JUNKIES: Is the WFT heading in the right direction?

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The Washington Football Team has left us with plenty of questions to ponder in the offseason after finishing the 2021 season outside the playoffs at 7-10.

While it seems premature to have a conversation about job security, Washington head coach Ron Rivera should at best be entering 2022 on shaky ground, with much to prove and stripped of all benefit of the doubt. Three years without a winning season would be hard to stomach from someone tasked foremost with changing the culture in Washington.

Two years can be dismissed as a small sample. Three is your culture.

This begs the question: Is Washington even heading in the right direction? The Sports Junkies grappled with this question on Monday morning. You can listen in on the conversation beginning around the 33-minute mark below.

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Bish: 14-19. It's hard to say that they're in the right direction, because you just don't know who the quarterback is.

EB: I feel like they took a little bit of a step backwards this year, mostly because the defense took a big step back.

Bish: Yeah. I think you're right.

EB: I think the offense, you could kind of expect it to struggle. But the defense taking a step back, wow. It's not the defense we thought, and so now where are you?

Cakes: Yeah, it seems like they're stuck in neutral. And, if Ron is going to make it to year five — he's 40 percent in at this point — I feel like next year, he's got to go 9-8 or 10-7. He's got to get a winning season under his belt at some point.

Bish: I would agree.

Cakes: And then, if he makes it to year five, '23 and '24 both have to be playoff years. I just feel like that has to be the trajectory for him if you feel like things are working out here in D.C.

Despite falling short of expectations in 2021, Washington did have some brilliant strokes this season, including a four-game losing streak (that snapped a four-game losing streak) coming out of its Week 9 bye, sparked by an unexpected victory over Tampa Bay, followed by key victories over Carolina, Seattle and Las Vegas. That season highlight momentarily had Washington in the playoff conversation, until it dropped its next four games, all against divisional opponents.

EB: You could almost make the argument that with everything they had to overcome, winning seven games was borderline miraculous. Because I remember we were sitting in here, people were thinking they were gonna win three or four [games total].

Bish: Well, the four-game win streak did surprise me. I mean obviously beating Tampa, no one thought that was gonna happen. But I didn't think they were gonna beat the Raiders. So, winning those four games... I thought they would struggle a little bit against Carolina. So that got 'em in the mix, to 6-6, but then to win four and then lose four.

EB: Well, they were just completely outclassed by Dallas. Even though the score didn't necessarily indicate that in the first game, they were. And then they clearly were in the second game. I just would have liked to have seen them at full strength against — relatively speaking, for that time of year — against Philly.

Bish: It's just hard to be at full strength when you've got to deal with injuries and the Covid stuff.

EB: Well they just got hammered, you know, just right at the worst time. It is what it is. It's hard to argue that they didn't regress, though. It's hard to argue.

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