Despite posting a record of 9-12 in their last 21 games, the Washington Football Team is building a winning culture. Contrary to popular belief, building a winning culture does not happen overnight. Head Coach Ron Rivera is laying the groundwork to revitalize a Washington franchise that has an all-time win percentage below 50 percent.
For context, in Rivera’s last job as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, the team did not have a winning record until his third season with the team. Two seasons later the Panthers went to the Super Bowl.
Making mistakes and learning from them is a part of the culture-building process. Washington made several mistakes during their Week 5 loss to the New Orleans Saints. If the team learns from these mistakes, they can continue to build a winning culture.
Building a Winning Culture for the Washington Football Team
Playing Complementary Football
To build a winning culture, the offense, defense, and special teams have to complement each other. In Week 5, Washington did not play four quarters of complementary football. The defense came up with two turnovers against the Saints. The first turnover was a Jameis Winston pass that was intercepted by linebacker Cole Holcomb.
The Washington offense was only able to manage a Dustin Hopkins field goal as a result of Holcomb’s interception. The second turnover was a forced fumble by defensive end Chase Young. This time the offense was able to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Scoring a touchdown off of a turnover is complementary football at its finest. On the other hand, a turnover by the Washington offense put their defense at a disadvantage.
Enter Taylor Heinicke.
Trailing by four points in the fourth quarter and facing a third down and 10 on his own two-yard line, Heinicke threw an interception. This interception put the Washington defense at a disadvantage and gave the Saints excellent field position at the Washington 26 yard line. The Saints would score a touchdown four plays later.
Saints punter Blake Gillikin gave a great example of how special teams can complement the defense. Gillikin put the Saints defense in an excellent position by pinning the Washington offense inside their five-yard line three times.
To build a winning culture miscues have to be eliminated. The Week 5 matchup against the Saints featured several miscues by the Washington defense. A blown coverage in the secondary led to a 72-yard touchdown reception. The most egregious miscue came at the end of the first half. Winston threw a hail mary into the endzone that ended up in the hands of Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway. These defensive miscues plus Heinicke’s fourth-quarter interception resulted in 21 points for the Saints.
Let’s look at an alternate outcome if the miscues were minimized or eliminated.
The defense holds the Saints to a field goal instead of giving up a 72-yard touchdown reception. The hail mary is batted down. With everything else remaining the same including Saints kicker, Cody Parkey missing an extra point, the score at halftime would have been 13-9 Washington. This scenario could have led to a much different second half for Washington.
If Washington can focus on playing complementary football and eliminating miscues, they have a chance to restore the confidence of this young football team. The loss to the Saints may have been more devastating for Washington than their 21 point defeat against the Buffalo Bills because this was a game Washington could have won. The entire Washington locker room and coaching staff have to believe that they are building a winning culture and that continued success is on the way.
Embed from Getty Images