The Washington Football Team opened the preseason with a 22-13 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night.
As with most preseason games, the final score isn’t truly indicative of how Washington played — at least Washington’s starters.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked sharp in his debut and would have led the team to a score, but kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a field goal. Backup Taylor Heinicke was also solid and led the WFT to its first touchdown just before halftime.
Washington’s first-team defense looked dominant on its first drive when defensive end Chase Young apparently strip-sacked New England quarterback Cam Newton. The play was later ruled an incomplete pass.
Judge for yourself.
Chase Young makes it look EASY pic.twitter.com/vdhhfi0H4k
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 12, 2021
Here are five takeaways from Washington’s first preseason game.
Fitzpatrick didn’t play long, but he was effective. He made a couple of big third-down conversions. Two of his completions, to Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, showed the potential of this offense with him under center.
Fitzpatrick is clearly comfortable with McLaurin, Thomas and Adam Humphries.
Going back to that Thomas catch, loved the way he cleared the hand of the defender with a quick swipe to keep himself clean. Obviously, the body control and ball tracking is fantastic. Great catch pic.twitter.com/iH1n7j9x55
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) August 13, 2021
Thomas gets open, and he’s learned the subtleties of how to gain separation down the field. One of the things Thomas wanted to improve on from last season was making more of an impact down the field. He did that in one play on Thursday.
Thomas is in line for a terrific 2021 season.
Taylor Heinicke was solid in his preseason debut on Thursday. He made several plays using his feet to set up plays down the field. He did miss one big play to Dyami Brown that could have been a long touchdown.
The quarterback job belongs to Fitzpatrick — for now. But Heinicke can play.
It didn’t take long for Young to make his presence felt. He blew past the New England left tackle to take Newton down. Washington fans were buzzing on social media.
It wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings if Young sat the rest of the preseason. Good luck convincing Young to sit, though. He is ready.
Montez Sweat missed the game with an illness, per head coach Ron Rivera.
Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed two field goals on Thursday. This has been the theme for Hopkins. He can look like one of the NFL’s best kickers for stretches and then miss relatively easy field goal attempts in games.
Sure, neither were chip shots, but you have to make field goals from 40 yards out.
Washington has a chance to have a good team in 2021. It can’t be held back by a struggling kicker. It’s time for Rivera to at least push Hopkins for the remainder of the preseason.