Hailey: For WFT's starters, game vs. Bengals was tale of two units originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The goal for the Washington Football Team's starters on Friday night was to build off of what was an encouraging preseason debut last week in New England.
But only one starting unit really accomplished that goal in Washington's 17-13 win over the Bengals.
The Burgundy and Gold defense completely dominated the Bengals' offense in the exhibition matchup. Now, they were expected to — Joe Burrow, after all, logged as many snaps at FedEx Field as the laptop that this story is being written on did — but it was a stringent effort from coordinator Jack Del Rio's bunch nonetheless.
Montez Sweat completely gobbled up a Cincy running back on a toss play, which is something Sweat has done throughout training camp up to this point. Benjamin St-Juste, Jimmy Moreland and Torry McTyer held things down at corner without William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller. Landon Collins showed as much burst as he has since joining the club a couple of years ago.
Again, nothing they did should be celebrated too vigorously. Brandon Allen, not Burrow, was "leading" the "charge" on the other side of the ball, and Cincinnati first-round wideout Ja'Marr Chase dropped a trio of passes in the first quarter alone.
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That said, the Washington defense took the field knowing they were the superior unit, showed they were the superior unit — the main contributors and key backups limited the Bengals to 55 net yards through two quarters — and then took a seat on the sidelines.
Unfortunately, Scott Turner, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense won't be feeling as upbeat as their locker room counterparts.
Fitzpatrick wasn't bad; far from it, really. The veteran finished the evening 7-of-13 for 96 yards in one quarter of action. He missed a couple of key attempts, though — including a slight overthrow of Adam Humphries on a would-be touchdown — and also had a misunderstanding with Humphries that nearly resulted in an interception.
At best, it was a middling performance from the quarterback.
Elsewhere, Antonio Gibson was active as both a runner and a receiver, Logan Thomas hauled in a 28-yard reception and Dyami Brown made a sweet, twisting 29-yard catch of his own. There were glimpses from the first-stringers for sure.
However, overall, the first-string offense was responsible for a punt, a turnover on downs, a Cam Sims fumble and a field goal. Two giveaways, one three-pointer and no six-pointers doesn't really generate much excitement with the preseason finale coming up next Saturday.
Getting too, too worked up about what occurred in an Aug. 20th tilt, when the regular-season opener is still more than three weeks away, isn't worth anyone's time. But if you want to be a bit perturbed about the lack of serious progress by the offense, go right ahead.
In 2020, Washington relied on timely scoring and a consistent defense to barely make it into the playoffs. In 2021, the previously weaker half is expected to pull more of its own weight. That hope simply hasn't converted into reality yet, and there's only one more outing left until things truly matter.