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Washington Football News: Mental errors may cost WFT its season

Nov 8, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera before the game between the Washington Football Team and the New York Giants at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Football news: Sitting at 2-7, it feels difficult to be hopeful about the Washington Football Team for the rest of the season. However, context is an important element in the NFL and it especially plays a key for this club. Quite frankly, if not for Ron Rivera’s team often being its own worst enemy, the Washington Football Team could be 4-5 and atop the NFC East.

Washington lost the season series to the New York Giants, with both games coming down to the final minutes. A botched two-point conversion cost Washington the first matchup and Alex Smith’s costly three=interception showing in Week 9 stalled any potential game-winning drives. 

We saw more costly errors in Week 10. Washington’s mental gaffes returned in Week 10, a pivotal game, and it falls on rising star Chase Young. It came moments after Smith, making his first start since that devastating injury, led the team on a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to tie the game with little time remaining.

With 16 seconds left, Washington and the Detroit Lions seemed destined for overtime. Instead, everything changed on one penalty. Young was called for roughing the passer, which helped set the Lions up for the game-winning field goal as time expired. As Detroit celebrated, Washington was left in agony.

There were many other factors that led to these losses as well. Washington’s run defense has been abysmal, its offensive line is struggling and the passing game consists of mostly check-downs. 

Washington’s season has been defined by mental errors. Mental errors have clouded the season and have led the team to blow a clear opportunity to win the NFC East.

Washington’s mental errors cost the growth of Dwayne Haskins

Ron Rivera benched Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen. Washington’s coach saw an opening in the NFC East and wanted to go for it in his first season at the helm. Quite frankly, the decision didn’t pay off.

Washington has one win since benching Haskins. While it’s still in the running for a playoff spot, thanks to a historically bad division, even the best-case scenario doesn’t justify the cost. Rivera went for the playoffs, in a year that should have been about building for the future and wasted a chance to give Haskins a full season to prove himself.

There have been reports of attitude problems with Haskins, which certainly could play a factor in the decision. Rivera wants to set a level of expectation in this locker room, which starts with team culture, but it might come at a notable cost.

First-half mistakes led to second-half catchup 

Washington doesn’t save its mistakes for the fourth quarter; they happen throughout the game. In the first half of Week 9, another key NFC East clash, a fumble and an interception in the red zone led to an early deficit. 

Additionally, this vaunted defense seemed unable to stop the running game. Washington allowed a struggling Daniel Jones to move the ball at will against them. As of late, opponents are running all over Washington’s front seven and there are no signs things will improve soon.

Washington got itself in early deficits two weeks in a row and crawled back into the game. However, here is where mental errors turn wins into losses. The team climbed back only to lose the game by their own mistakes. 

Mental errors put Ron Rivera in a predicament

What should be the game plan for the rest of the season? Should Washington take a win-now approach to its games, with the best-case scenario resulting in a subpar 7-9 record and the NFC East division title? On the other hand, should Rivera focus on evaluating young talent and ignore the standings for the remainder of the season? 

Washington is stuck in a position where no answer seems like the right one. Rivera took a risk and put Washington in a predicament. The talent on the team is abundant, but mental errors are beating the team down. This season could have been a pleasant surprise, but once again, Washington is grappling with trying to win and preparing for the future.