Typically this year the Washington Redskins have lost because of their failures on defense or special teams, but the games were close due to positive performances from their offense and a big play or two from their defense. That didn’t happen against Pittsburgh as they lost in every facet of game. It was an all-around embarrassing performance and one that they need to find some quick answers for. They now stand at 3-5 with some big division games ahead of them. If they are to have any shot at making a playoff run they will need to fix a number of areas.
It doesn’t matter what the weather conditions were 10 drops is just unacceptable. Yes I’m sure the weather played a factor, as the Steelers had 4 or 5 drops of their own, but no way does that excuse the receivers performance. While a couple of the passes were off target, the majority were right on the money and need to be hauled in. Some may point to Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis being out, but both of them have poor track records when it comes to drops, so it is hardly a sure thing that they would have made a difference. The fact is even without Garcon and Davis, you should be able to count on guys like Santana Moss, Joshua Morgan and Leonard Hankerson given what resources you’ve invested in them. The Redskins receiver corps was considered a strength of this offense and they let the team down.
-Yes they only gave up one sack in 35 dropbacks, but that only tells part of the story. They gave up a number of plays where Robert Griffin III had guys in his face and had to move around. This caused some more errant throws or dump offs for minimal gains. The Steelers defensive line and blitzers had a greater control at the point of attack, which always leads to trouble. In the running game they gave up penetration on a number of plays (including three negative carries). Most of Morris’s runs saw him dealing with a defender at or behind the line of scrimmage. Of Morris’s 13 runs, they may have only blocked well on 3 or 4 of them. The Redskins averaged just 4.1 yards per carry, which was over a yard and a half fewer than their average for the season.
-I get trying to show the Steelers some different looks, but trying to rely on trick plays and misdirection against one of the more experienced units, and probably the most well coached defensive team is a recipe for disaster. That flea-flicker play and the receiver pass play were really bad calls given the situation on the field. If the defense wasn’t biting as hard on the zone read play actions, why do you think they would fall apart on a trick play? The Redskins should have also tried to run the ball more in the first three quarters. It is understandable to abandon it in the 4th, but before then Washington ignored their greatest strength. The worst part of the play calling was the lack of urgency in the 4th quarter. The Redskins maybe didn’t have to go no-huddle versus a tough defense like the Steelers, but they probably shouldn’t have tried to kill the clock either.
-This is without a doubt the most reoccurring theme of the Washington Redskins season. The Redskins linebackers were once again unable to cover any tight ends or running backs. At the same time the corners and safeties couldn’t cover the Steelers receivers. At this point this lack of coverage ability is expected, as far less talented quarterbacks and receivers have picked apart the Skins, but it is still a big reason why the Redskins lost.
-Perhaps most troubling about the Redskins pass defense is their lack of pressure (again). The secondary was a major hole even before the suspensions and injuries, and was considered the weak part of the Redskins defense. The only way to mask it would be with a quality pass rush, yet once again that didn’t occur. The Redskins front 7 was supposed to be the strength of this team, in particular with getting after the quarterback, but since the 2nd half of the Buccaneers game that hasn’t been the case (with the exception of a couple of drives against Minnesota). Yes Ben Roethlisberger is a tough quarterback to pressure as he moves around in the pocket, and can still be effective when he’s taking a hit, but you have to at least try. And the excuse of worrying about the coverage is a joke. The Redskins aren’t going to be able to cover these receivers even if they dropped 8 guys into coverage. In fact one of their few “stops” all game, was when they ran their cover zero forcing Roethlisberger to throw it short of the first down. The Redskins barely got any pressure on Roethlisberger, and they paid for it. As for any excuses about missing Brian Orakpo, those get thrown out the window given that the Steelers were missing two of their starting offensive linemen.
-Last week Hall thought in his infinite wisdom to call out the coverage of the Redskins on that 77 yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Hall went out of course and backed up his words with his play…oops. Before getting to his ‘incident’ at the end of the game, Hall played awful all game. Steelers receivers were getting quite a bit of separation from him, and made a number of catches where he was defending. Hall also missed multiple tackles during the game, which cost the Redskins some longer gains. Finally, while the game was really out of reach, Hall’s outburst on the officials showed once again his lack of leadership, sportsmanship and maturity. It was completely uncalled for. It will also cost the Redskins next week as well, as Hall could very likely be suspended by the league. When Hall is reinstated the Redskins should absolutely consider cutting him now, instead of waiting till after the season. They need to send a message that those kinds of outburst won’t be tolerate, and to not continue to reward Hall’s poor play.