The Washington Football Team fell behind 17-0 once again on Sunday. Unlike the opener vs. Philadelphia, there was no rally this time, just a lot of frustration -- and signs of how far they still need to go after a 30-15 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
In two weeks, Washington's rebuild can be fully seen: There are signs of an improving mindset; there's also evidence of a talent gap.
Falling behind 17-0. The defense, which needs to be the strength of this team, has now allowed scoring drives on the first possession in each game. And the offense takes a long time to get going -- too long. Some of it is youth; some of it is just talent. Washington coach Ron Rivera said last week that the offense would take a long time to mesh, and he is right. It's not just about experience; it's about needing more talent -- especially on the line. This is, after all, a rebuilding situation.
It's hard to fully judge Dwayne Haskins because of an offensive line that is too inexperienced on the left side. It's debatable whether tackle Geron Christian or guard Wes Martin will be anything more than short-term solutions, and the group is inconsistent all over. Haskins can improve his mechanics, but he has now made nine NFL starts and needs patience and more talent around him. However, he finished strong. But the bottom line is that Washington did little on offense until it was 20-0. Washington wants Haskins to be more consistent, but both he and the offense still have a ways to go.
Receiver Terry McLaurin. He did have one drop on a deep ball late in the game, but McLaurin is the one consistent performer on offense. Facing Arizona corner Patrick Peterson, McLaurin caught seven passes for 125 yards. Haskins knows he can rely on McLaurin, though he should have been targeted earlier -- Haskins didn't throw to him until 6:51 remained in the second quarter. McLaurin is a playmaker and runs away from defenders. Washington needs more of those type of players. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson showed flashes and continues to develop, but it was McLaurin who stood out.
With Washington on the Arizona 9-yard line, Haskins dropped back to pass -- but he was hit as he was about to throw, the ball popped out and the Cardinals recovered. Rather than going in to tie the game at 7, Washington blew its best chance. Arizona was better -- and Washington's defense didn't do its job either -- but when you're a young team, you can't blow chances like that. Especially with an explosive quarterback such as Kyler Murray on the other side.