Passing Game Failures Plague the Offense

Redskins Personnel Washington Commanders

The Broncos came into yesterday’s game with one of the worst passing defenses in the league, and with their top corner out for the game injured. If you watched the game that would have been a surprise as the Redskins were just 20-39 for 180 yards 1 TD and 4 interceptions. It was an embarrassment for the Redskins high powered offense, and helped the Redskins fall to 2-5 on the season.

Robert Griffin III had perhaps his worst game as a Redskin, completing 15-30 passing for 132 yards, 1 TD and two interceptions. In addition to the two interceptions, Griffin had a crucial fumble in the 4th quarter that basically sealed the game. Going beyond the box score, Griffin’s game looked even worse. He was off target on most of his throws (even some of his completed passes), and too often looked confused with what the defense was doing. He threw into heavy coverage a couple of times, forcing the ball rather than scrambling for a short gain or throwing to a more open receiver. Griffin really struggled with dealing with pressure and looked uncomfortable all day in the pocket. While the pressure might not be his fault, how he reacted to it was. A lot of these issues have been problems all year for Griffin, but were even more pronounced in this game. Now Griffin doesn’t deserve all the blame, as this was a complete failure of the passing attack, but his lack of development/rust from the injury is getting exposed by smart defenses this year.griffinstruggles

One area that could help Griffin from getting exposed is the play calling. For some reason this year the Redskins have been forcing the ball in the air, which has never been Mike Shanahan’s style. Griffin threw the ball 30 times before leaving, which is a recipe for failure at this point in his career and in this offense. It would have been one thing if the Redskins were trailing big the whole game, but they were up 21-14 as the 4th quarter started and the running game was working. The Redskins panicked and abandoned the run. It allowed the Broncos to get more aggressive with their blitzes which forced more bad decisions and costly mistakes by the Redskins. In addition to the overall number of passes, the design of some of their plays was bizarre as well. Yes Denver had gotten exploited deep in the past, but the Redskins seemed to be trying to force the ball down the field, which is not the strength of their passing attack.

Another area that let down the Redskins passing attack was the offensive line and pass protection. Griffin was under pressure for almost half of his dropbacks in this game, which would have taken it’s toll on any quarterback. Yes the Broncos can get after the quarterback (especially with Von Miller back), but you have to protect your franchise QB better than that. Especially a guy who is coming off a serious injury and isn’t particularly comfortable in the pocket. Now part of the issue again goes back to the play calling as the slow developing deeper routes are obviously going to force you to pass block for longer, but other issues were just on the line. Too many free rushers came in that weren’t picked up by anyone. The Redskins are just asking for another injury to Griffin if they keep allowing that to happen.

The final area of concern is Griffin’s weapons. Last year the Redskins receivers and tight ends were without Fred Davis for 10 weeks and Pierre Garcon for 6 weeks, and had him less than 100% for 2-3 additional weeks. Despite those losses this unit was able to produce at a much higher level. Now Davis may still be MIA, but Jordan Reed has firmly taken over for him. Despite having a healthy Garcon and Reed, the Redskins passing are way down this year. Part of it can be blamed on the play calling and Griffin’s inaccuracy and decision making, but the receivers deserve their share of the blame as well. We aren’t seeing them get open as much this year, and they aren’t getting the same amount of yards after the catch as they did in 2012. Against the Broncos this remained the same as we saw the drops, lack of separation and little in terms of YAC. Overall they are probably the smallest part of the equation, but they still hurt this team ability to throw the football with any consistency.

Every facet of the passing game failed on Sunday versus the Broncos (and has failed throughout the season), which again brings to mind the question: Why are we throwing the ball 30+ times a game when it is so ineffective?

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