Thoughts and Observations from the Redskins vs Titans Game
1. What the Redskins win means:
-The number one thing this win means for the Redskins is in terms of confidence boosting for this team. They had lost four straight games and were embarrassed they last time they were on their home field, so the Redskins were desperate for something positive to come out of this game. The fact that the Redskins were able to come from behind in this game is big for this team which had struggled throughout the season to play from behind. Also there were a couple of instances where it would have been very easy for this team to give up and let the Titans take over the game, but instead they held their ground and kept it close.
While the Redskins got their 2nd win, it wasn’t exactly pretty as they struggled in a number of areas. Once again they were really bad on 3rd downs, converting just 3 of 11. The Redskins were 0-4 in the red zone and couldn’t get their run game established, in a game where they had to turn to their 3rd QB. This is not a recipe for continued success, and a lot of what happened in this game needs to be fixed as the Redskins look to build upon it in their final 9 games. While they did get the win, and kept playoff hopes alive, it is still a major long shot that they could get to the post season. The Redskins would probably need 10 wins to get even a wild card berth in the NFC this year, and it is very tough to find 8 more wins on their schedule. What’s most important though is to try to fix what went wrong and build upon it for the future. If that leads to the playoffs that is great, but what’s most important is figuring out who can be apart of this team going forward.
2. Colt replacing Kirk:
-The Redskins made the decision at halftime to bench Kirk Cousins and go with the more veteran Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy sparked the offense and the crowd, with good safe throws and composure when the game was on the line. Until Robert Griffin III returns from injury, it appears that Colt McCoy will be the starting quarterback on this team. McCoy is not a savior for this team, but he likely won’t make some of the same mistakes we’ve seen in recent weeks with Kirk Cousins. McCoy will hopefully put the Redskins in position to win some games while RGIII remains sidelined and will be a capable back-up when Griffin returns.
3. Tyler Polumbus or Tom Compton:
-The Redskins began rotating their right tackle position in the 2nd half, using both Tyler Polumbus and Tom Compton in that role. Polumbus has struggled mightily this season and he gave up some big pressures early in the game. Compton came in as the only active back-up tackle and though he was maybe slightly better, he struggled as well to maintain his blocks. It’s a positive that the team is showing signs of being willing to move on from Polumbus, but Tom Compton is clearly not the answer either. Hopefully the Redskins can look to turn to their rookie 3rd rounder Morgan Moses shortly to handle the position. Though he might make some mistakes as well, Moses has the size, strength and potential to handle the position long term. His mistakes will be more due to his inexperience, rather than simply just not being able to get the job done like Polumbus/Compton.
4. Injury to Brian Orakpo:
-Brian Orakpo suffered his third injury of the year and unfortunately it is the most serious, as he tore a muscle in his right pectoral that will sideline him for the rest of the year. While Orakpo had only gotten .5 a sack this season, he’s still been pretty solid, especially considering he was dealing with a broken finger and sprained ankle. Orakpo was definitely a disappointment in terms of being the Redskins’ franchise player, but his play wasn’t as bad as some make it out to be. He had gotten a decent number of pressures this season, maybe they weren’t at his typical pace, but they were at an above average clip. Orakpo had also made some big plays in the running game and was decent in pass coverage.
Now taking his place will be 2nd round pick Trent Murphy. Murphy hasn’t really ever projected as a right side pass rusher, so it will be a tough assignment for the rookie to fill Orakpo’s shoes. In limited work this year, Murphy hasn’t done much to show that he was ready for a starting role, and unless he really picks it up it could end up being a major hole in this defense.
5. Running game woes continue:
-The Redskins tried to be more committed to the run in this game, but it didn’t change the outcome for the running unit. While the final number of 100 yards is okay, it took 26 carries to get to that mark for a below average 3.8 yards per carry. What’s even worse is that number is inflated due to a couple draw plays that Roy Helu had some nice gains on to boost the overall number. When the Redskins tried to actually run in normal situations they weren’t that successful. Alfred Morris managed just 54 yards on 18 carries for a very poor 3.0 ypc. The Titans had an average run defense coming in, that looks considerably better now after shutting down Morris.
Morris had a couple nice runs, but there were other times where he went down too easily or didn’t seem to get to the hole quick enough. Other factors were the run blocking, which was once again pretty bad and the play selection. The good news was the Redskins didn’t abandon the run like they had in the past, but they also weren’t creative in their run play calling in terms of down and distance and out of particular formations. It led to a fairly predictable run game that the Titans were able to key in on.
This is something the Redskins need to fix ASAP, as they can’t afford to not have a strong running game. Despite all the receiver/Tight end talent, this team needs to succeed on the ground to win football games. They aren’t a team that is going to sustain drives, and that is what is going to hurt them going forward.
6. Pass Blocking struggles continue:
-While this was mentioned in the Polumbus vs Compton item above, the struggles in pass blocking go well beyond the RT position. In fact it even goes beyond the OL position group as we’ve seen backs and tight ends miss crucial blocks as well. The end result is that a team that is very weak at rushing the passer, was able to get a couple of sacks, a couple of penalties and some key pressures as well. This has been a problem all season and it’s only going to get more exposed when RGIII returns. Griffin might be more mobile, but he also holds on to the ball longer, so the protection must even be better for him than the other QB’s. Another thing to worry about with the return of Griffin is that you probably don’t want him running around trying to escape pressure on that ankle. The Redskins have to improve their blocking this season and it won’t be an easy thing to accomplish.