ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Carson Wentz is not channeling his inner Chicken Little after the Washington Commanders fell to 1-2 on the season.
“We’ve got to fix some things,” Wentz said. “I don’t think it’s anything major. I don’t think it’s anything like ‘Oh boy, the sky is falling.’”
In the aftermath of 24-8 home loss to Philadelphia and with another key NFC East game at Dallas coming up Sunday, coach Ron Rivera echoed those sentiments — while adding he's not in the business of calling out players for the mistakes they know they're making.
“The guys that need to play better got to play better,” Rivera said Monday. “There’s some things that we have to fix, and that’s the truth of the matter. We have to play better. When we’re in opportunities and situations to make something happen, we’ve got to do those things. We’ve looked at it, we’ve figured it out, we’ve addressed it. Now we’ve got to go out and do it.”
One of those things is keeping Wentz upright; the Eagles sacked him nine times. Some of that could be blamed on protection breakdowns, though Rivera agreed after watching game film that Wentz made a few mistakes by holding onto the ball too long.
Wentz acknowledged that after a poor showing in his first chance to face the team that drafted him.
“It’s not the O-line,” Wentz said. “I’ve got to be better. I have to get rid of the ball in a lot of those situations, find a check down and move on — different things like that.”
Defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen continue to play well, and they succeeded in taking away a lot of opportunities for Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts to run the ball.
Philadelphia had to adjust to that, and coach Nick Sirianni singled out that area of the game specifically.
“Credit them, that’s a really good defensive line,” Sirianni said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Payne and Allen and (pass rusher Montez) Sweat. Those are good football players.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Opponents' big-yardage plays continue to be an issue. Rivera cited them as the reason for Washington's 36-27 loss at Detroit in Week 2, and the Eagles succeeded on pass plays of 23, 38, 40, 44 and 45 yards.
Rivera sees progress in how those happened Sunday.
“This week we had guys that were there, and it was a matter of being able to get to the ball and make the play on it,” he said. “In Detroit, we weren’t in position down the field on a couple of those to make the play. But this one was tougher because we had guys that worked at it, that were there and unfortunately didn’t make the play.”
Second-year cornerback Benjamin St-Juste held his own when pressed into starting duty by William Jackson's back injury. St-Juste gave up some plays, but he also showed some potential for growth.
Washington's remade offensive line is not holding up well. Guards Trai Turner and Andrew Norwell and center Wes Schweitzer, filling in for injured starter Chase Roullier, struggled along with right tackle Sam Cosmi when the Eagles brought pressure.
Jackson's status bears watching this week after the back injury crept up over the weekend and led to him getting scratched. Washington is also banged up along the defensive line, playing without Chase Young (ACL surgery recovery), Casey Toohill (concussion), Daniel Wise (ankle) and rookie Phidarian Mathis (knee)
Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., who is recovering from two gunshot wounds to his right leg, worked out on the field prior to the game Sunday. Robinson can be activated as soon as Week 5 when Washington hosts Tennessee, but that's no guarantee.
“He’s headed in the right direction, but we don’t really know," Rivera said. "We won’t know until we get to that point where we have that feel. The doctors are going to examine, the doctors are going to let us know.”
0 — Points the Commanders have scored in the first half over the past two games.
Avoiding a 1-3 start means winning at Dallas, a second consecutive opponent coming off a short week. FanDuel Sportsbook opened with the Cowboys as 3-point home favorites.
“This is a very important game, mostly because it’s the one we’re about to play and it’s the only one we’ll play this week, so we’ve got to focus on exactly that,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to focus on Dallas, focus on who they are.”
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