One analyst thinks defense could make WFT best in NFC East originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
After Washington’s impressive defensive performance to open the season, and underwhelming showings from its division rivals, an inevitable debate began: Is the Washington Football Team the best team in the NFC East?
While it is clearly too early to know the fate of their season after just one strong performance, football analysts have already begun discussing if Washington’s defense can carry the team to the division title for the first time since 2015.
NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms engaged in a debate following Washington’s 27-17 win over the Eagles, and Florio was quick to jump on the Washington bandwagon.
“It was a dominating defensive performance -- eight sacks,” Florio said. “I know the Eagles offensive line wasn’t great, but eight sacks from that defensive front, five first-round picks. If they can keep that up, maybe they’re the best team in the NFC East.”
In its 2020 debut, Washington amassed 14 quarterback hits, eight sacks and two interceptions. The eight sacks were the most by the team since 2014.
However, Simms wasn’t as convinced that the only 1-0 team in the division has a clear road to the title based on its opening performance.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to say that, but certainly it showed they’re going to be a pain in the butt in the NFC East,” Simms said. “Their front four can dictate football games. They can change a game, and that’s what it did yesterday. As much as I want to sit here and praise Washington for what they did and hanging in there and all that, I still look at that game and look at it as the Eagles being stupid and playing careless.”
Simms attributed a large part of Washington’s win to Philadelphia's struggles. He said the team put too much pressure on Carson Wentz to make big plays, especially with a struggling offensive line.
The duo also discussed the institutional arrogance the Eagles had, which led to their downfall after they assumed the matchup would be an easy win. Simms said Philadelphia took a one-dimensional, pass-only approach and that, while the Eagles struggled, Washington proved its dominance in shutting down that style of play.
“If you become one-dimensional and think you’re just going to throw the ball on Washington, get out of town,” Simms said. “It ain’t going to work. When you have five first-rounders and they mix and match who they want in there, it’s tough to match up against that group. When Ryan Kerrigan is the old man, that’s when you know you have something special there.”
While the season is still young, Washington has the weapons it needs to shut down some of the best offenses in the NFL. It's a team with a serious shot at the division title should it continue the high caliber of play displayed in Week 1.