“The way I describe it is: we have a lot of talent, we have to score more points than we have [been],” he told reporters.
Nine other captains, who spoke on condition of anonymity for a coach, expressed frustration with the game. They complained about the unpredictability, abandonment of the game plan against Mel Cleveland and Turner to deviate from plays that work, which several players described as “overpowering” the coordinator himself. They noted that Browns’ fullbacks anticipated their plays in the loss which effectively ended the leaders’ season.
NFL Next Gen Stats tracks “out”—the average time it takes a rusher to cross the line of scrimmage—and against Washington, Cleveland’s out was 0.79 seconds, the fifth-fastest rate by any team in any game this year.
Despite Washington’s significant investment in its offense last season, the unit was a disappointment. The Chiefs are 26th in the NFL in offensive points per game (17.5) and 27th in projected points added, according to TruMedia, both of which have been declining since 2021. The offense collapsed down the stretch, which is the main reason the team sank from the sixth seed. in the NFC on December 18 to elimination three weeks later.
But blame is complicated. The quarterbacking was sub-par, and the personnel department, led by head coach Ron Rivera, was built A line with glaring shortcomings. The offense often struggled—it had the worst starting position in the league—and struggled to maintain a drive, hitting explosive plays and finishing in the red zone.
This week, players constantly pointed fingers at play calls but acknowledged other issues. Some said there was sometimes a poor connection between groups of offensive attitudes. End of Season Sunday – When Rookie quarterback Sam Howell And other young players It will highlight – Rivera can help make final assessments of Turner and what went wrong.
If team owner Daniel Snyder keeps Rivera in the offseason, it will seems likelyespecially given the Possible sale potentialIt will be the coach’s responsibility to analyze the offense’s biggest problems and decide what needs to be changed.
Turner and Rivera declined to comment for this story. Asked during a press conference on Thursday if he was worried about being fired, Turner said, “It’s just part of the league. It can happen. And it can happen to anyone.”
In Turner’s first two seasons, the personnel turnover made it difficult to judge his work. Washington has passed six quarterbacks and has limited playmaking talent outside receiver Terry McLaurin, behind Antonio Gibson and Thomas. Early in the season, the unit made some progress, scoring 28 points in Week 1 and 27 in Week 2.
But the offense stumbled to a heavy toll for Philadelphia, Dallas and Tennessee. In the sixth week before that 12-7 win over ChicagoOn Friday Night Football analyst Ryan Fitzpatrick criticized the Turner scheme, saying it contrasted with the adaptive, player-friendly schemes common in the modern NFL.
“This is the plug-and-play system,” said Fitzpatrick, who played briefly for Washington in 2021. “They’re not going to order plays and make up something for Carson’s game, or maybe something for Terry’s game to get the ball early.”
Once upon a time Washington I turned to Taylor Heineck After Wentz injured his finger, Turner leaned into the identity the offense had evolved into during a four-game winning streak in 2021, running downhill and stopping play. The leaders were more competitive and pulled out Big upsetbeating then-unbeaten Philadelphia on the road.
After two weeks, against the Atlanta FalconsTwo people have said that the first drive of Commanders was an example of Turner at his best. On the first play, he called the concept of a “two” hard play, which became a staple of the offense. The fake feinted the Falcons’ linebackers, sucking them in towards the line of scrimmage and opening up a big throwing window for Henneck, who hit McClurin for 26 yards. They went on to score a touchdown, and Turner kept the Falcons defense lopsided for most of the game with a similar, fake look.
Three weeks later, on “Sunday Night Football”, Turner opened up with a plan to question at least three players. Instead of sticking to the downhill runs and plays, he tried more passing rebounds and running out of his gun. In the first half, the offense appeared helpless, scoring once on every five drives (a field goal) and allowing a tape sack that was returned for a touchdown.
On first down late in the third quarter, Brian Robinson Jr. plowed downhill for seven yards. But on second down, Turner called a flea blink, and on third down, Curtis Samuels middle rider went for two. Players wondered, why did they abandon what just worked?
Sometimes, he seems to be expecting [adjustments from the defense]said one of the players.
In the locker room, criticism of Turner began to surface. Robinson, who finished with 7.4 yards per carry but Only 12 holdsguitar to play.
“I just have to play; I can’t be coached,” he told reporters, adding, “Even when I get frustrated with playing, it’s not my job, so, no matter how I feel during the game during some plays, I have to be on my feet. “
Later that week, when asked about the reason for the offense Struggle in the redPart of the problem, Heinicke suggested, was the scheme.
“Some of the plays we called in there at the end, they’re tough plays to beat on the second cover,” he said.
During his press conference, Turner chided himself – “We really had to give [Robinson] The ball is more ”- but it also seems to go after Heineki.
Sometimes, there will be some narrow windows [deep in the red zone]And you have to give the guys a chance to put on a play.”
The following week, in an end loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Rivera punched out Heinicke in place of Wentz. On 16 returns, Wentz was sharp, handling blitzes and getting the ball out at the fastest rate of his career. during the week, Rivera said he would stay with Wentz Against Cleveland, the seemingly hopeful Wentz will take advantage of Heinicke’s game-playing formula.
Three issues – call play, quarterback run and line run – contributed to this The crushing loss that followedbut not everyone weighs the blame the same.
Several players argued that Turner had abandoned the game plan, which the team had practiced all week, in favor of passing and running concepts that at times had become predictable. One such example is that in two and three tight final sets, Washington ran the ball 21 of 26 times (81 percent), catching the Browns, one of the league’s worst defenses.
Turner likely felt he couldn’t stick to the formula because of the quarterback. Early on, Wentz missed several easy throws, and Turner leaned in to run. When Wentz passed, Turner seemed intent on letting the quarterback keep his eyes up front. He called for different play actions — swapping out the hard move, which works well for Heinicke for the soft movement from the gun — and used more backhand passes. Washington’s pass protection struggled with rebound passes, so Turner sent the assist through double teams and chips, slowing or reducing the number of passers available.
Turner tried several times to go under. One person familiar with the team’s play-calling, who spoke on condition of anonymity to assess Turner, criticized the approach and pointed to Wentz’s second interception. The person admitted that, on paper, the vertical concept works against the second cover. If Wentz hadn’t dropped the ball, Samuel most likely would have gotten a big catch, maybe even a touchdown. But the concept requires Wentz to hit a hard, low-percentage pitch.
The one who admitted that Turner was held back by his staff but argued he could provide easier answers.
“[It’s] “Your job is to put these people in better places to succeed,” the person said. “Are you doing everything you can to level up this group?”
One player said, “I feel bad for Carson.” “I don’t think we knew how to take advantage of it.”
Another player suggested losing the Browns wasn’t down to Turner. The player said Wentz, who was under pressure to save his career, seemed affected even before the start of the match.
After that, echoes of the debate raging in Washington – whose fault was this? He also appeared in the Browns locker room. Midfielder Reggie Ragland and defensive lineman Jadevion Clowney punched Wentz for a “slow release” and was startled by the hits. But defensive end Miles Jarrett saw the leaders’ struggles as rooted in the game plan.
“They wanted to play the field and some plays that developed for a long time,” he said. “I don’t think it really was [Wentz] holding on to it as much as waiting for everything to develop before it.”
Known for his loyalty, Rivera trained with Turner’s father, Norv Turner, for years. But in the past, if Rivera felt it was really necessary, he would kick out those close to them. In August, it was Defensive Line Coach Sam Mills IIIwith whom he worked for several seasons at Carolina State.
In Friday press conferences this season, Rivera has often been in a good mood. He has provided extensive updates and explanations. But on Friday, when asked to rate Turner’s performance this year, he sounded wary.
“We had our moments,” he said. “I think there is [been] Some really good stuff, considering everyone’s availability. You know, it was hard.”
Niki Gabvala in Washington contributed to this report.