Washington heads back to the field to face the Atlanta Falcons after a disappointing 40-20 loss to the Chicago Bears last Thursday. Their plan to come back successful comes down to the game's rhythm and their cohesive team mindset.
It was an all-around frustrating loss to the Bear during Thursday Night Football. The fans watched as Washington's defense flustered through the first half and the offense played catch-up in the second. The unexpected defeat left players disappointed in the post-game locker room- reiterating messages centered around returning to the film room to draw on their mistakes and revise.
And for the last week, that's what the Commanders have managed to do, set on regaining the rhythm they need to bring on the field, maintaining explicit attention to their position jobs, and cultivating an energy among teammates that emphasizes the same values.
"I think when you compound mistakes, it's hard to get a rhythm," said wide receiver Terry McLaurin. "Second half, we played a lot better, but by that point, we were playing catch-up, so we were out of our game plan. But we don't wanna play catch-up."
Take a look at the Washington Commanders getting on the plane for their road trip to take on the Atlanta Falcons.
McLaurin notes how playing from behind in a game throws off the rhythm. When that happens, the Commanders begin to notice a lack of execution of their positional jobs. And to keep that rhythm moving, Commanders need to strike first.
"The biggest thing is we have to look at starting the game fast," said guard Sam Cosmi. "Being able to get that first down and convert on third downs is huge for our offense. It is so important. I feel like once we get the ball rolling, we get the ball rolling. I mean, we can really move the ball and do all that, but that initial start is huge for us. We'll always come to work- we work hard. We come here and improve on what we messed up."
Prioritizing jobs from position to position will limit the gaps Washington finds themselves falling through. Throughout this practice week, the team revised and refocused on what they could do to reset their mindset and take on a new week.
The first step in that process: taking accountability.
"I mean, we still have a lot of season left. Trust me, it sucks losing," Cosmi said. "But just taking accountability for your actions and going into the film room and seeing where we went wrong is the biggest thing."
As the team takes accountability, they can adjust and see precisely what needs to change. From last week, they know it's about focusing on moving the ball correctly and not necessarily making the "super" plays.
"We don't ask anybody to do anything that's out of their capabilities or out of their job," said cornerback Kendall Fuller. "It's a matter of collectively just going out there, doing our jobs, and making our plays. So, when you do that, the little things, we don't need anybody making super plays."
Even though it begins with accountability, it's also essential to know exactly how you will take that mistake and learn from it so it doesn't happen again. Dealing with these mistakes and reviewing a problematic round of film is why the Commanders are trying to unify their mindset and stick together throughout their season.
"I think for the media and fans, it's a week-by-week thing- but for us, we gotta stay steady," Fuller said. "We need to put our head down and keep on working and trust that the results are going to show up. That's life. You're never going to go through an NFL season where everything's pretty, and you're going to hit some adversity. That's football, that's life in general. We stay together, work together, and we'll fight our way out of it."