One number to know heading into Washington's Week 1 meeting with Jaguars

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One number to know for Washington's Week 1 meeting with Jaguars originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Before every one of Washington's matchups for the 2022 season, Pete Hailey will present one number to know for that particular battle.

Here's what's on his mind, and what should be on your mind, for when the squad takes on the Jaguars in Week 1.


With Ron Rivera and most of the coaching staff entering their third season in charge, many of their strengths and weaknesses are coming further into focus.

And unfortunately, one of those weaknesses is starting fast on offense.

In 2020, Rivera and coordinator Scott Turner oversaw a unit that averaged 8.4 points in the first half of games. That placed the franchise 30th in that particular category.

Now, in 2021, the offense did progress, raising its first-half scoring average to 10.1 points, which bumped them up to 20th in the sport.

So, if you take that 8.4 number from the 16 contests in 2020 and the 10.1 number from the 17 contests in 2021, Washington's average first-half output under Rivera and this regime is 9.3 points. All told, that's a bottom-third-of-the-NFL-caliber figure.

It's clearly something that must be fixed, beginning this Sunday.

There's always immense pressure for any opener, but with this tilt against Jacksonville representing the Commanders' first appearance under the new name, Carson Wentz's debut and the first step in Rivera's third campaign as the boss, the hosts at FedEx Field could really use a smooth takeoff on offense (and, yes, to be fair, Jack Del Rio's defense can't be nearly as generous as it tends to be with opponents as well).

Should the early struggles continue, however — if there are multiple three-and-outs, a quick turnover or a missed field goal, for example — the Jaguars, who are debuting under Doug Pederson and desperate to erase the memories of a dreadful 2021, could gain rapid confidence and turn this winnable affair for Washington into a tense afternoon.

In the preseason, Wentz and Co. notched one touchdown versus the Panthers, but that end zone trip came on their third possession and Carolina had inserted its backup defense at that juncture. Then, in Kansas City, the crew went scoreless in their three drives.

Were those largely empty first- and second-quarter trips in August an indication of what's to come, or were they more a result of the team not wanting to reveal its approach until the action actually means something?

In the event that the former proves to be true, the stadium this weekend is going to go from festive to frustrated before halftime arrives. Rivera's bunch has had to play from behind far too often since 2020, and that's one of the surest ways in football to falter.

If it's the latter, though, then momentum will build about what the Commanders are capable of — not just when facing the Jags, but when facing the rest of their opponents, too.