The Washington Football Team went into Week 2 with confidence after it came back from a 17-0 deficit against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles to open the season. Their defensive line looked unstoppable throughout the game and the secondary had two interceptions.
Washington’s confidence was buried into the ground versus the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. The team fell down early, 20-0, and seemed to be unable to get anything going on either side of the ball. Washington ended up losing by the score 30-15.
Washington fans are panicking, but the worrying needs to be toned down. This is a very young football team under a brand new coaching regime. There will be growing pains, but this does not mean their Week 2 loss isn’t cause for alarm.
Ron Rivera and Co. will travel to Cleveland to face the Browns for their Week 3 matchup. Even though it is early in the season, this is going to be Washington’s biggest game of 2020.
Here are the reasons why Washington needs to win versus the Browns in Week 3.
Dwayne Haskins and the offense can gain confidence versus Browns’ defense
It is no secret Haskins has struggled in his first two starts this season. He completed 19-of-33 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. Haskins also fumbled after a key interception that got the offense the ball just inside the red zone.
In Week 1, Haskins finished with a similar stat line, completing 17-of-31 passes for only 178 yards and just one touchdown. Haskins has been stagnant in both of his performances thus far.
However, he has a chance to change that against a questionable Cleveland defense. This past Thursday night saw the Browns yield 30 points to the Cincinnati Bengals. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow went off for 316 yards and three touchdowns in the narrow Cincinnati loss.
Haskins doesn’t need to throw the ball 61 times like Burrow did in order to carry his offense. He needs to make smart decisions and not be afraid to throw the ball. His offensive line has not been the best, so it is not all his fault. However, Haskins need to be able to play confident and provide a spark for this lackluster offense.
Shutting down Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will be a test for an inspiring Washington defense
Washington’s defensive line looked virtually unstoppable against the Eagles in Week 1. In Washington’s game against the Cardinals, it looked very beatable. The unit generated four sacks and let quarterback Kyler Murray run all over them.
The line was not the only problem for the Jack Del Rio-led defense. Murray seemed to be able to get whatever he wanted in the passing game and picked apart Washington’s secondary at every turn. Free safety Troy Apke struggled mightily Week 2 and yielded some big plays
Washington will go into Week 3 playing a run-heavy team in the Browns. Going up against the Bengals last week, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for over 200 yards on the ground. Washington has a far superior defensive line than the Bengals and might be able to force Baker Mayfield to pass the ball.
If that happens, it will allow for them to throw the Browns off their style and enable a furious pass rush to do what it does best. Mayfield is not as mobile as Murray, so Chase Young and others should be able to find success similar to Week 1.
The momentum of shutting down one of the best running back duos in the NFL will give this young defense confidence for the rest of the season.
After Week 4, Washington’s schedule gets easier
After their Week 3 matchup versus the Browns, Washington will face the Baltimore Ravens led by 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. If Washington were to lose against the Browns, the chances it starts 1-3 is pretty favorable.
Washington needs to come out of Cleveland with a victory so it can head into Week 4 with a winning record. The matchup versus Baltimore will be extremely difficult, so a loss seems to be on the horizon.
If Washington can go 2-2 with games coming up against the Rams, Giants (twice) and Cowboys (twice), Ron Rivera could find his team with a surprising winning record. The Giants just lost Saquon Barkley to a season-ending injury. The Cowboys are inconsistent and always struggle versus Washington.
It is crucial for Washington to gain the momentum needed to get on a hot streak, especially for a young team. If Washington is able to beat the Browns, the playoff push seems much more achievable.