Three takeaways from the WFT’s Week 18 victory over the Giants

By Gibson Hirt

It feels like it was just yesterday that we turned on Thursday Night Football in Week 1 to watch the Buccaneers and the Cowboys kick off the 2022 NFL season. Fast forward 18 weeks, and the regular season has come to an end. As the regular season concludes, so does the 2021-22 campaign for the Washington Football Team, who ended the season with an easy 22–7 victory over the hapless Giants. In their first matchup, Washington narrowly squeaked out a victory on a last-second field goal. Sunday’s game wasn’t close to competitive, in fact, it wasn’t even close to competitive. Right from the opening kickoff, it was clear that Washington was the better team. They dominated in every facet of the game and ended the season with a victory.

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

Antonio Gibson was phenomenal

After battling lingering injuries and COVID-19 all year long, Antonio Gibson broke out for his best game of the season. He rushed for 146 yards on Sunday — the highest mark of his career — and even found the endzone on an 18-yard dash late in the fourth quarter. He finished the season with 1037 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and added 42 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Early on in the year, Washington’s run game struggled; Gibson was dealing with a new shin injury and wasn’t receiving as many carries because the team was always playing from behind. In the last few weeks, Gibson has been back to full strength and has thrived in his expanded role, especially without JD McKissic. Although the season might not have gone the way the team was hoping, Gibson certainly proved that he is Washington’s starting halfback for the foreseeable future.

Joe Judge shouldn’t be an NFL head coach

In the words of Stephen A. Smith, “This man is a bonafide scrub!” Normally, we keep the takeaways about Washington and not the opposing team unless it’s something that absolutely must be talked about. Despite the Giants coming out and saying they’re sticking with Joe Judge as head coach next season,  it’s only fair that Judge’s lack of competence is addressed. Heading into the week, Judge took a shot at the Washington franchise, calling them a “clown show organization”. Well, Washington went out and dismantled his team in a game that was never close. In two years as the Giants head coach, Judge has gone an abysmal 10–23 and has been unable to turn around a struggling New York franchise. The aura around this team has been generally negative over the past two seasons, and week after week, Judge tries to play off any concerns regarding the team even when it’s glaringly obvious the Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL. It’s plays like Kenny Golladay being unable to haul in a beautifully thrown ball by Jake Fromm where it seemed like Golladay didn’t even make an effort to try to catch the ball. It’s calling a QB sneak on second and third down inside of their own ten-yard line out of fear that the Giants would give up a safety. He essentially communicated to his team that he had no confidence in them to not make a mistake. If you don’t have confidence in your own team, you certainly shouldn’t be an NFL head coach, and Joe Judge proved that on Sunday.

Taylor Heinicke had his moments, but shouldn’t be the future

After his thrilling performance in the 2020 Wild Card game against the Bucs, fans were excited to see Taylor Heinicke compete for the starting job in training camp. Ryan Fitzpatrick won the starting job, but was injured during Week 1 and missed the remainder of the season, making Heinicke the starting quarterback. In 16 starts, Heinicke threw for 3,400 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. While those numbers aren’t horrible, they certainly don’t jump off the page. Heinicke seems to do everything well, but doesn’t excel in any one aspect. He also seems to have one of the weakest arms of any starting quarterback. It seems like every week he misses a few throws high or behind his receivers that nearly every other quarterback would’ve made. In what was pretty much his first full season in the NFL, Heinicke led the team to a 7–10 record. Heinicke has done all he can to get this organization back on track to being a contender, and fans shouldn’t be too harsh on him. While it’ll be important for Washington to be in the thick of the quarterback search this offseason, especially with the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Heinicke will at the very least secure Washington’s backup job for next season.

In a year when Washington had aspirations to be the first team to win the NFC East consecutively since the Eagles did it in 2004, finishing in third place and out of the playoffs is certainly a disappointing result. However, before you get too disappointed, it’s important to take into consideration what the team has gone through this year. Not only did they battle through an absurd amount of injuries and COVID-19 cases, but off-the-field tragedies as well. Sometimes, things are bigger than football; Washington will be back, healthier and more ready than ever to make a quest at the division title in September.