Three takeaways from the Washington Football Team’s 20–16 loss to the Chargers


Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury was one of the several lowlights for the WFT during Sunday’s 20–16 loss to the Chargers. (Photo credit: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

By Gibson Hirt

The Washington Football Team headed into Week 1 with division title aspirations, but a disappointing 20–16 loss to the Chargers on Sunday Washington left fans with a handful of questions, including, “Where in the world was the pass rush?” While the defeat certainly isn’t what any WFT supporter wanted, Washington can hopefully learn  from this loss and use it to right the ship.

Every time it seemed like Washington got going, the Chargers stole the momentum right back. Simply put, Washington struggled to find their groove for most of the game. While Taylor Heinicke was serviceable in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s absence (11/15, 122 yards and a TD), his presence wasn’t enough to overcome Justin Herbert and the Chargers.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s defeat:

The defense wasn’t impactful 

Washington’s defense looked shaky throughout the entire game. Justin Herbert was able to move the ball down field at will, totalling 337 passing yards and connecting with eight different receivers in the process. The defense struggled mightily to get off the field on third down; LA was 14–19 on third down, including four conversions on the game-clinching drive. It seemed as if there was a receiver open in the middle of the field every play, and Herbert seemed to put the ball in the perfect spot each time. The front seven managed to generate some pressure on Herbert, but nowhere near the amount they would’ve liked. In fairness, the Chargers’ offensive line played great, and Herbert constantly released the ball within a second or two of receiving it from the center. However, the Washington pass rush, the supposed strength of this team, just did not show up on Sunday.

The rookies struggled 

Washington’s rookies, who had big roles in Sunday’s contest, also struggled. Tackle Sam Cosmi had to block all-pro edge rusher Joey Bosa for most of the game, and Bosa easily won the battle. His constant pressure helped initiate a three-and-out in the first quarter, and Bosa also recovered a strip sack fumble later in the game. Cosmi won’t have to face a player of Bosa’s caliber every week, but this clearly wasn’t the start Cosmi wanted. Dyami Brown’s only catch on four targets went for negative yardage, and Jamin Davis recorded only two tackles. Benjamin St-Juste, Washington’s third round pick out of Minnesota, had his lowlights as well. He was the main culprit in allowing Mike Williams to rack up eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, including the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter. All afternoon, Herbert targeted St-Juste knowing he could take advantage of the rookie.

Self-inflicted errors killed Washington 

The mistakes were cropping up all game, but the second half was especially terrible. Just one play after cornerback William Jackson III picked off Justin Herbert, Antonio Gibson lost a fumble inside of Washington’s ten yard line; three plays later, the Chargers took the lead and kept it for good. The fumble clouded what was otherwise a solid afternoon for Gibson, who tallied over 100 yards from scrimmage. A false start on veteran guard Brandon Scherff earlier in the quarter may have cost Washington a chance to add to its lead. Third and five became third and ten, eventually leading to a missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins. Penalties constantly put Washington in tough situations; the Chargers started with solid field position on several occasions. Reducing penalties will be a major factor in Washington’s success for the remainder of the season.

While it’s only one game, Washington hopefully learned a lot. They get less than four days to prepare for their next game on Thursday night, but luckily for Washington, they’ll face an already struggling New York Giants squad at home. Ron Rivera and Co. will look to flip the script and pick up their first win of the season.