4 takeaways from Washington Football Team’s loss to Carolina Panthers

It was set up nicely for the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

The Ravens did Washington a favor by beating the Giants in Baltimore, meaning that all Washington had to do was beat the Panthers and the divisional crown would be secured. It didn’t go so well, as Carolina escaped FedEx Field with a 20-13 win, setting up a win and in situation next week in Philadelphia.

Oh, and coach Ron Rivera benched quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Here are four takeaways from the loss.

Does Haskins have a future in Washington?

What a week for the 2019 first-round pick. Rivera disciplined Haskins this week, after pictures surfaced of him violating COVID-19 protocols last Sunday, but he stuck with him as the starter because he felt Haskins gave the team the best chance to win.

It was clear very early that wasn’t the case. Haskins’ struggles started during the first possession, and he never got into a rhythm. He fumbled on the team’s second possession and also threw two interceptions on the day before being benched. Haskins finished the day 14-for-28 for 154 yards and two interceptions.

Rivera benched him in the fourth quarter and probably should have done it sooner.

On his first drive, Taylor Heinicke completed half the passes that Haskins completed for the three quarters he played. He gave Washington a chance with a touchdown pass to J.D.McKissic, but it was too late.

It will be really hard to imagine Haskins getting another shot at seeing the field under Rivera.

Rivera declined to name a starter for next week, but he better hope Alex Smith can play in Philadelphia.

Antonio Gibson looks sharp in return

Running back Antonio Gibson returned to the lineup for the first time since leaving the win over the Steelers in Week 13 with turf toe. He showed some of that explosiveness that was on display before the injury when he scored eight touchdowns in five games.

Gibson finished with 61 yards on 10 carries, and it could have been more, but Washington was behind early and had to throw the football often in the second half.

McKissic led the team in receiving with eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.

The good news is that Washington could have more offensive weapons returning next week. Terry McLaurin missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, but he could be back, along with Smith. Washington needs a full complement of offensive weapons at its disposal.

Chase Young deserves to be a captain

Rivera took the captaincy away from Haskins this week and also fined him for violating COVID-19 protocol. The team then voted rookie Chase Young a captain this week, and that was the right move.

All Young has done since he was drafted is make plays. He has tried to take over games by himself, including Sunday, when he forced two fumbles, recovered one of them, and also recorded a sack. He is all over the field and plays the game with a ton of emotion, something that the defense has definitely fed off of this year.

Win and secure a playoff spot

Despite the outcome of Sunday’s contest, Washington still controls its own destiny next week in Philadelphia. The Cowboys beat the Eagles, therefore eliminating Philadelphia from contention, so if Washington beats the Eagles, the team will be NFC East Champions and host a playoff game.

If Washington loses, the season is over, and the winner of the Giants/Cowboys game would be the NFC East Champion.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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