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Week 11: Studs, Duds, and Hat Tips

Loss Vegas

Canadian Hog

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How quickly things can change in the NFL. On Halloween night, after a defeat to the Denver Broncos, we were all in the process of writing the obituary for the Washington Football Team's 2021 season. Just 3 weeks later, with the team sitting at 4-6, sneaking into the playoffs becomes a real possibility if the Burgundy and Gold can maintain their solid and drastically improved play in all three phases of the game. An inspiring 27-21 victory in Ron Rivera's return to Carolina and a 2 game winning streak means that for the second week in a row, we have a lot of studs and very few duds. Let's get right to it and take a look!

Studs:

1. Taylor Heinicke - the talk all week was about Cam Newton's return to Charlotte, but the fact is that Taylor Heinicke stole the show and was the better Quarterback on Sunday. The numbers were solid for the second week in a row for #4. He went 16 of 22, threw for 206 yards and 3 TDs, and kept the offense moving all afternoon. In the big moments, Heinicke delivered again as well for the second week in a row - something he showed the ability to do earlier in the year fairly well. On our opening TD to level the game at 7, Heinicke delivered a huge 39 yard completion to Terry McLaurin on a 3rd and 9. On our second score of the day, Heinicke delivered on another big 3rd and 9 play and hit Adam Humphries for 12 yards to extend the drive. On our go ahead TD to make it 21-14, Heinicke hit DeAndre Carter on 3rd and 4 with a nice completion to the endzone. On the game winning drive that set up the Slye field goal to put us ahead 24-21, Heinicke made a brilliant play scrambling around and converting a huge 4th and 3 pass to John Bates. He later scrambled nicely for a 14 yard gain on the same drive on 2nd and 12. The big throws were there from Taylor all day, he put the ball where it needed to be more often than not, and you just got the feeling that he wasn't going to let this one slip through his fingers today. While he held the ball a bit too long in certain spots today, you just get the feeling that this guy is going to find a way to stick around for the long-term in some capacity in Washington...and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Terry McLaurin - 5 catches, 103 yards and a really tough TD grab was the stat line for the #17. It was his best statistical performance in several weeks. He delivered in what he knew was a hugely important game for many people within our organization who had previous ties to Carolina. That's what leaders and superstars do - they play for the teammates and will their team to victory in the most important moments. We are so fortunate to have this man on our roster. Deliver this guy a blank cheque and lock him up, please. We finally have a superstar on this roster.

3. Kam Curl - in many ways, the defensive performance we saw on Sunday was very much reminiscent of how we saw this team playing in November and December a year ago. The same could be said for Kam Curl's individual performance on Sunday. He was all over the field, steady in coverage, and really solid with his tackling. With 3:05 remaining, he made a game clinching play, stopping Christian McCaffrey short of a 1st down on 4th and 3 for the Panthers. It allowed the WFT to then put an additional 3 points on the board, and cushion their lead.

4. Joey Slye - Another perfect performance in the kicking game for Slye on Sunday, as he went 2 for 2 on field goal attempts and 3 for 3 on extra points. Sure, his two late field goals were only from 36 and 29 yards respectively, but the fact of the matter is that they were both pressure cooker situations with the game being so tight, and Slye delivered and left no doubt.

5. Ron Rivera - I thought Rivera delivered a really solid coaching performance on Sunday. His best call of the day was giving Antonio Gibson a wake up call and sitting his butt on the bench after a costly fumble early in the game. Accountability is a beautiful thing. Rivera is also known for taking risks and seemed to push the right buttons at the right times on Sunday more often than not. He elected to go for it on 4th and 5 on the Carolina 43. That conversion ultimately led to the WFT being able to tie the game right before halftime and it gave them a big lift going into the locker room. Going for it again on 4th and 3 on the Carolina 43 in a tie game with just over 7 minutes to go also worked out and set up the game winning field goal. While the challenge attempt by Rivera early in the game was questionable, overall, he played to win, was aggressive, and showed confidence and belief in his players. It paid off in the end and I am happy that Coach Rivera was able to get a win in what was undoubtedly a huge game for him on a personal level.

6. Scott Turner - 40 to 22 was the final stat line for rushing attempts vs. pass attempts at Carolina. That is right about where it needs to be if we want to give ourselves a chance and see the best version of Taylor Heinicke, as well as our defense, on a weekly basis. We outgained the Panthers 369 to 297, something the WFT has been able to do consistently vs. opponents this season. Additionally, we won the ever important time of possession battle, keeping the ball in our hands for 35 minutes. A good four quarter performance by our offensive coordinator, and his second well-called game in a row, is a good sign moving forward as we head towards the stretch run of the season.

Duds:

For all the Seinfeld fans out there, this is truly a festivus miracle! I can't think of any dud players who deserve to make this list today. Sure, we had a few dud plays here and there, but those kinds of things happen to every team every week.

Hat Tips:

1. Jon Allen - No Montez Sweat, no Chase Young, no problem. Jon Allen showed excellent leadership today, being the glue that kept the defensive front together and in sync for today's contest at Carolina. He delivered a solid performance on the interior and is unquestionably our team's best leader.

2. DeAndre Carter - #1 found the end zone for the second consecutive week, bringing his TD total to 4 on the season. While the stats won't "wow" you, he finds very important ways to contribute offensively and does the little things well. He has been a breath of fresh air to our ball club and is the type of role player you need to win.

3. Antonio Gibson - after the first half benching following his costly fumble, Gibson responded really well. He amassed 95 yards on 19 carries and looked like a player who played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after he returned to the game. He is going to have to work on the mental side of his game, but overall, he played a big role in helping us to control the clock in the second half.

4. JD McKissic - McKissic looked really good on several of his runs after spelling Gibson in the first half. He accumulated 46 yards on 7 carries on the day and did what he normally does on Sundays - add a little juice and electricity to the offense.

5. Offensive Line - I have said this quite often this year, but these guys are repeatedly proving to be our team's best unit. The Panthers sacked Heinicke 3 times Sunday, but it could be argued that almost all of those were on #4 for holding onto the ball too long. We again were challenged with injuries along the offensive front, with Schweitzer having to come in to replace Larsen, and Lucas having to spell Cosmi. Playing with a battered unit, John Matsko's unit opened up really nice run lanes on several occasions on Sunday and the team totalled 190 rushing yards.

6. Daron Payne/James Smith Williams - the late 4th down combined sack of Cam Newton was the exclamation point on what was a really special day for our beloved football team.

That's all we have for this week. Do you agree with the list? Disagree? Who did we miss?

Keeping throwing stones...and Happy Thanksgiving to my Burgundy and Gold family south of the border!
 

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MikefromOH

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Great post. I really look forward to them every week.

Payne could possibly be on both lists with his stupid penalty. He needs to control his emotions and just let his solid play do the talking.
 

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5. Offensive Line - I have said this quite often this year, but these guys are repeatedly proving to be our team's best unit. The Panthers sacked Heinicke 3 times Sunday, but it could be argued that almost all of those were on #4 for holding onto the ball too long. We again were challenged with injuries along the offensive front, with Schweitzer having to come in to replace Larsen, and Lucas having to spell Cosmi. Playing with a battered unit, John Matsko's unit opened up really nice run lanes on several occasions on Sunday and the team totalled 190 rushing yards.
YES. This was a big standout to me. First off, the starting center, Roullier, was out. Larsen went down, for a few plays, Schweitzer went down too. And Ishmael had to come in. And as you pointed out, Lucas came in at RT. Panthers have a good defense, and a good front too. The O-line has some quality depth and the Matsko is def a good coach.
 

Canadian Hog

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For all the crap we have given Troy Apke over the years, he made a huge play recovering that fumble on Special Teams. It could have been a game changer if the Panthers landed on that ball.
 

SirClintonPortis

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I'd give a lot of love to John Bates. He's got a good pair of mitts. Better than Seals-Jones in terms of reliably catching the ball. That 4th and 3 needed everything to go right, including the receiver not dropping the ball.
 

SkinsNumberOne

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I'd give a lot of love to John Bates. He's got a good pair of mitts. Better than Seals-Jones in terms of reliably catching the ball. That 4th and 3 needed everything to go right, including the receiver not dropping the ball.
I think Seals-Jones has caught more, not sure what the percentage of catches/drops is for both, but Bates is extremely green and unproven. For that reason, I would give him a lot of love, but not because I think he is reliable at all; that aspect is unproven as of now, and if I had the choice between the two, I am not sure who I would go with. Since Bates is so green, him getting stripped last week wasn't a big deal to me. Likewise, him making a couple of good catches is awesome, but since he's green, it's all early data at this point (to me at least). I was super happy for him though (and for all of us, of course)!
 

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I like our TE position.

I think RSJ has shown some good stuff since he's been pressed into action. His name comes up frequently with clutch catches here and there. Bates looks green, but could develop into something really good. Logan will be back soon.
And we still haven't seen if Reyes can turn that athleticism into something more akin to an NFL TE, but then we all knew he was a project. I think he has the right group around him to learn, and he seems dedicated to it, so fingers crossed.

We could have this position set for a while.
 

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I like our TE position.

I think RSJ has shown some good stuff since he's been pressed into action. His name comes up frequently with clutch catches here and there. Bates looks green, but could develop into something really good. Logan will be back soon.
And we still haven't seen if Reyes can turn that athleticism into something more akin to an NFL TE, but then we all knew he was a project. I think he has the right group around him to learn, and he seems dedicated to it, so fingers crossed.

We could have this position set for a while.

Call me crazy but if it were up to me, Reyes may be available for a day 3 pick... depending on how he's developing
 

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The best thing that could happen to Reyes is for the team to stop featuring him on PR stuff constantly. He’s at best a PS guy/project right now and needs to be focused on actually learning how to play a position. I think they’ve done him a big disservice so far heaping all the attention on him.
 

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The best thing that could happen to Reyes is for the team to stop featuring him on PR stuff constantly. He’s at best a PS guy/project right now and needs to be focused on actually learning how to play a position. I think they’ve done him a big disservice so far heaping all the attention on him.

part of that was media hype when we heard rumors that 'multiple' teams were offering him contracts and he 'chose' to come to Washington... which is why we signed him to the active roster and not just to a P.S. deal.

I love the story, but the TE room appears to be stable, and good teams turn assets they're not using into assets they can. At this point going into next season, the TE room with Logan Thomas, Ricky Seals-Jones, and John Bates APPEARS to be a very stable and solid one, and one that can be counted on for multiple seasons. Letting Reyes sit on the bench watching on Sunday is not as valuable as getting a pick for him and turning that pick into a contributor.

I have not seen him play so I don't know his development level. If he's balling out and the coaches can see him as a contributor as early as next season, then you hang on and continue to develop him because his ceiling is so high, but if we're just sitting on him 'because' with no confidence he can get it done, and it's clear he wont supplant one of those other 3 over the next 3 years, then why just occupy the roster spot?
 

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