Three takeaways from the WFT’s wild Week 4 victory over the Falcons

Three takeaways from the WFT’s wild Week 4 victory over the Falcons

By Gibson Hirt

Psychiatrists around the DMV will be busy this week; many Washington fans experienced mood swings while watching the wild Week 4 contest against the Falcons. Despite letting the lowly Falcons hang around for the entirety of the game, Washington escaped Atlanta with a thrilling 34–30 victory led by Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin. Heinicke looked poised and much improved from a shaky Week 3 performance, and McLaurin showed once again why he is one of the premier receivers in the league. However, questions about the defense and the kicking game — which have nearly cost Washington multiple games this season — still remain. 

Here are three takeaways from Washington’s thrilling victory over the Falcons:

The offense, not the defense, is the strength of this team

Coming into the season, it was Washington’s defense that was supposed to be what would push them towards a division title. Through four games, however, it has actually been the offense that’s been carrying the load. Other than Week 3 against Buffalo, Taylor Heinicke has looked the part of a solid starting quarterback, and it’s clear that he’s become more comfortable running the offense as the weeks have progressed. He led Washington on back-to-back touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter which ultimately sealed the victory. A prayer by Heinicke that was somehow caught by McLaurin pulled Washington back within two, and on the ensuing drive, a wild catch and run by JD McKissic gave them the lead for good. On the season, the offense is averaging an impressive 25.3 PPG, good for 11th best in the league. Terry McLaurin continued wreaking havoc on opposing secondaries, finishing Sunday with six catches, 123 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging nearly 90 yards per game and has already found the endzone three times. Antonio Gibson has also been solid thus far, adding 250 yards on the ground for an average of 4.3 YPC as well as two total touchdowns.

Tackling needs to be worked on — badly

After the defense’s subpar performance in Week 1, fans didn’t overreact too much, but after four dreadful performances, it’s become apparent that this defense is nothing close to what fans expected. They allowed 30 points to a Falcons team that had only scored more than 20 once in their previous three games. More specifically, missed tackles have plagued Washington in every game so far, but it was especially horrendous against the Falcons. Mike Davis caught a dump-off pass from Matt Ryan that should have been a loss of five yards, but missed tackles allowed him to scoot into the endzone. Blown tackles allowed the Falcons to keep drives going and pick up long third downs, another issue Washington has struggled with mightily throughout this season.

Kicking woes continued 

Washington fans have long been awaiting the day when they have a kicker whom they can count on every time they step on the field. Unfortunately, that day isn’t in the near future — at least until management makes the correct decision and moves on from Dustin Hopkins. He has nearly cost Washington two games this season on missed field goals and extra points. In Week 2, he shanked the game-winning field goal wide right. Luckily for him, he was bailed out by the Giants — who have had a thing for losing close games this season — and even when he converted the second attempt, the ball barely snuck through the uprights. In Week 4, he missed two consecutive extra points that made the fourth quarter much more stressful than it needed to be. Having a consistent kicker is incredibly crucial, and Dustin Hopkins is not that guy.

Washington got the needed victory, but not in the way fans and players were hoping. The Falcons should have been a walkthrough for Washington, but instead, they needed all four quarters to come away with victory number two. Taking on the Saints’ high-profile defense in Week 5 will be a tough task for Washington, but if the defense can finally make plays and the offense continues to produce, it’s very possible for them to put together their first winning streak of 2021.