On Monday, the Washington Football Team got some bad news when they learned that starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would have to go on injured reserve after an MRI revealed a right hip subluxation.
Fitzpatrick will have to go on IR for at least three weeks, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Fitzpatrick is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
The 38-year-old injured his hip after being hit by Chargers LB Uchenna Nwosu on a pass play in the second quarter in the team’s 20-16 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday.
Taylor Heinicke, who replaced Fitzpatrick on Sunday, will get the start against the Giants on Thursday night. The fourth-year quarterback was 11/15 for 122 yards and one touchdown against the Chargers, and Washington head coach Ron Rivera was pleased by what he saw from Heinicke.
“Well, obviously, we were pleased,” Rivera said about Heinicke. “We moved the ball well; we made some things happen. We moved to ball well early, too. We just didn’t put it in the end zone, but with Taylor, we got one in the end zone. I thought the throw that he made to [TE] Logan [Thomas] was a heck of a throw.”
Kyle Allen will be the backup to Heinicke.
This injury is a tough break for Fitzpatrick, but at the same time, it could open the door for Heinicke to prove that maybe he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback for Washington going forward.
This could also open the door for Washington to think about free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, who is available after being recently released by the Patriots. Rivera and Newton have history together as the two spent time with each other in Carolina. However, Newton is not vaccinated for Covid-19, which could make things tricky.
Newton had his best years with Rivera in Carolina, including being the league MVP in 2015 and leading to the Super Bowl that same season. Who knows if the 32-year-old Newton gets a shot in Washington, but if it happened, it sure would be interesting to see.
Much is expected out of Los Angeles Chargers second-year quarterback Justin Herbert in 2021. Last season, as a rookie, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, threw for 4336 yards and 31 touchdowns. Herbert became the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 4000 yards and set a rookie record for most touchdown passes in a season.
The 6-6 Herbert was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2020 and clearly looks like a player who could be an upper-echelon quarterback for years to come.
On Sunday, the Chargers travel to D.C. to face the Washington Football Team. Washington head coach Ron Rivera liked what he saw out Herbert last season and believes Herbert could be a special player.
“Well, when we looked at him, we really liked who he is as a football player,” Rivera said on Monday. “He has got a nice, strong arm, and he’s built for the position. He’s very athletic for a big guy. He’s got a tremendous arm. He sees the field very well. He’s a good decision-maker. I mean, you put the tape on from last year, you got an opportunity to watch him make all the throws, literally make all the throws.
“It’s just one of those things that you draft who you think you need, and that’s what we did. But, I really think that this is a good football player. He’s a young guy who’s going to continue to develop and grow, and he’ll be a formidable player for a long time in this league.”
In the 2020 NFL Draft, Washington had a shot at Herbert but ultimately drafted DE Chase Young with the second overall pick. At the time, Washington had Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, and the hope was that he could be the team’s franchise quarterback. That never came to fruition, and Haskins was released near the end of last season.
Passing on Herbert could come back to haunt Washington and the other teams that passed on him.
Fortunately for the Chargers, he will probably only get better in Year 2
The Washington Football Team handled the last preseason game like the last preseason game. Head coach Ron Rivera sat all of the starters on Saturday at FedExField, and ultimately, Washington would fall to the Ravens 37-3.
“Not to get anybody hurt,” Rivera said about why he rested his starters. “It was something we decided on a few days ago. We didn’t want to get anybody hurt. We had a big camp, it’s been successful, and a lot of guys worked. A lot of people we feel really comfortable and confident in who they are for us. We just felt exposing is not the thing to do, so we didn’t expose them.”
Conversely, Baltimore played many of its starters, but not for long, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, who saw his first preseason action on Saturday and played one series.
According to Jackson, he was happy to be out there against Washington.
“Yeah, just to get my feet wet for the regular season,” Jackson said. “I’ve got to feel that contact, that real contact because you know guys in practice aren’t hitting me or anything like that. It was great to get my feet wet.”
For Baltimore, the concern is running back J.K Dobbins, who left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. According to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, Dobbins will undergo testing on Sunday.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the expectation is that Dobbins had suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Jackson hopes everything will be okay with Dobbins, but he has confidence in the other backs on the team.
“Hopefully, we don’t miss him. He’s a tremendous back,” Jackson said. “We have Gus [Edwards], and we’ve got Ty [Ty’son Williams], but hopefully, he’s good.”
Baltimore got a big-time performance from third-string quarterback Tyler Huntley, who threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns against Washington.
With the win against Washington, Baltimore won an NFL record 20th straight preseason game. The last time Baltimore lost a preseason game was in 2015.
“I just think it’s really cool for the guys,” Harbaugh said about winning 20 straight preseason games. “I’ll tell you this; there’s a lot of guys watching on TV with their kids, telling their kids about that accomplishment and the fact that they were a part of that. That’s the most meaningful thing. I think there are other aspects of it, but to me, that’s the thing that means the most.”
It’s time to prepare for the regular season. Washington hosts the Chargers in Week 1, while the Ravens go on the road to play the Raiders on Monday Night Football.
As the Washington Football prepares for their preseason finale on Saturday against the Ravens, head coach Ron Rivera wants his player to prepare like it’s the regular season. After Saturday, Washington will have to wait 15 days for their season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
On Monday, Rivera explained what he wanted to see out his team as they prepare for the final preseason game.
“Well, just the biggest thing more than anything else is really about us going through the process of what that’s going to be like during the regular season,” he said. “Everything from the way we’re going to meet to the way we walk through, the way we practice, and then the post-practice lifts and meetings. It’s just to get a sense and feel for that. Be very direct with the game planning, getting an understanding and feel for how we’re going to game plan. Then also for the guys to develop and understand how important it is for them to take advantage of their own time. Some of the things that we do in some of our meetings, there’s a period where there’s a group of guys that aren’t involved in special teams that have some downtime.
“What I’ve told them is I want them to take care of three things, either getting extra treatment, getting their strength conditioning done, or spending some time watching film. I mean, it’s an opportunity to take about 40 minutes to get a little bit ahead of some things and an opportunity to watch your opponent and kind of study what we’re going to do. It’s about time management now, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
In the past, when teams played four preseason games, the third preseason game was like a dress rehearsal, but with only three preseason games, each team will handle things differently. At this point, Rivera is unsure how long his starters will play against Baltimore.
“When we get together as coaches in the next couple of days, we’ll talk about how much we want to see everybody play, and we’ll go from there,” Rivera said.
The last preseason game is also a chance for players on the bubble to impress, which Rivera discussed on Monday.
“We’ll have some guys that would play an awful lot, and we’re going to look for them to be put in situations and do they capitalize on those things,” he said. “How they prepare this week also, we’ll get an opportunity to really watch to see if they get it. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys that are going to take advantage of these opportunities, make plays, make things happen, and handle the situations and opportunities.”
Who had Tae Crowder scoring the Giants’ first game-winning touchdown of the Joe Judge era?
Almost certainly, nobody. Crowder, after all, is a rookie linebacker who was the 255th and last player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not exactly a combination of credentials that would prompt thoughts of Crowder’s name appearing in the same sentence as “end zone.”
But on Sunday afternoon in MetLife Stadium, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant was anything but. An alert Crowder scooped up a fumble by Washington quarterback Kyle Allen and sprinted 43 yards to the…end zone. Crowder, who started his second consecutive game, scored the go-ahead points in what became a 20-19 victory against the Washington Football Team that gave the Giants their first victory after five straight losses.
“I wanted to dive on it bad,” Crowder said. “One of my goals was to help the team and I know if I could scoop it up and get in the end zone, it would help the team, and it was something we needed at the moment.”
Many players at the end of the seventh round soon recede into oblivion. But Crowder took pride in his status and with his title.
“I took it as motivation,” he said. “I love the name, I just wanted to get here, get to work with my team. One of my goals for this year was to help the team in any way I can.”
And that he did. The score was tied 13-13 and Washington faced a third-and-nine at the Giants’ 45 when Kyler Fackrell sacked Allen for an eight-yard loss and forced the ball out of his hands and to the ground. When Crowder first bent down to pick it up, he kicked it forward a few yards before securing it and starting his sprint to the goal line.
“I have to say big ups to my teammate Kyler Fackrell for making a big play, a strip-sack on the quarterback,” Crowder said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
“I wish Tae would’ve bent his knees a little better and taken it cleaner off, but I’m glad the second time through he got it and finished it on out,” Judge said. “But it was a nice job of the guys putting pressure on it. We’ve been preaching for a while to keep the pressure on the quarterback and turnovers will come. They did today and Tae did a good job of finishing the play. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t kick that thing initially and give him an opportunity to get on that ball.”
Crowder is the first Giants rookie to score a defensive touchdown since cornerback Bruce Johnson’s 34-yard interception return at Dallas on Sept. 20, 2009. He scored the Giants’ first go-ahead defensive touchdown in the last four minutes of a fourth quarter or overtime since Oct. 31, 1999, when Michael Strahan scored on a 44-yard interception return in overtime to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.
The Giants still had several anxious moments after Crowder’s touchdown. Washington took possession at its own 25 and converted two third downs on a 10-play drive that concluded with Allen’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims with 36 seconds remaining. Coach Ron Rivera could have taken the safe route by kicking the extra point and sending the game into overtime.
But Rivera was going for broke – and the victory.
“I told them in the locker room, I said, ‘Guys, I play to win,’” said Rivera, who is aptly known as Riverboat Ron. “That’s a part of my philosophy. The only way to learn to win is to play to win, and that’s what I want those guys to understand, that’s the mentality. … The intent is to learn how to win football games.”
Good intentions, but poor execution. Dexter Lawrence and Blake Martinez pressured Allen into throwing an incomplete pass that landed in the end zone, nowhere near any of his teammates.
“I was actually expecting them to go for two,” Judge said. “They’ve been aggressive in a lot of situations this year, Ron’s always been aggressive as a head coach. You’re on the road, a lot of times that’s the decision you’re going to make right there. We knew they were going to treat those last couple series like they were their last series and they were going to try to get this thing all the way down and clock.
“I thought (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) made a great call on the two-point conversion. That’s actually a call we put in this week. I thought the guys matched it and played it very well. We got some pressure from the line. I saw the DB’s did a good job getting the initial coverage. They were trying to work (wide receiver Terry) McLaurin on kind of a hesitation and work out to the flat right there. I think it was (defensive back) Logan (Ryan) on him at that point right there and did a good job covering him. But it was a call Pat put in this week. The guys did a really good job working that on Friday, really improving on some things that we put on tape in practice that were mistakes, cleaned it up through Saturday, and, hey, practice execution becomes game reality.”
And that enabled the players to finally celebrate with Judge, who was doused in a postgame gathering.
“I gave him the game ball,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “He was quickly dumped with Gatorade. A lot of people played a part in that celebration. It was a good, it was a fun moment there after the game.”
“It was definitely special to see him get his first win,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “It was also my first win as a Giant, so that felt special as well. Of course, we might have poured a little water on a little bit just to celebrate. We were just happy to get the win. There was a lot of celebration going on in there. It was a happy moment.”
Judge was typically reluctant to make the story about himself.
“The locker room obviously had a lot of energy afterwards,” Judge said. “The guys were very happy. There’s been a lot of pressure that they’ve put on themselves and that we put on them. They’ve been fighting hard for six weeks and working through training camp for us. You hit this point right here and you just want to get the results. And I’m happy the fans were able to have it and I’m happy the players were able to enjoy it today.”
Bradberry’s interception of an Allen pass and 19-yard return set up Jones’ 23-yard first-quarter scoring pass to Darius Slayton, the Giants’ only offensive touchdown. It was Jones’ and the team’s first touchdown pass since Slayton caught two on opening night against Pittsburgh. Graham Gano kicked field goals of 33 and 20 yards.
Jones completed 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards, all career lows for a game in which he started. But he also ran for a career-high 74 yards, including a 49-yarder that was the longest run by a Giants quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Washington scored on Allen passes of five yards to Logan Thomas and the 22-yarder to Sims, plus Dustin Hopkins field goals of 35 and 28 yards. The 70-yard drive that ended with Thomas’ touchdown was kept alive by Austin Johnson’s running into the kicker penalty on a Washington punt. That advanced the ball five yards and on fourth-and-four, Rivera characteristically chose to go for it. Washington picked up the first down on Dontrelle Inman’s 15-yard reception and scored four plays later.
But the game was decided by a two-point conversion try on which the Giants’ defense executed perfectly and flummoxed Washington’s offense.
“We finally got our win,” said defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who had one of the Giants’ three sacks. “We’ve been working hard and finally got to see some of the fruits of our labor. It was obviously an ugly win, though. We obviously wanted to do a lot better. There’s still some football out there that we have to clean up.”
This week, they can do that with smiles on their faces.