Head coach Ron Rivera knows the Washington Football Team's offense will be a work in progress. It has a new offensive coordinator in Scott Turner, a second-year quarterback in Dwayne Haskins Jr., an entirely new running backs room and mostly inexperienced wide receivers.
"Right now, I think we're just starting to scratch the surface of it," Rivera told reporters Thursday. "It's going to take a while before we get to where we want to be. It's not one of those things where as you start game-planning you start adding and adding and adding. Now as you start game-planning, you're going to really just put what you believe in the game plan that's going to help you win the game. We've got a way to go. You probably really won't see it or get a feel for it until really next season."
The offense's growing pains were evident for much of a 30-15 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Six of its first seven possessions ended in punts, while the other was a fumble by Haskins inside the Cardinals' red zone. And while the unit gained 316 yards of total offense, much of that production came in the fourth quarter with Arizona holding a commanding lead.
The biggest bright spot was second-year wideout Terry McLaurin, who hauled in seven receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Similar to its season opener against the Eagles, Washington (1-1) fell behind early against the Cardinals. Following a three-and-out to start the game, Washington's defense immediately allowed a 10-play, 63-yard drive, which ended with a wide open touchdown reception by DeAndre Hopkins (eight receptions, 68 yards and a touchdown.) Arizona then doubled its lead at the end of the quarter on a 14-yard scramble from Kyler Murray, who weaved between defenders and into the end zone.
It was a strong start to an exceptional day for Murray. In addition to completing 26 of his 38 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown, he added 67 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. He did throw one interception -- the first of Landon Collins' tenure in Washington -- but Washington's ensuing drive ended moments later following Haskins' fumble.
Facing a 20-0 halftime deficit, Washington gained some momentum by forcing back-to-back three-and-outs and getting on the scoreboard with a short field goal from Dustin Hopkins. But on Arizona's next possession, Murray all but put the game away with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard rushing score.
Washington's offense finished strong with a pair of touchdown drives spanning at least 75 yards. Those possessions, which ended with a 24-yard touchdown reception for McLaurin and an 11-yard rushing score from Antonio Gibson, should give the team momentum heading into next week's game in Cleveland.
For the second straight game, Haskins did not throw an interception. He finished 19-for-33 passing with 223 yards and a touchdown -- most of which came in the fourth quarter. Washington's running game was also much better than it was against the Eagles; Gibson and J.D. McKissic combined for 108 yards rushing on just 21 carries.