Well, we have reached the midway point of the 2021 season, and Washington’s record is a sad 2-6.
To be clear, I did not see this coming. I expected Washington to have a winning record by this point of the season. So, yes, this is shocking.
I realized now that losing Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first game of the season was the canary in the coal mine for Washington.
Taylor Heinicke has had some good moments and some pretty awful ones, but it is not all on him. The entire team has underperformed.
However, the biggest disappointment has been how inconsistent this defense has performed in these first 9 weeks. Chase Young and Montez Sweat were supposed to be a dominant two-punch combo, but they have not lived up to the hype.
In retrospect, it was stupid to let Ryan Kerrigan go; his veteran experience is needed. However, moving Landon Collins to a hybrid role between linebacker slash safety seems to be the right move.
Antonio Gibson has been dealing with a shin injury for weeks now, limiting his ability to contribute in the run and pass game. But, when healthy, I’m convinced that he will be a dynamic offensive weapon.
Brandon Scherff has been out for a while, and so has Logan Thomas. We also just recently added Center Chase Roullier to IR. Those are crucial missing pieces to the offense.
Plus, the kicking game has been a disaster. We released Dustin Hopkins and brought in Chris Blewitt, but it hasn’t made much difference — the kicking issues and inconsistencies have remained. So we just cut bait with Blewitt and signed Joey Slye.
Our free agent signings have not worked out as well as we hoped. William Jackson III hasn’t been the shutdown corner we thought we were getting. Bobby McCain has not been as impactful as I expected him to be. Curtis Samuel has been hurt through most of this season and hasn’t seen much playtime.
On top of all that, we have the front office controversies. Plus, the pending congressional investigation regarding the toxic workplace culture created by Snyder and his lackeys.
And here we are, finding ourselves at 2-6 and taking on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in our first game back. Of course, nobody gives us a chance, but you never know; this game could be the one game where the combination of a solid game plan and desperation meet up to pull off the upset.
COWBOYS 16 — BRONCOS 30
The Broncos put a beating on the overrated Cowboys; Denver ran the ball effectively with their running backs Javonte Wiliams and Melvin Gordon III, for a combined 38 carries and 191 rushing yards. Denver is a dangerous team, and at 5-4 could make things interesting in the AFC WEST. Next week, Denver hosts Philadelphia. Advantage, Denver Broncos.
I’ve been prophecizing the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys for a few weeks now, and they finally got exposed. Their defense is not elite, and their offense struggles to run the ball with a declining Zeke. Next week, Dallas hosts a dangerous Atlanta team. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.
EAGLES 24 — LA CHARGERS 27
Justin Herbert had a bounce-back game here, throwing for over 350 yards with 2 TDs and zero picks. The Chargers are 5-3 and still on top of the AFC WEST, but they face a tough stretch in the schedule. Next up, LA hosts Minnesota for what should be a close game. Advantage, LA Chargers
Jalen Hurts seems to be getting more comfortable from week to week. Upcoming opponents will need to start scheming ways to neutralize Jalen’s scramble ability. Next up, Philadelphia visits Denver. Advantage, Denver Broncos.
NY GIANTS 23 — RAIDERS 16
Two late field goals in the 4th quarter made the difference in this game. The Giants have a solid defense, and they kept putting the offense in good spots throughout the game. At the end, NY managed to edge out the Raiders, stopping them from a comeback late in the 4th quarter. Next week, New York visits Tampa Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Derek Carr threw 2 picks and struggled to get past a solid NY Giants defense. The Raiders need to start featuring Josh Jacobs better. 13 carries will not be enough to give Vegas a chance to win close games. Next week the Raiders hosts Kansas City for what should be a massive divisional game. Advantage, LA Raiders.
CHIEFS 13 — PACKERS 7
Nothing seems to be working for Kansas City, and even though they look awful on both defense and offense, they still manage to barely edge out this Green Bay team with no Aaron Rodgers. Next up, Kansas city visits the Raiders for a chance to climb up a spot in the AFC WEST. Advantage, Las Vegas raiders.
The Aaron Rodgers Covid fiasco continues to be the biggest story dominating sports media. Rodgers should be suspended, period. On top of that, Jordan Love was ineffective, making his first start in the NFL. However, Green Bay’s defense is pretty good, and they will keep them in close games. Still, things will not get easier for Green Bay without Rodgers. Next week, Green Bay hosts a rested Seattle team. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks.
CARDINALS 31 — 49ERS 17
I have been singing Colt McCoy’s praises for years now. For some background, I always preferred McCoy over Kirk Cousins when they were both in Washington. I think Arizona will be in good shape not to rush Kyler Murray back. Next week, Arizona hosts 4-5 Carolina. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.
Jimmy G was effective for most of the game until he threw a pick late in the game and pretty much sealed any chances for a comeback. San Francisco needs to get Elijah Mitchell more involved; 8 carries for 36 yards is unacceptable. Also, San Francisco’s defense is not playing up to expectations. Next week, San Francisco hosts a wounded LA Rams team, looking to bounce back. Advantage, LA Rams.
JAGUARS 9 — BILLS 6
Jacksonville shocked the NFL world. The Jaguars’ defense stepped up and held Buffalo to field goals while making Josh Allen uncomfortable through most of the game. Next up, Jacksonville visits a surging Indianapolis team looking for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts
Josh Allen had his worst game of the season, but no reason to panic, rough games like this are bound to occur on any given Sunday in the NFL. Next up, Buffalo has an easy divisional game against the NY Jets. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.
FALCONS 27 — SAINTS 25
Atlanta is alive in the NFC SOUTH at 4-4 and can potentially make a run for a wild card spot, a long shot, but within the realm of possibility. Next week, Atlanta visits the overrated Cowboys. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints self-destructed here with drops and penalties. Trevor Siemian was actually pretty good, and going forward; the critical factor will be for Siemian to get more comfortable with his receivers. Next week, New Orleans visits 7-2 Tennessee. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.
BROWNS 41 — BENGALS 16
Well, Cleveland just saved their season and looked much better offensively without drama queen OBJ. Nick Chubb was on fire rushing for 137 yards and 2 TDs. Next up, Cleveland visits 5-4 New England. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.
I was surprised at how poorly Cincinnati played against a division rival. This loss is a significant setback for Cincinnati — and now they find themselves in last place in the AFC NORTH. Next up, Cincinnati has a much-needed bye week.
RAVENS 34 — VIKINGS 31
What a terrific back and forth game this was. Minnesota could contain Lamar Jackson from getting loose and scrambling for chances of yards. Even Le’veon Bell got some solid action in this game. Next week, Baltimore visits a disappointing but still dangerous Miami team. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens
Minnesota has now lost two close games back to back. They have bigger issues than QB play by Kirk Cousins, and the future of Mike Zimmer as head coach will depend on how they finish this season. Next week, Minnesota visits LA. Advantage, LA Chargers.
TITANS 28- LA RAMS 16
No Derrick Henry, no problem for Tennessee. It was rushing by committee here, and even recently signed Adrian Peterson rushed for a score. So I think Tennessee will be just fine without Derrick Henry. Next up, the Titans host New Orleans. Advantage, Tennessee Titans.
Matt Stafford throwing costly picks was the main story here; however, their lack of effective running game was also an issue. The Rams have way too much firepower on offense to be this pathetic. Next, up, LA visits a 3-5 San Francisco team trying to save their season. Advantage, LA Rams.
DOLPHINS 17 — TEXANS 9
Finally, Miami won a game that they were supposed to win. Nobody expected Miami to be 2-7 this late in the season. Unfortunately, Miami’s victory will be short-lived. Next week they host an early week 10 game against Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.
The Texans are a disaster, and although they have some good moments on defense, they are still a mess of a team. Next week, Houston has their bye week.
PATRIOTS 24 — PANTHERS 6
New England looked formidable and reminded Sam Darnold that New England still owns him even though he is no longer with the NY Jets. Next week, 5-4, New England hosts another 5-4 Cleveland team. Advantage, Cleveland Browns.
No question that Sam Darnold looked awful in this game, but benching him will not solve all of Carolina’s issues. Next week, Carolina will have another rough outing visiting Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals.
COLTS 45 — NY JETS 30
This was a fun game to watch for me on Thursday night. Carson Wentz had an excellent game, throwing for 272 yards with 3 TDs and zero picks. Jonathan Taylor ran all over New York with 19 carries for 172 yards. Next up, Indianapolis hosts Jacksonville, fresh from a shocking win. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.
Josh Johnson had some good moments here, but the Jets are a rebuilding team, and not much should be expected from them this season. Next up, the Jets hosts a wounded Buffalo team. Advantage, Buffalo Bills.
STEELERS 29 — BEARS 27
This game came down to the last few seconds with a field goal — Chicago and their rookie QB unexpectedly tested Pittsburgh. But in the end, Big Ben led this offense effectively and got it done. Next week, Pittsburgh hosts winless Detroit. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chicago Bears got robbed by some really awful referee calls. Nevertheless, I was impressed with Justin Fields QB play; He showed that he could take this team to the next level and dominate the NFC NORTH for years to come — of course, if they build around him properly. Next week, Chicago has their bye week.