What We've Learned In Seven WFT Practices

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Here's what I know after seven Washington Football Team practices that reporters have been allowed to attend. 

1. As I've mentioned on twitter and in this space, "Club Jay" is dead. Thankfully. 

Washington Football fans and my fellow colleagues in the  media used to laugh at me and scoff when I thought it was absurd and counter productive for a losing team that had earned nothing, had a ping-pong table in the locker, club dee jays at select practices and at one point a shuffleboard table along with a mini basketball hoop in the locker room. 

That all may seem absurd to be worried about but my argument was more symbolic than anything. As always, it took on a crazy direction but I was right all along.

One of the FIRST things Ron Rivera did as head coach was to blow out the ping-pong table. This didn't make some players all that happy but work is work. You're in the building to work and take care of business. 

What you do on your own down time (and there's plenty of it) is on you. As long as it's legal. 

There should never, ever, ever, never, ever be a dee jay at practice. For the length of the practice. For the beginning. It doesn't matter. Again, symbolism and messaging is important. 

Ron Rivera and his staff allow music to be blaring during stretching at the beginning of practice. That's fine. That's enough. Zip it after that and focus.

No dee jays, no dancing, no ping pong and a clear standard of staying focused is part of a culture change. 

You can have fun and relax when you do things the right way and the professional way. 

On Saturday, Rivera proved that he's not messing around after a lax practice. 

HOT READ: Washington Football Team Practice Report- Saturday August 22nd

2. Dwayne Haskins and the WFT Quarterbacks have a long way to go. 

Perhaps it's learning a new offense with new terminology and targets? It could also be a lack of game planning and attacking an opponent's weakness. Maybe it's going against a talented defense that is fresh? 

Either way - you can't walk away with any other impression other than it's going to be a roller coaster ride for at least the first month or so of the season. It might be longer. 

This is not just a Dwayne Haskins thing either. Kyle Allen has been mobile but very erratic and turnover prone. Alex Smith clearly still has a long way to go and still shows some issues in his repaired leg, in terms of looking fluid and driving through smoothly. 

As for Haskins, he's had a couple of good practice days. There's no doubt about that. 

He's also had several poor practices and even though Ron Rivera continues to stress that he cares more about Haskins making the correct decisions as opposed to accuracy, just making smart choices does not guarantee success. 

It could lead to disaster as it did earlier this week on a pass to the right flat to J.D. McKissic that led to a pick-six for Landon Collins. 

The offense can't average 17 points a game which is essentially what happened last year. The unit has to generate around the league average in order to give this team a chance to compete for a playoff spot. 

The NFL average last year was 22.8 points per game for all teams and all regular season games. In 2018, the league average was 23.3 points/game. 

Washington was at 16.6 points per game last year. In 2018, they only averaged 17.6 points per game. 

No, bueno. 

3. The defense is either very good or going against a mediocre offense?

It's hard to tell if the defense is so good because they are deep and talented or because the offense is so inconsistent. 

I'll choose to be positive and say they will make some pedestrian NFL offenses look bad. 

The problem is this: Philadelphia, Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore (the first four opponents) figure to be good to very good offensive units. 

HOT READ: Alan Lepore's Roster Projection 4.0 (Includes 16 PS)

Very good might be holding an opponent in the first month in the low 20's but so much is dependent on how good or bad the offense is. 

Either way, the defense should be much better on third down this year and that is one way we can largely judge just how good the defense is. 

4. Coaches are going to be cooking.

WFT coaches and specifically Scott Turner are probably going to have to be cooking up more trick plays, jet-motions and creative personnel looks than they'd ideally like and have time to install. 

That's because without some trickeration, this offense will have a very hard time against good defenses. 

We've seen PLENTY of evidence at practice about the time already spent in the lab and it is thought that Turner will use a big blend of his Dad's offense along with a lot of the new-age wrinkles that have evolved with Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Doug Peterson and other smart offensive play-callers. 

5. This defense is going to enjoy hitting.

Troy Apke who has been the clear No. 1 free safety in camp over Sean Davis has tremendous speed. Everyone knows that. What I wasn't aware of was his physicality. 

He'll have to be careful as he's probably crossed the line at least once and maybe more, but you know when Apke is out there. 

Same thing for Shaun Dion Hamilton, who has been noticeable. 

Speed is also something that has been upgraded across the board. 

Chase Young provides that juice on the defensive line. Kevin Pierre-Louis has provided it on the second level and Apke along with Ronald Darby have absolutely added to the secondary, which was slow and sluggish last year (Josh Norman, Montae Nicholson). 

Washington Football Team Practice Report Archive:

Monday August 24

Sunday August 23 

Saturday August 22

Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Washington Football Team" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621