Ron Rivera’s goal for Washington football team: “Play two halves of football” – Washington Blog

LANDOVER, Md. – A microcosm of the Washington football team’s season could be seen in both halves of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a sign of where they are – and why all pre-season optimism has faded.

In the first two quarters, the Washington defense did what it was supposed to do this season: give the offense a chance, even against one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes. The defense limited Kansas City to 10 points in the first half, despite allowing 274 yards. But he played games, with three takeaways.

This led to a 13-10 halftime lead. He also preceded a 31-13 loss.

The reason Washington is 2-4 heading into Sunday’s road game against 5-1 Green Bay (1 p.m. ET, Fox) is because it struggles to play good back-to-back halves, without talk about the matches.

Washington has a tougher schedule this season, which has contributed to its slow start. He’s already lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Chiefs – three teams considered to be among the best in the AFC and strong Super Bowl contenders. Two games after facing the Packers 5-1, Washington will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1).

Washington also lost to the New Orleans Saints, in part due to two odd plays: a Hail Mary touchdown to close the first half and a 72-yard pass when safety Landon Collins was caught by a quick snap and was out of position. In their 20-16 loss to the Chargers, a fumble in the fourth quarter on their 5-yard line scored the winning points.

“We lost to four good teams, but we could have beaten a few as well,” coach Ron Rivera said on Sunday. “That’s the hard thing to swallow if you want to be honest with it. You are what your record says you are. The only way to improve is to practice, work on it, then get out there and play better. . And that’s about what we have left. “

It’s not just about trying to compete for a playoff spot; it’s about establishing an identity on which to build moving forward – beyond 2021.

“We have to deal with adversity,” Rivera said. “We have to play two halves of football.”

Last season, before Washington started winning, Rivera said he just wanted them to play one good game, then another. The victories would follow. In the end, they did as Washington has won five of its last seven.

“This is the time when we have to be men,” Washington defensive end Chase Young said. “I have to look at myself in the mirror. It’s time for the test.”

Winning isn’t easy in the NFL, and for a team that’s always trying to win, that’s good. But even in Washington’s two wins – over the New York Giants (1-5) and Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – there was cause for concern about defense. These were not outings to rely on for a unit expected to be in or near the top 10, even with a schedule featuring most of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. Instead: Washington ranks last in runs allowed (31.0 per game) and 31st in yards allowed (423.0). The unit underperformed in relation to training.

The Giants, who are averaging 19 points and 360.7 yards per game, hit a season high in points (29) and their second-highest total of yards (391) against Washington. Atlanta, averaging 21 points and 345.6 yards, scored a record 30 yards and also posted their second total for yards (374) against Washington.

Five of Washington’s six opponents have scored more than their season average. Only the Chargers didn’t, but they gained 424 yards, their second-highest total of the season.

Against Kansas City, the defense received little offensive help and Mahomes completed 19 of 24 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

“I think we said to ourselves, in the sense that that’s what we’re capable of,” said Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb of keeping the Chiefs 10 points in the first half on Sunday. “This is the standard we are going to hold to.”

Offensively, Washington is understaffed. He played Sunday with saves starting in multiple places: quarterback, right guard, right tackle, tight end and receiver. Not all played badly, but the losses add up.

In three of his five starts, quarterback Taylor Heinicke finished with a total QBR of 34 or worse. Over the past two weeks combined, it’s 26.5. In Washington’s two wins, Heinicke guided late-game practices with perfectly placed passes and big plays aided by his legs.

But, unfortunately, given the injuries and the way the defense plays, they need him to be something he’s not: a franchise quarterback.

Their starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, remains on the injured list with a hip injury suffered in the season opener. He is due for an MRI this week to update his recovery. His estimated recovery time was six to eight weeks.

“There is no panic. It’s a long season. There is still a lot of football left,” said Heinicke. “There are a lot of pissed off guys, rightly so. But again, hopefully we can just use that fuel for this week and get ready for Green Bay. It will be another tough game. Not discouraged. We got angry and we want to come back next week and move it forward. “

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