The Washington Commanders put up one of their worst offensive performances in recent memory. With the unit marred by turnovers and a lack of production in the second half, it allowed the visiting Buffalo Bills to run away with the score in the fourth quarter.
The question assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has for his players as they prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles: what are they going to do about it?
"The only thing I'm measuring is to see how we respond," Bieniemy said. "That's what this is about. You're going to have highs and lows. Championship teams find ways to work through those tough times, and that's the thing that we have to continue to do."
Bieniemy made it clear with some colorful language that Washington had a bad day against the Bills. Some players had strong individual performances, but as a unit, the offense did not do enough to hold up against what Buffalo brought to the field. While the second half performance against the Denver Broncos showed promise, the entirety of the Bills game was filled with more disappointment than hope.
As Bieniemy said, "Sometimes you have bad days, and it happens." As for why the Commanders performed the way they did -- like the nine sacks and the five total turnovers -- it was the result of a combination of factors.
"We've got to make sure that we're doing a great job as a coaching staff, and that starts right here with me, I am the offensive coordinator," Bieniemy said. "On top of that, we just got to make sure that we're out there executing."
Although the game quickly got out of hand in the fourth quarter, Bieniemy did like the way the offense fought through the entire game. Sam Howell is a prime example of that. The young quarterback played the entire fourth quarter, and even though it was overall the worst performance of his young NFL career, he also had some moments where "he did a hell of a job."
"And then there were some opportunities, we didn't do such a great job," Bieniemy said. "But that's the thing, when you are a team going through a season, you're going to have your highs and you're going to have your lows."
Now, Bieniemy wants to see if the offense can learn from its mistakes.
"Now it's about being resilient, handling all the stuff that we went through. Now just accept it, life lessons that we learn from watching the tape and we keep it moving forward."
And that doesn't stop with the players. He's throwing everyone, including himself, into the mix.
"We have to be better. Eric Bieniemy has to be better. Our offensive coaching staff needs to be better; our players need to be better. Our job is to make sure collectively that we're all being accountable and that we stay the course. There's no need to panic, there's no need to basically say the sky is falling. No, this is the time when you tighten up everything."
-- The Commanders received some more positive news regarding Logan Thomas, who missed the Bills game with a concussion. He was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday, putting him one step closer to being available against the Eagles.
-- While there were plenty of negatives from the offense on Sunday, there were also a few moments when the unit managed to move the ball and even get in scoring position. When it comes to Howell's development, Bieniemy wants him to be cognizant of "all of it."
"He's very aware of his mistakes. He's very aware of the things that he didn't do. That's what you love about him. He's a very honest kid. He doesn't shy away from anything. He knows exactly what took place. That's the type of relationship that you want to have. Like I said, he's a young kid, first time playing through this situation, not ideal, but I'm proud of the fact that he hung in there and it was a great experience for him to go through."
-- The Commanders' defense will be taking on running back D'Andre Swift, who is currently second in the league with 308 rushing yards. Swift has a history of gashing Washington in the past. He had a 50-yard run against the unit in 2022 when he played for the Detroit Lions. To Del Rio, Swift fits right in with how the Eagles run their offense.
"They always have a very capable back, so Swift obviously is that. He's had a great start to the year. It'll be a big challenge for us."
-- By now, NFL fans know that the Eagles use a specific formation, informally known as the "tush push," for quarterback sneaks that has proven nearly impossible for teams to defend. Del Rio said it's not being officiated as illegal, so they simply have to figure out how to stop it. However, he did say that he would "personally like to see it eliminated."
"Not just because they run it better than anybody, although they do run it better than anybody. But I don't think that's a football play. I think it's a nice rugby play, and it's not what we're looking for in football. But until it's outlawed, we'll prepare for it and get ready to do our best to stop it."