Three keys for a WFT victory over the Broncos on Sunday

By Gibson Hirt

After a ringer of a stretch that included the Saints, Chiefs and Packers, the Washington Football Team will get a much easier test against this Sunday the struggling Denver Broncos. While they have to travel to an atmosphere that’s always tough to play in, the defense for Washington has been getting better each week, and they have a chance to shine against a struggling Broncos offense. To pick up a much-needed victory, Washington needs to have a solid performance on both sides of the ball, something they’ve yet to accomplish this season.

Here are three keys for Washington to get back into the win column against the Broncos:

Win the turnover battle

Washington has struggled with holding onto the football this entire season, and it reared its ugly head against the Packers last Sunday. After seven weeks, they sit with the tenth worst turnover margin per game in the league, having given the ball away .4 times more per game than their opponents. In total, they have fumbled the ball 10 times, and Taylor Heinicke has added another seven interceptions to the turnover list. Washington needs Heinicke to make smart decisions with the football on Sunday; he’s shown he can do it, but not consistently. The bigger issue has been the fumbles, however, with four last week against Green Bay being the worst of the worst. Holding onto the ball is going to be a significant key for Washington against a young and talented Denver defense. 

Pressure Teddy Bridgewater

Speaking of turnovers, Washington will be going up against Teddy Bridgewater, who is tied for fifth most interceptions thrown through seven weeks. Bridgewater is a much less imposing threat than the quarterbacks Washington has faced in previous weeks: Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Bridgewater has thrown all of his picks in the past three games, including a dismal three-interception performance against the Raiders two weeks ago. Washington’s defense has stepped up the past two weeks — especially the d-line. They should be able to get plenty of pressure on Bridgewater, forcing him to make tough decisions that hopefully result in turnovers. Even without the turnovers, Bridgewater is nowhere near as agile and mobile as the previous four quarterbacks Washington has faced, meaning Washington should come out of the game with several sacks. The defense has finally shown signs of life over the past few weeks. Facing a struggling Denver offense, the defense has the ability to — and needs to — put on a show. 

Design runs for Heinicke

Against Green Bay, Heinicke showed his scrambling abilities on a 38–yard dash up the middle. While it’s great that he was able to make something out of nothing, the coaching staff should have seen that and called plays specifically designed for Heinicke to run. Heinicke is a quick, athletic quarterback who has shown throughout his time with Washington that he can create a play for himself with his legs. Read options and other designed runs present Heinicke with the best opportunity to succeed, especially considering his throwing struggles over the past few weeks. Designing runs for him will require him to throw fewer passes, which minimizes the chance for mistakes and turnovers. Heinicke doesn’t need Lamar Jackson-esque rushing volume, but a few runs per quarter will exponentially benefit Washington and their chances of winning.

Coming off three straight poor showings, Washington needs a “get right” game, and Denver presents that opportunity. If Washington can limit turnovers, generate pressure in the backfield and allow Heinicke to use his running abilities, they have a great shot at picking up a big-time victory heading into their bye week.