Following the Washington Redskins’ 38-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, 106.7 The Fan’s beat reporter Craig Hoffman captured three need-to-know notes:
I am going to blow your mind with the best analysis you have ever heard. It is so good I am going to put it on its own line.
1. Better players are better.
Better players catch the ball. Better players win their one-on-one matchups. Better players don’t lose matchups in a way that kill you, even when they lose. The Redskins don’t have enough good players to field a quality NFL football team anymore and this is why they lost.
Jay Gruden snapped back when asked what he made of them coming out flat. “I wouldn’t say it was flat,” Gruden exasperatedly said from the podium. “I’d just say we just dropped the ball. We had two fumbles and a dropped pass that resulted in an interception, so I don’t think we came out flat. We just didn’t protect the football.”
Kirk Cousins was equally as assertive in shutting down the lack of effort idea. “If you think it was a lack of effort, then you really just don’t know football.”
This is where some observers would say, “Isn’t it on the coach to make sure his team is prepared?” Redskins coaches preach ball security. Professional football players don’t need to be told: “don’t fumble.” They didn’t forget to hang the “catch the ball when it’s thrown to you” sign in the locker room. They’re short on players who can do these things consistently.
Being good at the professional level isn’t about how well you can do the spectacular. It’s about how consistently you can do the competent. On Thursday, the answer for nearly every player was “not close to often enough.”
2. Especially when you’re short-handed, your best players have to play like it. Jamison Crowder is one of the Redskins best (remaining) players and he had been brilliant in three straight games. He wasn’t just not brilliant Thursday night, he was negatively impactful in a way that’s almost hard for a wide receiver. The Redskins second drive was rolling until Kirk Cousins hit Crowder inside the five and the ball ricocheted into the hands of Cowboys safety Jeff Heath.
The Redskins recovered and forced a 3 and out. They had completely controlled the game to that point. The defense had forced three straight three and outs and the offense should have had a touchdown until an unfortunate bounce. With one fumbled punt, everything changed. It was Crowder’s fourth fumbled punt of the year. That is absolutely stunning.
Crowder did have big plays later including a massive 3rd down catch and run from Cousins late in the first half that kept Washington in the game for the time being. However, the hole he put them in early is somewhat hard to understate. It’s not all on him, not even close. However, since he’s perhaps the Redskins best remaining offensive option there is essentially no room for him to make the mistakes he did. Is that fair? No, but it is where the Redskins were and those mistakes were made.
3. The offensive line, in particular, was bad Thursday and they were bad against one of the best pass rushes in the league. Ty Nsekhe has worked exclusively at left guard for two weeks. On a moment’s notice, he was asked to line up at right tackle against the NFL’s sack leader. That didn’t go well. Neither did Arie Kouandjio at left guard.
Also hurting the pass protection is the loss of Chris Thompson. Samaje Perine simply isn’t as good at protecting as Thompson is, not to mention the safety valve Thompson served as out of the backfield.
Quote of the day: “We just don’t have anybody to put back there right now. We just don’t. Mo Harris is in the concussion protocol. We don’t have anyone else to return a punt.” –Gruden when asked about replacing Crowder following his fourth fumbled punt of the season.
Stat of the day: Alfred Morris had 127 yards rushing. That’s the first time he’s broken 100 yards since the final week of the 2015 season. He was a member of the Redskins. It was against the Cowboys. (That game was actually January 3, 2016 for the detail-oriented folks).
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