was knocked out of the Rams game in the first half) as the starter. Allen has thrown for 548 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception thus far this season. The team has been able to sustain drives more so than when Haskins was leading the offense. Part of this can be attributed to the caliber of teams Allen has been able to face, but the fact is the offense has looked much more formidable with him under center. That's not to say that Haskins story has finished being told in Washington. He may get another opportunity and will need to be ready when and if the time comes. GRADE: C-
The running back unit has been inconsistent yet very effective at times. Rookie Antonio Gibson has proven to be a solid running back that looks to be improving as the games go by. He is very versatile running in between the tackles and outside. He can line up in the slot, and run routes as a wide receiver, which creates matchup nightmares for the defense. JD McKissic has been a solid contributor in relief of Antonio Gibson. He possesses some of the same abilities Gibson has, so the team doesn't lose much in its ability to run what it wants when McKissic is in the game. He has proven to be a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers, because he runs routes like a wide receiver. Peyton Barber has played in spots, but when he gets in the game, he has served as a runner that gets north-south fast and gets hard earned yards falling forward. He most likely will be the short yardage back as the season continues, but he has proven he can play on any down and distance. The other great thing about this unit is they can all pass-block and pick up blitzes. GRADE: B+
The wide receiver core has overall been disappointing because they have been unable to find consistent production out of anybody not named Terry McLaurin. The team was hoping rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden would be able to make instant contributions, but his development has come along much slower than anticipated. Steven Sims, Jr. looks to have regressed some and now is plagued with a foot injury. Dontrelle Inman and Isaiah Wright don't look as if they are anything special. That's not to say things can't change in the second half of the season. Right now, this unit has not been impressive outside of the tremendous Terry McLaurin who has single handedly kept me from failing this group. GRADE: D
The tight end position is one that needs to be upgraded. Current starter Logan Thomas looks to be formidable the more he plays, but he is nothing more than a solid backup. Washington can get away with him as the starter if they can get some others within the offense to step up. Right now, Thomas has the second most targets on the team with 40, and the rest of the tight ends including Jeremy Sprinkle, Marcus Baugh, and Temarrick Hemingway COMBINED have a total of 5 targets all season long. GRADE: D
The offensive line is definitely one of the harder position groups to grade because so much goes into evaluating their performance. How do they block one on one? How do they run block? How do they pick up blitzes? How much are they penalized? Washington under the last coaching regime was always at the top of the league in penalties. This year, they are seventh in the league and the majority have not come from the offensive line. They have cut down on the holding calls and the false starts. They have struggled with run blocking in spurts as well as pass blocking, but the quarterbacks whether Haskins or Allen have tended to bail out too early at times giving the illusion that there isn't a pocket to step up into. Overall, with the injuries up and down the line and the constant shifting of bodies in and out, the offensive line hasn't completely let the team down outside of that despicable performance against the Rams. If Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff can stay healthy, and Saadiq Charles proves he can be stout at left guard, this group could end the season being a stronger than expected unit. GRADE: C+
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/The Washington Football Team