Washington Football Team: What needs to be done following loss

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 12: Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys sacks Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Football Team during the third quarter at FedExField on December 12, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 12: Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys sacks Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Football Team during the third quarter at FedExField on December 12, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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What does the Washington Football Team need to do next following their Week 14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys?

The Washington Football Team entered Week 14 riding a four-game winning streak. That streak helped get them back to a 6-6 record and holding onto a wildcard spot. Things were certainly trending in the right direction. Even better, their final five games were against NFC East rivals. That included two games against the division-leading Dallas Cowboys.

However, on Sunday they started that stretch with a painful loss to Dallas. For a hefty majority of the game, Washington looked like they didn’t even belong in the same league as the Cowboys. Dallas held a 24-0 lead at halftime, Washington having under 40 yards of offense in that time.

Things picked up from there, though. Washington’s offense started to move at least a little bit, and the defense made some plays. A late fourth-quarter touchdown made the score 27-14. That was followed by a Cole Holcomb pick-six moments later, and suddenly it was 27-20. A quick three-and-out gave Washington the ball back with just over three minutes to go in the game.

Quarterback Kyle Allen (Taylor Heinicke was injured) was stripped on a sack though, and the Cowboys sealed the win.

This is a tough one to judge. Washington looked absolutely pitiful in the first half. And even in the second half, the offense wasn’t good. There aren’t many positives to build off of outside of the defense continuing to play solid football. So where do they go from here?

This is no doubt a devastating loss. It puts the division lead for Dallas at three games with just four weeks left. So it’s hard to imagine Washington winning the division now. However, at 6-7, Washington is just outside of the playoffs looking in.

They still have one more game against Dallas. That will be tough, but the second half was proof that Washington could beat them. They also have two games against the 6-7 Philadelphia Eagles and one against the 4-9 New York Giants. Those are all winnable games.

So it’s important to remember that, The Washington Football Team is far from out of the playoff race.

Now, that being said, adjustments need to be made if they want to recover. Heinicke is dealing with some injuries but it’s already been said he should be back for next week. Terry McLaurin (who suffered a concussion in Week 14) might miss some time though – that’s a major blow to the offense that’s already without Logan Thomas.

The focus for the offense needs to be holding on to the ball. Slow down on the turnovers (four in Week 14). But also create long drives. The longest drive (in number of plays) Washington had in the first half last week was six plays, and it ended in a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

They didn’t get over six plays on a drive until late in the fourth quarter with their long touchdown drive that ended with just five minutes left in the game. That one saw them go 73 yards in 13 plays over four minutes and 15 seconds.

Their one and only drive after that was three plays for two yards and ended in a fumble. Do you see the issue? Washington’s defense was constantly put in terrible positions. They were getting very little rest, usually off the field for maybe five plays if they were lucky. And were usually tasked with Dallas getting a short field.

You can make the injury excuse. Washington’s without some stars on defense. Thomas is out, J.D. McKissic was out, and McLaurin got injured in the game. The offensive line is beaten up, and Heinicke missed some time in the game as well.

However, every team is dealing with injuries. So it’s hard to complain about something like that. It doesn’t matter who is out there, they are all NFL players. And the offensive line needs to block better. Dallas was getting through extremely quickly and hitting the quarterback on what felt like every play. This doesn’t help things either and it is what led to a number of the turnovers.

The defense managed to do a great job, but fatigue can set in. And that’s when the real trouble can start. If the defense is tired and starts to play sloppy/get burnt, now the offense has to pick up the slack. And we’ve seen this year that it’s not something you want to rely on.

The Washington Football Team has four games left. Three are very winnable, and the one against the Cowboys isn’t a definite loss. They just need to clean it up on offense. In Week 14 it didn’t look like the same Washington Football Team that had won their previous four games. Now they have a doable schedule in front of them the rest of the way. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.

Do what you’ve been doing. Stop the run (especially against Philadelphia). Clean up the blocking. Hold onto the ball. It’s that simple (well that’s not simple, but it’s a simple concept).