Question: What is the only thing worse than getting your teeth kicked in by a superior opponent?
Answer: Having that team toy with you for an entire half before putting their foot on your throat.
This is what happened to the Washington Redskins in their Sunday afternoon game against Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos. The superior team won the game, but not after toying with the emotions of the Redskins and their dedicated fans. To say this was an emotional loss is the understatement of the season.
If any positive can come out of this loss, we must admit we can now recognize areas of offensive vulnerability on this team(we already know of the many defensive problems)that we possibly had just turned a blind eye towards in previous weeks. The reality of the team being able to mask its many flaws against inferior competition was not present against a team as good as the Broncos. Denver game-planned against our limited strengths, and many weaknesses and exposed the holes of a decade long string of incompetence form both the front office and the coaching carousel that has been a part of the culture in our Nations Capital, and just like the presidential term of office, the Redskins leadership may again be subject to change do to "Incopentence-Gate" being exposed.
What went wrong:
Offensive Line: The play of our offensive line(with the exception of Trent Williams)has been poor this season. The issues were magnified against Denver on Sunday, as the Broncos did exactly what every other team has done to the Redskins this season; blitz us up the middle. The major weakness of our line is at center and guard. Teams are taking advantage of the success other teams have had, by running inside stunts, including Green Dogs and Cross Dogs which push extra defenders into the A-Gap, and cause immediate pressure into the face of Robert Griffin. The issue at hand is that the Redskins line has yet to find a way to stop this pressure. We have resulted to holding, false-starting, and subjecting our quarterback to unnecessary hits - all of which are not positive. We have yet to find an answer to the pressure teams are throwing our way.
Another issue is our inability to run to the right side of our formations. We are incredibly lopsided when it comes to where we gain our yards in the running game. We can pound the football off-tackle as long as it is behind Trent Williams. We can run stretch and toss as long as it is behind Trent Williams. If we run to the right, it seems to get immediately blown up. This puts a lot of pressure on the Shanahan's when they are limited to where and when they can call plays.
Solution - There may not be an immediate solution to the woes that plague our offensive line, but placing Montgomery, Lichtensteiger, and Polumbus on the bench, and handing over starting jobs to second year players Gettis, Compton and LeRibeus could be a start. These players can't perform much worse than their veteran counterparts, and it allows the staff to evaluate these young players to see if they are the answer for the future. If they fail miserably, it at least gives the staff(either current or a possible new one)a direction in which to proceed this coming off-season.
Free agency and the draft could bring in new players on the offensive line who are more capable of opening up running lanes, and keeping our quarterback upright, if the young players fail, or are not ready just yet.
Wide Receivers: There is no doubt that this unit is one of the worst in the entire NFL. Be it dropped passes, inability to get separation, or just simple lack of effort, this group is an embarrassment. Santana Moss is a shell of his former self. People raved about his performance last season, and how he came up clutch for our rookie quarterback, but was that an abboration. Take away the touchdowns from 2012, and Moss was pedestrian at best. Now, he's a liability. He dropped an easy touchdown early in the game, then pulled a disappearing act for the rest of the game. Josh Morgan belongs on a Semi-pro team. He is a big waste of money, and I'm sure the coaches and fans alike can't wait to get his contract off the books in 2014. And then there is Leonard Hankerson...................oh, where to begin. You would THINK a kid who is 6'2" and well north of 200 pounds would be a great target for a developing quarterback. Well, you thought wrong. Hankerson's best trait plays much better in a Vegas magic show, than on an NFL field, as he disappears more frequently than a David Copperfield prop. The only player outside of Garcon who I feel has a tad bit of potential is Aldrick Robinson, but he too has been a major disappointment with his dropped passes. At least he is not afraid to go over the middle.
Solution - I see no short-term solution in sight. We have no one on this team who can step up and produce at wide receiver. We can give Lance Lewis a shot(heck, I don't know why we haven't yet), or maybe bring in Nick Williams and try him in the "Wes Welker" role, but I don't think either of these players are the long-term answer. There is the idea of trading for a player like Nicks or Gordon, but we have limited draft picks as it is, and doing so would hamstring us in the 2014 NFL Draft. On option is to scour the waiver wire, or other teams practice squads to see if we could find a hidden gem, but that probability is highly unlikely.
Our best bet is to use the draft and free agency to find a difference maker this team has been lacking for years. Allen Robinson from Penn State and Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt are two big-bodied receivers who could be options in the draft. Free agency options could include Kenny Britt, Nicks, and Brandon LaFell.
Coaching: Much of the offensive woes can, and need to be pinned on the coaching staff. First, it was the staff that neglected to address the obvious holes this offseason. We chose to enter the season with a receiving corps consisting of has-beens, and never-will-be's, then we scratch our heads wondering why we can't locate an open receiver. Hey dip shits, here's an idea - MAYBE you need to surround your franchise QB with some weapons! The same can be said about the offensive line. Even Helen Keller could "see" this offensive line stinks. As far as I know, we have coaches with two working eyes. Why can't they see what we see? Also, on the subject of play calling, why the heck are we sending just two receivers out in play-action packages? Is it because we need to keep others in to block, or just because we have no other options? Either way, the fans will never get a true answer to this question, as the master of deception Mike Shanahan will pull out every trick in the book to protect his baby boy Kyle.
Solution: Go to the nearest Bingo hall, and find an out-of-work former offensive coordinator, and bring him back at $1.2 million/year to call plays.
So, what should the Redskins do moving forward to improve this football team?