The Washington Redskins entered Sunday riding last week's victory over the Saints but stumbled in St. Louis, leaving fans shocked and confused. It was one of the stranger games in recent memory; awful refereeing, another blocked punt, and an impressive Rams offense. Sadly, the list of negatives continues throughout this post. And yet, there were a few bright spots–mainly RGIII.
I won't keep you waiting:
We got better at the Quarterback position and still lost to the Rams. That wasn't supposed to be the case. As many know, last year was full of comments like, "Quarterback is the most important position on the field. A good one can put teams over the edge." And while that may be true, the Redskins aren't quiet on that edge yet. Yesterday, several other holes were either revealed or exaggerated.
Robert Griffin III was only sacked one time on the day, but the offensive line did a horrific job. He had no space or time to throw. Amazingly, he play well in spite of them. When the pocket broke down, as it did on several occasions, Griffin pulled the ball down and ran well. He actually gained 82 yards on the ground–11 more yards than Cam Newton has ever rushed for in a single game–and added two touchdowns. Of course, some of his runs were designed (like the touchdowns), but clearly not all of them.
Alfred Morris also had a decent day as well, rushing for 89 yards on 16 carries, but outside of those two ROOKIES, nobody else had a particularly "good" game. Josh Wilson might have been the closest before he left with a mild concussion. Which begs the question: what is a "mild" concussion? Sounds dangerous. By DeAngelo Hall's account, Wilson laid unconscious for a moment…. His status is unknown for next week.
Back to the refs. The NFL is proving that they don't care about short term game quality and this game was a perfect example of that. The referees weren't struggling to make the quick paced, boom-boom, plays we somewhat expected. They don't even know the rules! This was obvious by half time. The game got out of control both physically and mentally.
That said, it doesn't excuse a loss or the way Josh Morgan handled himself at the end of the game. As I'm sure you're aware by now, Morgan cost a chance at overtime with a bone-head unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Instead of a first down in field goal range, the Redskins were forced (but not really) to take attempt a 62 yard field goal.
I still believe–as I did before the play–that the Redskins had a better shot at converting the 4th and 16 than Billy Cundiff making a near record setting kick. What was Mike Shanahan thinking? And what part does special teams coach Danny Smith play in it? Let's not even talk about Danny.
Screw it. Let's talk about Danny Smith a little. He's widely acclaimed to be one of the best special teams coaches in the league but you wouldn't know it from the last two years. Outside of kick protections, we've seen inconsistent accuracy from kickers and far too many blocks (punts and field goal attempts). The Redskins have now had a punt blocked in consecutive games. No surprise, both lead to points. And Sunday's three points turned out to be very crucial.
And while we're grilling the coaches, let us not forget Jim Hasslet. Maybe he thought they could get pressure from the front four all day and play a zone effectively? Whatever it was that he was thinking, didn't work. And he probably should have dropped it sooner. After playing man on every snap last week–and doing so in impressive fashion–Hasslet completely abandoned it, leaving everybody confused and cringing.
So while RGIII exudes the essence of hope, this game provides good insights into how far along the Redskins really are.
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