I’m a little late with my thoughts on the Redskins loss to the Rams, but a loss really doesn’t motivate me to want to write. I must preface this blog by saying that while I did watch the game, I didn’t pay as good of attention as I could or should have. As you may or may not know, I bought a PS3 recently so I could get the NFL Sunday Ticket (I don’t have nor can I get DirecTV) and watch the Redskins from the privacy of my own home and not be surrounded by a bunch of drunk obnoxious fans of other teams. For reasons unknown to everyone outside of Sony, I was unable to purchase Sunday Ticket. They did not want to take my money. I decided to go to my local Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game. By the time I got there the place was packed and I resigned myself to going back home and missing the game. As I was driving home, I remembered that there was a Hooters nearby and headed there. I was able to get a seat at the bar, but the game, at first was on the TV directly behind me and all the way across the place. They eventually put the game on a TV I could easily watch, but I’ll admit, I had a hard time concentrating with all the Jets, Steelers and Cowboys fans yelling and screaming.
After listening to all the pundits and reading a bunch of different things on line, it seems that everyone has their own reason as to why the Redskins lost to the Rams 31-28. Some of the reasons include: replacement refs, special teams, injuries, poor defense and of course Josh Morgan. Let me address some of these issues. Both teams played with the same set of refs. Calls were missed throughout the game for both sides. It probably all evens out. If Redskins fans are going to be upset about a missed call, it should be the one missed on Chris Long for taunting after Josh Morgan’s boneheaded penalty. That would have negated the 15 yards on Morgan and left Cundiff with a 47 yard FG attempt instead of 62. Still no guarantee he’d make it, but I would have liked his chances.
The only thing special about the Redskins’ special teams is that they should be riding the short bus. After having 5 kicks blocked last season, one would think that Danny Smith and the rest of the coaching staff would have made it a priority to ensure that there were no blocked kicks this season. That apparently was not the case. Last week the Redskins had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and this week had another blocked that gave the Rams the ball at the Redskins’ 24 yard line. Four plays later the Rams scored a touchdown and converted a 2 point conversion for what turned out to be the winning score.
The Redskins suffered two devastating injuries on Sunday. Brian Orakpo tore his pectoral muscle and Adam Carriker tore a quad tendon. Both are out for the season. I do not want to reduce what these two players mean to the defense, but they were out for most of the game. The Redskins did not lose this game because they were injured. They may lose some games because they’re done for the season, but we’ll never fully know.
The defense is not good. There’s no other way to put it. The Rams had 23 first downs, were 7-12 converting third downs, had 452 total yards and scored 31 points. That is not good. If you look at the first two games, the Redskins defense has given up 627 yards passing (2nd worst in the league), 6 receiving TDs (worst in league), 810 total yards (5th worst), 31.5 points per game (6th worst) and have had 19 penalties called against them (2nd most) for 167 yards (most in league) all while being on the field for an average of 26 minutes a game (6th lowest in the league). What does this mean? It means that the Redskins defense gives up more per minute than just about every other defense. Can’t expect to win games like that. Also, anytime you have one WR catch 15 passes against you in a single game, you’re doing something wrong. Lastly, the Redskins lead 21-6 with 6:19 left in the second quarter. I know that’s still relatively early in the game, but they proceeded to give up 17 straight points. You can’t win games playing like that.
The biggest finger was pointed at Josh Morgan. After making a 7 yard catch and being just short of a first down, he got frustrated at a defender and threw the ball at him drawing a 15 yard penalty. The end result was the Redskins trying a 62 yard FG instead of a 47 yard one. Someone must have forgotten to tell the team they got rid of David Akers years ago, but I digress.
These are all valid excuses as to why the Redskins lost, but they’re not the reasons. I don’t think it’s any secret of my hated of the Shanahans as coaches and Sunday’s game showed why. Papa Shanahan has been called a genius and his kid is supposed to be some boy wonder when it comes to offense. I beg to differ. There are three plays that sum up why this team lost. The first play came towards the end of the first half. The Redskins had the ball in their own end with less than 2 minutes after the Rams scored their first touchdown. They had first down on their own 36 when Griffin threw an interception. It’s a pass that should have never been thrown, but he’s a rookie and you almost expect him to try and make that throw. If he doesn’t throw that pick, the worst that happens is the Redskins run out the clock and go into halftime leading 21-13. You can not turn the ball over in your own end at the end of a half. Griffin’s INT led to the second play that cost the Skins the game. The Rams, after starting at the Redskins 40 yard line, had gotten the ball to the Skins’ 24 with :07 left in the half. The trotted their FG unit out onto the field to attempt a 42 yard FG. The kick was up and it was no good. That’s great, Griffin’s interception didn’t hurt the team. Wait, what? Shanahan had called a timeout? Why? He wanted to ice the kicker? Doesn’t look he needed to do that because the kick was missed. Oh well, let’s give him another shot. Of course, the Rams make the second and now trail 21-16. I remember saying out loud at the bar, “Better hope that doesn’t come back to haunt the team.” Calling a timeout to ice the kicker is the most overrated and overused coaching move in football. The third play was the Redskins’ final play of the game. I get that everyone was upset about Morgan’s penalty, but isn’t there a reason you drafted Griffin as your franchise quartback? He makes plays, right? Are you telling me that Cundiff, whose longest FG is 56 yards and happened 7 years ago, had a better shot at hitting a 62 yard one than Griffin did at picking up 16 yards? Either the coaches were delusional about Cundiff’s ability or they didn’t have enough confidence in their Heisman Trophy winning franchise quarterback. Either way it doesn’t give me much confidence as a fan.
It’s easy to nitpick when your team loses by 3 points, but the Redskins should have been in the position they were in at the end of the game. I listed three plays that I thought changed the game and two of them were coach related. The third was on Griffin and I’m not going to blame him for the play (only because he’s a rookie) or for the loss. I could have added a fourth play, the blocked punt, as to why the Redskins lost. That’s another one on the coaches. If you have one kick blocked, that could be on a player, but if you have punts blocked in consecutive games, that goes on the coaches.
The Redskins get Cincinnati at home and after seeing how bad the Redskins’ defense is and the show that Andy Dalton put on for the Bengals this week, I’m not overly confident of the Skins’ chances. Before the season, i would have thought this was a game they should win, but for now, I’ll just say that they can win it, but it’s far from guaranteed.