5 takeaways from Washington’s 33-22 loss to the Saints in Week 5

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The 2021 Washington Football Team manages to reach a new low each week. In Sunday’s 33-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints, it was a game plagued with Washington mistakes on both sides of the ball.

Washington’s beleaguered secondary was beaten deep on two touchdowns, one of which was a hail mary at the end of the first half when Washington’s defenders didn’t even attempt to make a play on the football.

Yes, it was ugly.

On offense, quarterback Taylor Heinicke looked very much like a career journeyman filling in for the injured starter. Heinicke completed 20 of 41 passes with two interceptions.

The loss drops Washington to 2-3 on the season, with the Kansas City Chiefs on deck in Week 6.

Here are five takeaways from Washington’s Week 5 loss to the Saints:

Taylor Heinicke is who we thought he was

Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) scrambles with the ball as New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) defends during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Heinicke’s performance continues to vary from week to week. He led Washington to an impressive come-from-behind win over the Falcons last week against a bad Falcons defense. This week, against a much better New Orleans defense, Heinicke was all over the place.

Not only was Heinicke intercepted twice, but he also had other passes that should’ve been intercepted. He missed open receivers throughout the game, opting instead to force the ball into coverage to Terry McLaurin.

Heinicke’s arm isn’t strong enough to make some of the throws he attempts. He’s a fun player who can give you a lift off the bench, but if he plays 16 games, defenses will adjust. Heinicke is who he is, and that’s not a long-term starter.

Terry McLaurin could've had a much bigger day

Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) catches a pass as New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) defends during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Terry McLaurin’s final stat line reads like he had a rough game. Washington’s No. 1 wide receiver caught four passes for 46 yards. McLaurin was mostly lined up against his former college teammate, Marshon Lattimore, in what was a good battle.

Numerous times, McLaurin beat Lattimore, but had to pause and wait for a Heinicke throw that was either behind him, or a bit too high.

Don’t believe what you read that Lattimore shut down McLaurin. Go back and watch the game. McLaurin should have had a bigger game, but was let down by his quarterback.

It's time to end Curtis Samuel's season

Washington Football Team wide receiver Curtis Samuel (10) works during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Atlanta. The Washington Football Team won 34-30. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Curtis Samuel was listed as questionable on the injury report after making his debut last week against the Falcons. He played sparingly, and re-aggravated the groin injury that has given him trouble since minicamp.

Fans have seen this movie way too often about a new acquisition. When he’s hurt in the summer and coaches say it’s no big deal, then it’s a big deal. Maybe Washington should’ve activated him from injured reserve but not played him immediately. Who knows.

It’s time to pull the plug on Samuel’s season. If he isn’t healthy, it’s not worth jeopardizing his future by playing him in a meaningless season.

Chase Young is on the board

Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) passes the ball under pressure form Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) during the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Young finally got on the board in the sack column Sunday when he sacked Jameis Winston and forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Daron Payne picked up the ball and returned it to give Washington outstanding field position.

While Young didn’t record another sack, it was big for him to just get that first one. This was an impactful play that helped the team, but the offense failed to deliver.

This secondary is just.........bad

Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) catches a touchdown pass against the Washington Football Team during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints got on the scoreboard first when Winston found Deonte Harris for an easy 72-yard touchdown. Safety Landon Collins failed to get proper depth as the speedy Harris zoomed past him and it wasn’t even close.

Then, there was that hail mary which will stick with Washington fans for years, much like Jim Zorn’s “Swinging Gate” play. And not in a good way.

This secondary cannot cover anyone. They miss tackles and are always out of position. It’s time for secondary coach Chris Harris and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to make some serious changes, if that means bringing safety Jeremy Reaves to the main roster to pair with Kam Curl at safety.

One thing is certain, the Collins/Bobby McCain safety duo is not getting it done.

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