SNIDER: WFT's best may not be enough


The Washington Football Team could have beaten the Green Bay Packers. The defensive line played better. Indeed, the whole defense gave a fair effort after unending weeks of collapse. The offense moved the ball well, but couldn't get in the end zone.

The 24-10 loss wasn't the same humiliating defeat usually felt in the 2-5 start. And that's the scariest part. What if Washington played its best game and still lost by two touchdowns?

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"I think the guys just continue to fight," coach Ron Rivera said. "They felt it. I really thought they had a good week of preparation. I loved the way they practiced. I loved the way they came to work every day. It was a point of emphasis. It was one of the things I stressed on Sunday after the game. Again, we'll continue to do that because that's the only way we're going to get better. We're just going to have to continue to work and work harder and that will help us play harder."

Harder, not smarter?

The team can't play any harder. No one questions the effort against Green Bay. But Washington didn't outsmart the Packers. The offense has a young passer of undecided potential. Taylor Heinicke shrugged off the game manager nonsense in the past two losses and was himself. He was OK at times, but not in the red zone when throwing an interception and sliding before the goal line to blow a touchdown. Two dumb mistakes.

But, Heinicke is the only real path forward because opening starter Ryan Fitzpatrick is reportedly healing slowly and may not be back until perhaps the season's final month. And by then, who cares given his one-year deal? It seems $10 million for 20 minutes of work will be a helluva retirement sendoff for the passer.

The offense is playing with a lot of duct tape because of injuries. The receiver corps is once again Terry McLaurin and Co. while Curtis Samuel and Cam Sims are hurt. The running game is hampered by Antonio Gibson's injured shin. Tight end Logan Thomas' worth has shown invaluable in the end zone during his absence. Heinicke is playing with a half deck so no wonder it's a losing hand each week.

But this team was always supposed to be about the defense, which was the NFL's worst underachievers through six games. Finally, the unit showed a pulse. The line regularly pressured Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, only the latter showed his future Hall of Fame resume with several unbelievable plays. Still, the front four saw Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat making plays.

And that will always help the secondary. The move of Landon Collins from safety to linebacker looked promising while allowing safety Kamren Curl more snaps. Danny Johnson replaced pricey free agent bust William Jackson and made plays. There weren't wide-open spaces for touchdowns that plagued the defense regularly this season.

A victory might have turned the season around given there are winnable games coming, maybe even against Denver on Sunday, before Washington's Nov. 7 bye. Washington might have been 4-4 entering the bye with five dates against NFC East rivals. There would have been a chance, albeit slight, to take the division.

Instead, Washington is 2-5 and showed its best isn't good enough. And, that's the scary future.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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