Three takeaways from the WFT’s 27–17 loss to the Eagles on Tuesday

By Gibson Hirt

You never want to say that you were expecting your team to lose heading into a game, but it was evident even before kickoff that fate did not seem to favor the Washington Football Team on Tuesday night. Throughout the week, Washington was forced to place 21 players on the COVID-19 reserve list, resulting in several backups being pushed into starting roles. Washington’s lack of healthy players was clear all night long, as the Eagles torched Washington on both sides of the ball.

Washington actually started off hot; a wacky Landon Collins interception turned into an Antonio Gibson touchdown, and a Landon Collins fumble recovery turned into a Brian Johnson field goal. After the opening quarter, Washington had a 10–0 lead.

Everything went downhill from there. 

Before you could say “How did I get to this point in my life where I’m yelling at Garrett Gilbert?” Philly gashed an undermanned Washington defense, scoring 20 unanswered points. Jaret Patterson tried to get Washington back in it with his first career touchdown, but unfortunately, his efforts weren’t enough, and Washington fell 27–17 to the Eagles.

Here are three takeaways from Washington’s loss to the Eagles on a bizarre Tuesday night:

Inability to stop the run

We talked about it in this week’s preview: If Washington wanted a chance at beating the Eagles, they needed to find a way to shut down their league-best run game. Washington not only failed at that task, but they literally got run over by the Eagles, as Philly tallied their second highest rushing total of the year with 238 yards on the ground. Miles Sanders led the way with 138 yards on 18 carries, and Jordan Howard added 69 of his own yards on 15 carries. Jalen Hurts attempted just 26 passes compared to the team’s 41 rushes because Washington simply had no answer for the run game. Considering how banged up the defense was, it’s no surprise that the Eagles took advantage of a vulnerability, however, it is still disappointing that the Washington run defense was that poor.

Garrett Gilbert did all he could

Although the game was postponed until Tuesday night, which allowed the chance for some COVID-stricken WFT players to return, Washington was still forced to play without either of their top two quarterbacks. With Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen both failing to clear COVID protocols prior to the game, Garrett Gilbert was forced to lead the Washington offense. Gilbert started one game for the Cowboys last season and was signed just six days ago off of the Patriots practice squad. While he played about as well as he could have given the circumstances, it still wasn’t enough to lift Washington to a victory. Gilbert completed 20/31 passing attempts for 194 and no turnovers, which are solid numbers for someone who barely knew the playbook. He made all of his open throws and, most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. After the first quarter, the offense went completely stagnant, but it’s unfair to blame Gilbert after being thrust into the starting role on such short notice.

The offense is really missing JD McKissic

This section isn’t supposed to knock Antonio Gibson — he’s been phenomenal all year long — it’s supposed to praise JD McKissic. McKissic has now missed the last three games and will also be out the remainder of the regular season after being placed on IR on Tuesday morning. He provided a unique option out of the backfield that paired perfectly with Gibson’s abilities. Before he got hurt, McKissic was averaging almost 4.5 targets a game and was Washington’s second leading receiver in terms of yardage. In the three games he has missed, it’s been clear how much Washington has missed his presence. Anytime Washington needed a safety check down option or a deep route out of the backfield, McKissic was ready to go. Now, Gibson has been forced to handle a much larger workload, which has led to fewer explosive plays from the offense. While there’s nothing the team can do to get McKissic back before he comes off IR, his absence the past few weeks has shown just how valuable he is to this team.

After back-to-back divisional losses, Washington finds themselves in a nearly impossible hole to climb out of if they want to make the playoffs. If they even want a chance to turn around their season they need to turn their focus to next week against the Cowboys on SNF. They should have the majority of their starters back and healthy, making Sunday an absolute must-win to keep their playoff hopes alive.