Redskins Take A Step Backwards; Yesterday’s Positives and Negatives

Washington Commanders

Despite being all-but eliminated from the playoffs, the Redskins had created some buzz the past two weeks among D.C. fans, as their offense came to life, and the Redskins actually put points on the board. Despite the fact that one of those games ended in a loss, it was a promising outlook of what the offense could look like with more talented personnel. Fans were also excited due to the fact that rookie RB Roy Helu was given the opportunity to be more involved in the offense. Unfortunately, that progress came crashing down yesterday after the Redskins first drive. While there were still some positives they were far outweighed by the negatives, and that is why this game ended up in the Loss column.


Roy Helu Yes Helu had a fumble, which could have been disastrous at the time if the Jets had been able to score there, but overall he looked really good. For the 3rd game this season Helu accounted for nearly 150 yards of offense (albeit about 40 of which came after the game was well out of reach). He ran tough and accelerated through the holes, averaging 4.3 ypc. On more than one occasion he made positive yards out of a carry that looked doomed from the start.

Run Defense Until the Last 5 minutes- I’ll cover the last 5 minutes in the negative, but with a Jets passing attack that was matching the Redskins ineptitude, stopping the run was crucial for the Skins game plan. And for 55 minutes  the Redskins held the Jets to just 68 yards on 26 carries, and kept the Jets from controlling the game. This was a big win for the Skins, and would have been one of the keys had they won the game.

4 for 4 in FG’s- Settling for FG’s might be a negative, but actually getting some points is a positive for a team that has been plagued with missed and blocked kicks all season. Graham Gano kept the Redskins somewhat alive in this game, and did his part.


Getting Away From The Rushing Attack- It is one thing to abandon the running game when you are down two touchdowns, but the Redskins either led or were tied for most of the first 55 minutes of this game yet they still had twice as many passing attempts as rushing attempts (46-23). Yes the Jets began to slow down the running game in the 2nd half, but you can’t abandon the rushing attack when it is working as well as it was.

Not Having a Complementary Back- While I fault the Redskins coaches for not running more, I think they were probably wise not to try to give too many carries to rookie RB Roy Helu. Helu ran the ball 23 times and added 4 receptions, so I do think he was near the peak of touches the Redskins were looking to give him. Unfortunately the Skins right now lack a 2nd back who can take on an additional 5-10 carries a game. In the past two games in which Helu has started, the Redskins backup running backs have a grand total of 1 carry.

Defense Collapsing At The End Of The Game- Now I don’t want to put too much blame on the defense, but after playing an all-around great game for the first 42 minutes of the game, the defense allowed 3 TD’s in the final 7 minutes. The worst was the final two rushing TD’s where in both cases Jets RB Shonn Greene was basically untouched on his way to the end zone. Yes the defense was in a bad position after the sack fumble and the failed onside kick, but great defenses make stops there (or at least make it difficult on an opposing offense). Also, not getting a single sack or turnover against Mark Sanchez is pretty bad, for a Skins defense that is among the leaders in sacks.

The Offensive Line Still Not Effective- The Redskins offensive line has been an issue all year, but once again it let them down when they needed it the most. The Jets got two sacks including the fumble that set up the Jets 3rd TD. But in addition to those plays, Grossman was under pressure on a number of key 3rd down plays. Also, while blocking well on a couple Helu runs, he still had defenders in the backfield on the majority of his carries yesterday, which is just unacceptable.

Special Teams Breakdowns- There are 3 issues that I saw in the Special Teams: 1. I know Joe McKnight is one of the better return men in the league, but why are the Redskins kicking it to an up man and conceding field position? The Redskins coverage unit did well against McKnight earlier in the game, and given how he’s done it all year, I’m sure Gano could have kicked it deep for a touch back if you wanted to limit a return.

2. I love the reverse call on the kickoff return, but when are we going to give another return man a true shot at returning kicks and punts? Brandon Banks had another poor game overall. While he did have one nice kickoff return, and a decent punt return, he also had a number of really bad ones. If he’s not doing the job let’s at least try someone else.

3. I thought the on-side attempt was pretty poor. Not only did it not even come close to being recovered, but the Redskins were offsides on the kick, which is just unacceptable. Sure it is a low percentage play, but that is a crucial play, how can you not execute it without at least not committing a penalty.

Bad Rex Came To Play: Now I know that facing the Jets defense is always tough, and the pressure didn’t help matters at all, but this was a pretty awful game from Grossman. I don’t even really knock him for the fumble since it was 3rd and long, and it was going to take time for the play to develop (not to mention that Jamaal Brown just got beat). I also don’t care much about the interception at the end as he needs to at least attempt a pass down the field. What I can’t stand is just how ineffective that passing attack was. Grossman was 19 of 46 for 221 yards. That is a 41% completion rate, and an average of 4.8 yards per attempt. That means the Redskins gained nearly as many yards per rushing attempt as they did passing attempt, which is just pathetic. Even if the Redskins add a rookie QB next year, they should look for a better stopgap QB than Grossman. It’s alright if he’s the Skins backup, but he shouldn’t be going into the year as the starter, and a game like yesterday shows exactly why.

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