Following the Washington Redskins’ 33-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, 106.7 The Fan’s beat reporter Craig Hoffman captured three need-to-know notes:
1) The Redskins offense is a mess, but there are a million reasons why. These are reasons, not excuses. I don’t know what Jay Gruden is supposed to do. If I had one suggestion, it would be to run the ball more and it’s one Gruden admitted he would take. After saying a heavier skew of run to pass typically is indicative of a successful game, Gruden said directly “We need to be balanced to be successful. So yes, I wish I had that back.”
With that said, the running game wasn’t particularly effective and the offensive line was beaten to smithereens. Morgan Moses, playing on two bad ankles and with a bum shoulder, was the only starting offensive lineman to survive the game. Shawn Lauvao left the game after entering as the only healthy starter. The carnage is absolutely unbelievable. “Arie [Kuoandjio] got out of his car yesterday and he’s playing 50 snaps,” Gruden said about the backup guard the team re-signed yesterday. “And obviously [Tyler] Catalina’s never played left tackle. He played left tackle today and a lot of right guard.”
That’s a stupid sentence. “He played left tackle today and a lot of right guard.” That’s not a thing you do in the NFL and the Redskins did it and fought and had a chance to tie the game with the ball and a minute to go. Their competitive character of this team continues to be extraordinarily impressive even as their talent continues to fall away piece by piece.
The passing game was extraordinarily limited because of the linemen. Cousins was concerned about the protection and while he mostly played through it and trusted his guys, he did so knowing he had to get the ball out quick. This is not the day to complain about Josh Doctson’s lack of targets, as much as I’d like to see him get the ball more. Outside routes, and especially deeper ones, don’t have time. They had to throw inside and quick. Jamison Crowder responded with a 100-yard day. That’s a bright spot in an otherwise bummer of an offensive showing.
2) Defensively this team needs to stop killing itself with stupid penalties. The analysis is really that simple. This defense is good. It plays well consistently. It has talent. It is well coached. It cannot get out of its own way. The message amongst themselves will be simple: “Quit committing stupid penalties. Get off the field.” Do it, and they’ll be fine.
3) Then there is the special teams play, which has been an enormous net negative for this team this year. Jamison Crowder has fumbled three punts and been relatively ineffective as a punt returner. Chris Thompson fumbled a kickoff today. The biggest play of the game was a blocked field goal attempt.
What’s most frustrating is the mistakes are coming from extremely reliable football players. Thompson and Crowder aren’t fumblers, except they have. The snap on the missed field goal looked a little low. Nick Sundberg is great at his job and has been for years. He’s human. It happens. It’s just that it all happened today and the Cowboys took maximum advantage thanks to a truly great return by Orlando Scandrick on the blocked field goal.
Scandrick started his return to the right and the Redskins all flowed that way to stop him. The problem is all the Redskins are blocking types and Scandrick is a running type. He switched fields and used his speed while the Redskins blockers lagged behind. Morgan Moses, of all people with his two bad ankles, chased Scandrick down as a few Skins, including Tress Way, did their best to slow down Scandrick and his wall of blockers. Both coaches and every player said it changed the game with Josh Norman going as far as to say it took the wind out of the Redskins sails.
Quote of the day: Kirk Cousins took a massive shot in the first quarter. He was very happy he was wearing his helmet. “When those hits happen sometimes, you have a bit of a moment where you need to collect yourself, but that one wasn’t too bad,” Cousins said after the game. “I’m thankful for the helmet that I wear. Thanks to Ridell for making that helmet! (media laughs) No seriously, they do a good job! It’s those kinds of hits that make you thankful someone, somewhere in a university is doing research to protect my head because that’s the hit where you say I need the best of the best on my head. When you’re able to walk away from that with no headache, no vision problems, keep playing and you’ve got a clear mind, that’s a beautiful thing in and of itself, but it also gives you the confidence to step out there the next snap trusting that your equipment will do its job for you.”
On the next snap, Cousins threw a 41-yard strike to Jamison Crowder.
Stat of the day: Remember when the Redskins couldn’t start games? Oh, how times have changed. The Skins defense hasn’t allowed opening drive points in six straight games, their longest streak since the last four games of 2011 and the first two games of 2012. Meanwhile, their offense has scored on the opening drive in six straight games, their longest streak since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger per the Elias Sports Bureau.
Follow 106.7 The Fan’s Craig Hoffman on Twitter.