By Mark F. Gray
Special to the AFRO
The meaningful portion of the Washington Football team’s final season came to a fitting conclusion with a Taylor Heinicke interception in the Philadelphia Eagles end zone as they were in position to steal a game they didn’t deserve to win. Washington blew a 10 point lead twice and fell to the Eagles 20-16 on Jan. 2 at FedEx Field in Landover, which mathematically ended their hopes for the NFL playoffs.
This result secured a second consecutive losing season under head coach Ron Rivera, but there won’t be any trips to the playoffs to mask their deficiencies. Instead of the harsh realities of expectations that weren’t met for this year’s team, they now are facing the uncertainty of a future that doesn’t seem as promising as it once did.
Sunday’s loss marks the second time this season that Washington has lost four straight games and it also marks being swept by the best two teams in the worst division of the NFL. However, unlike Dallas and Philadelphia Washington has personnel deficiencies that can’t be masked and fall at the feet of head coach Ron Rivera.
“Riverboat Ron” likes to gamble, but has yet to cash in on any of his biggest bets. If the second guaranteed losing season in the Rivera era proves anything it’s that the coach should have beef with the person in charge of building the roster. After two seasons the coaching staff remains stuck in neutral also.
”Hopefully we’re developing character,” said Rivera. ”The important thing is how we finish. We have one more game to go. We go from there.”
Washington’s offseason moves to take the next step forward never worked out this year. The prized free agent signing of wide receiver Curtis Samuel yielded no dividends as he was on their unofficially able to perform list signifying the recovery from a knee injury where a roster spot was saved for a holiday gift that should’ve been exchanged for a store credit.
Their first round pick Jamin Davis wasn’t as good at middle linebacker as Cole Holcombe who was a holdover from last year. Davis was a massive disappointment given that New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is taking his team to the playoffs when Washington could have selected their field general of the future instead of relying on a staff sergeant under center.
This Heinicke experiment cost a frustrated fan base an entire season. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could see that this wonderful story wasn’t going to propel Washington into a championship contender. Remember the two debacles against the Dallas Cowboys as evidence.
The frustration of what may have been for this season led to embarrassing escapades on the sidelines between defensive teammates. After Chase Young was lost for the season, Jonathan Allen and Deron Payne had to watch their alma mater advance to the national championship game for the second straight year while they continue to represent an on field product that has those former Alabama “brothers” fighting on the sidelines out of frustration.
Rivera’s regime is officially on blast right now- from talent evaluation, to free agent acquisition, to game planning, and in game adjustments, the coaching staff underachieved as well.
This year’s bottom line heading into the worst game scheduled on the final week of the first 17 game NFL season is a common refrain the fans have been accustomed to under Dan Snyder’s leadership:
“The Washington Football Team is now on the clock!”
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