What is Washington Football coach Ron Rivera and his staff doing, because the team is too often unprepared and not improving weekly.
The amount of dumb plays in the 33-22 loss to New Orleans on Sunday was staggering. Allowing a back-breaking Hail Mary touchdown at the end of the first half without several nearby players even jumping for the ball shows ill preparedness versus a textbook play. The excuse – safety Landon Collins said the team expected a shorter pass to create a potential field goal. Really?
Coach-centric is how Washington is rolling after getting rid of awful team president Bruce Allen, but the problem is Bill Belichick's not the boss and Rivera has not been as effective as expected. Oh, Rivera largely changed the culture by literally changing almost everyone in the building, Yet, federal drug agents stormed the training room on Friday with team trainer Ryan Vermillion under investigation. Rivera admitted exasperation over why scandals keep plaguing this organization.
Rivera was also perplexed after the Saints loss over why the team isn't playing better. He said they're lacking confidence. What – does Rivera need to hand out participation trophies to bolster their spirits? Landon Collins gets "Best Missed Receiver" while Taylor Heinicke earns "Good Game Besides Two Picks."
The offseason may see staff changes, at least on the defensive side. Whatever coaches are teaching during the week is not working. Sure, players deserve some of the blame, but somehow the schemes are not being executed. Maybe the system is too complicated, maybe the players are ill-suited for it. William Jackson III appears a free agency bust trying to do new things while first-rounder Jamin Davis barely played, despite Washington losing a linebacker for the season the previous week. Meanwhile, Chase Young looks flat-footed with no plan to sidestep offensive linemen.
That the defense is underperforming five weeks into the season and allowed at least 29 points per game is inexcusable. Forget coach speak about watching film and they're close. They're not close in any reasonable way. Every game sees several wide-open opposing receivers too often scoring easy touchdowns. When Saints quarterback Jameis Winston throws four touchdowns with a 108.2 rating, it's time for public shaming.
The defensive line finally gave a near-respectable performance, though Young's first sack of the season was really a coverage sack as Winston was looking for his third option and New Orleans ran straight up the middle for a 42-yard touchdown. Still, it was something despite underwhelming pressure on a mediocre quarterback.
The back seven plays like some rec league team that picked sides before kickoff. There is no chemistry in knowing whether to hand off receivers to a different defender. If Winston can throw four touchdowns, what will Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes do on Sunday? Even State Farm can't protect Washington from this coming disaster.
Offensively, it was a mess. Coordinator Scott Turner never found a rhythm in his play calling. When Ricky Seals-Jones is the leading receiver, there's some serious second-guessing. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke played his worst game this season and his lack of arm strength combined with late throws is making him easy prey. What happened to the short passing attack? The pass/run ratio of 41 to 33, respectively, was decent, but red zone calls were suspicious and overall saw Heinicke needing to do more than capable.
A reboot is needed, only Washington now faces a desperate Kansas City (2-3), Green Bay (4-1) and Denver (3-2) before its bye. The break may come too late. Coaches have to get off the weekly game-planning cycle, self-scout the other side of the ball and ask what's going on. Because, what's going on right now is a season ready to collapse.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.