It’s always nice when there’s a payoff for the buildup. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the team’s roster of “summer sensations,” and even jokingly named the award for the player who best exemplifies the Burgundy & Gold standard of August excellence after a 1980s backup quarterback. And after two weeks, we have our summer sensation.
Undrafted free agent Jaret Patterson, a Laurel, Maryland, native who starred at the University of Buffalo, leads the team in rushing yards (111) as well as receptions (seven). He’s scored one of the team’s two touchdowns this month and has been a part of five of Washington’s 17 third-down conversions. He also had a 37-yard kickoff return in Washington’s 17-13 preseason win over Cincinnati, and any potential special teams contribution can’t hurt when the roster is pared down to 53 players on Aug. 31.
I’m not saying Patterson will be an impact player this fall, or even be active for the majority of the 17-game regular season, but the rookie is giving us quite a bit of sizzle to go with the preseason steak that by nature is sub-prime.
To the numbers:
Quarterback carousel, plus candles: Ryan Fitzpatrick completed seven of 13 passes for 96 yards on his four possessions — they ended with a punt, a turnover on downs just outside the red zone, a Cam Sims fumble and a 40-yard field goal.
Taylor Heinicke completed 11 of 13 passes for 80 yards on four drives that ended with a three-and-out, a punt, and field goal drives of 10 and nine plays.
Kyle Allen made his August debut by leading the team to its only touchdown (after a fumble recovery at the Bengal 23), a punt and a game-ending possession. Let’s wait one more week to print bumper stickers, but in the interim, let’s light candles for franchise great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen on his 87th birthday.
Gaining ground: Jaret Patterson’s 71 yards rushing paced the team, which gained 141 yards on the ground. Antonio Gibson ran seven times for 28 yards and appears to be continuing his smooth transition from wide receiver in college to running back in the NFL (he led Washington with 795 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing last fall). Peyton Barber might be on the bubble due to Patterson’s play, and the fullback notched three carries while catching a pass. Jonathan Williams gained 16 yards and converted on his lone third-down carry.
Pass catch fever: Patterson shined again in the passing game, catching three passes for 25 yards. Antonio Gandy-Golden caught three passes for 38 yards while rookie wideout Dyami Brown (a 29-yard catch) and tight end Logan Thomas (a 28-yard reception) helped stretch the field. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones kept his candidacy alive with two more catches for 20 yards, while Cam Sims made two catches for 19 yards. (He lost his namesake with the release of Steven Sims Jr. — the Kansas product notched 34 and 27 catches in his two years with Washington, and also returned kicks but found himself on the outside of the numbers game in 2021.)
Third and grounding: The offense converted five of 14 money downs with Ryan Fitzpatrick (1-5) and Taylor Heinicke (2-6) delivering middling results, while Kyle Allen moved the chains on two of three attempts (grains of salt for second-half excellence in August). Heinicke completed three of four passes with one conversion, while Fitzpatrick went two of four with no conversions, and Allen’s only third-down pass attempt was incomplete. The top target was Cam Sims (one catch on two targets), while the top performer on third down was Patterson (two carries for two conversions, plus a reception that moved the chains). Antonio Gandy-Golden and Jonathan Williams also made first downs running on third and short. Yardage breakdown: 4-5 on short yardage, 1-4 on medium (four to six yards needed) and 0-5 on long yardage.
Defense does not rest: Washington got off the field on nine of 13 third downs and limited the Bengals to just one field goal in the first half. Linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk led the team with five tackles, while seventh-round pick Will Bradley-King notched the team’s lone sack, which led to a fumble recovered by Daniel Wise that set up Washington’s lone touchdown.
Special situations: Dustin Hopkins made field goals of 31 (twice) and 34 yards, but was not tested at 40+ yards, when Washington went for it on fourth and one from the Cincinnati 23. Tress Way averaged under 40 yards per punt but three of his four kicks dropped inside the Bengals’ 20-yard line. Once again, Jaret Patterson led a category with his 37-yard kickoff return. DeAndre Carter returned one kickoff for 30 yards and a punt for seven yards. The kickoff coverage allowed a 36-yarder that set up Cincinnati’s lone touchdown.
Banner beware: Friday’s victory is the only one by an NFC East team this month, with the New York Giants and Philadelphia both 0-2 and Dallas 0-3 entering the final week of preseason games. A win or a loss by the Giants plus the Eagles not running up the score against the Jets would assure the Burgundy & Gold of their first August NFC East Certificate (no banners for the preseason) since 2013 when they went 4-0 — and finished the regular season 3-13.