The Washington Football Team is riding the wave of a four-game winning streak led by quarterback Alex Smith who is now 4-1 as the starter this season. Smith has been the unquestioned leader of the team during this Washington run, but last week was replaced by Dwayne Haskins after a calf injury that would not allow him to continue. Haskins came into the game with a lead and he did enough to keep it albeit his play was shaky. That's not to say that all of that was on Haskins because he was put in some tough situations by the play calling of offensive coordinator Scott Turner. Haskins did not take snaps with the starting unit last week, and had not played in live action since game number 4. Turner will have his hands full game-planning for Haskins as he was named the starter against the Seattle Seahawks this week.
Contrary to what many may believe, this is not a "must win" game for Washington, but it will definitely help their case for a division title if they win. That said, Haskins is essentially playing with house money. Whether he wins or loses this game will not matter to head coach Ron Rivera. What Rivera is looking at is Haskins leadership and preparation leading up to the game and how it translates to his performance and everyone else's around him. Nobody in the locker room doubts Haskins' ability or talent. It just needs to transfer into his performance on the field. His mental preparation and poise will be tested Sunday and this is his chance to prove he deserves to be part of the Washington future. Scott Turner will need to do some of the things Haskins feels comfortable doing and incorporate that into his game plan. Haskins has some athleticism and can throw the ball downfield; utilize that and make the Seattle defensive backs earn their paychecks rather than shortening the field and making them only honor what's in front of them.
Scott Turner has done some good things for the Washington offense this season with Alex Smith as the quarterback, but it seems like when he finds his niche play-calling wise, he regresses and the offense is stagnated once again. The Washington offense may be limited talent wise, but they do not utilize the athletes that they do have to their fullest potential. One name that comes to mind is Steven Sims Jr. Sims Jr. has been a complete disappointment this season. Catching the football has been an issue for him and he has been unable to find that explosive gear Washington fans saw late in the 2019 season. Sims is without a doubt a talent, but it's up to Scott Turner to maximize his use and find ways to get the ball in his hands. Sims Jr.'s lack of production isn't all on Turner because he has struggled to catch the football consistently, but that's why they need to coach the kid up. Keep going to him and find ways where he can help the team where he isn't hurting it. Teams are now focusing on Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, so Washington needs to get production elsewhere like they saw from Cam Sims in the Pittsburgh Steeler game. Nobody is mistaking the Washington offensive weapons for the Greatest Show on Turf, but they have enough talent and speed where if maximized, they can put some points on the board.
The only way Washington is going to have a chance this week is if they are able to keep pace with Seattle offensively. The Washington defense has been playing great football, but they can't expect that type of dominance every week especially going up against a quarterback the caliber of Seattle's Russell Wilson. Wilson is arguably one of the top three quarterbacks playing the game today and already has over 3600 yards passing and 36 touchdowns. Their offensive unit has put up at least 30 points 8 times this season. Washington will have to be creative in finding ways to keep pace and take some chances offensively. Seattle is going to expect Washington to throw a lot of short, quick passes underneath, so the screen game and passes in the flats could be negated this week unless Washington is able to make Seattle defend the entire field. Washington is yet to score a point on the opening drive of any possession this season. The first half against Seattle will be key. Washington has to find a way to get a couple scores on the board early because they can't afford to play from behind against a team this good offensively.
Washington will have their hands full Sunday, but it is yet another winnable game if they continue to stay stout defensively, and the offense provides them with a spark by putting points on the board. Scott Turner has to do something to ignite the offense like he did against the Cowboys. That's the sign of a coach that is doing whatever he needs to do in order to win a football game. We will see if the offense can carry its weight this week because at some point the defense is going to suffer a let down and will need the offense to pick up the slack. I will be tuned in and watching. As you were...
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team