Now no one thought the Cowboys game would be an easy contest for the Redskins, as Dallas has shown that they can keep games close, even when the lose. That being said, this was a must win game versus the Redskins top division rival and Washington had an extra week to prepare for it. Here are the top 10 failures of the Redskins from last night’s game, and why they are sitting at 1-4:
-While the Redskins special teams has had numerous problems to start the season, one area where they were strong at was their coverage units. That all changed with Dwayne Harris absolutely torching the Redskins special teams units. Harris returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, and then after the Redskins cut the lead to 14-9, he returned the ensuing kick-off 90 yards. The Cowboys went up 21-9 two plays later, making it really tough for the Redskins to try to mount a comeback.
-After having a near penalty free game against the Raiders, the hope was the Redskins could continue to play relative mistake free football. That hope was quickly dashed as the Redskins committed 12 accepted penalties for 104 yards in penalty yardage. Just way too many costly mistakes by the Redskins that really hindered them throughout the game. Many of them were probably pretty avoidable as well, which is the most frustrating. To be that undisciplined is unacceptable, especially because this is an issue that goes back to last season.
-The Cowboys were without DT Jay Ratliff and DE Anthony Spencer, and their best defensive player DeMarcus Ware left early in the game, yet the Redskins line seemed to be giving up pressure on almost every other passing play. As can be expected Griffin’s accuracy suffered due to the extra pressure, and it led to some real negative plays for the Redskins offense that stopped drives in their tracks.
-On a couple runs in the second half (most notably Morris’s TD) the blocking was pretty good, but in the first half when the Redskins were trying to get their offense going Alfred Morris found little running room and it really hindered this offense. Morris showed what he could do when given the room to maneuver, but he simply can’t do it alone. The Redskins need to be able to rely on a consistent ground game, and not just hope for the big plays.
-The Redskins lost the turnover battle 2-1, which is a huge no-no for this team’s chances of success. Robert Griffin III had both the interception and the fumble, and put the ball on the ground another time as he was being sacked though the Redskins got that back. While the interception wasn’t really his fault as the receiver slipped, on the two fumbles he deserved more of the blame. While the line is mostly at fault for allowing the pressure, Griffin didn’t feel the pressure well and the ball wasn’t protected. The one fumble led to an easy Dallas TD that all but put the game away. These are the types of errors the Redskins didn’t make last year, and a big reason why they made it to the postseason.
-Special teams were responsible for numerous penalties which cost the Redskins field position throughout the game. It was so bad that even the special teams coordinator Keith Burns committed a penalty. Between that and and blown coverage’s on kicks, you would’t think it could get much worse…but it did. Mister Automatic last season, Kai Forbath missed his 2nd field goal of the year. Not only would it have cut the Cowboys lead to 21-19, but the missed kick gave Dallas excellent field position which they capitalized on for a field goal of their own. The Redskins own return game continued to be non-existent and making some questionable decisions.
-Overall the defense played pretty well, but their tackling still remains a serious issue. On the Cowboys opening drive, they broke numerous tackles to continuously move the chains, and in fact, on multiple plays they broke more than one tackle. It wasn’t as glaring of an issue for the rest of the game, but there were still a few missed tackles later on that hurt the Redskins.
-RGIII had some issues with off target passes or throwing into double coverage, but he also had issues with his receivers simply failing to catch the ball. Drops have plagued the Redskins these last two years, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix for it this season. While you expect to have some drops, the Redskins had far too many last night, especially in what was a crucial game.
-What was going on here? The Redskins had some nice success running no-huddle and up-tempo on their first drive, but then abandoned it the rest of the way. What was most surprising was the fact they didn’t use it in the situations when the needed it the most at the end of the half or game. At the end of the half was really bad as the Redskins didn’t take a timeout after the big 3rd down completion to Jordan Reed that gave them good field position. It not only forced a rushed play, but it cost them valuable time that they could have used to extend the drive. Had the Redskins been able to get a touchdown there and with them getting the ball to open 2nd half, it could have completely changed the game.
Another issue with clock management was the sheer number of plays that seemed to be snapped with under 4 seconds left on the play clock. Not only is that eating up clock throughout the game, when the Redskins were constantly behind, but it is a big advantage for the defense. When they can sneak a look and see that the quarterback only has a couple seconds to get the snap off they can jump the count more easily. This is especially true for blitzers walking up to the line. The Redskins need to get the plays in quicker and the plays off sooner, especially in a situation when you are trailing the entire game.
-While it was good seeing Griffin run more and the read option threat more present, overall the play calling was unimaginative. The hurry-up had some initial success and then it was abandoned again. On both of the first half scoring drives, the final play before the field goal was basically a quarterback draw that the Cowboys were clearly prepared for. Sure on one play a block by Montgomery could have sprung Griffin for the TD, but LB Sean Lee was ready and he made the superior play. The Redskins were 0-3 in the red zone and 0-1 from goal to go. You simply don’t win many football games on the road when you can’t capitalize on those situations.