It is no secret that this season has been a let down for the Washington Redskins. After a spectacular 7-game winning streak in 2012 to win the NFC East, the Redskins have stumbled in 2013 and are 3-8 through 12 weeks of the season. Teams that have 8 losses through the first 11-weeks of a season usually have many things go horribly wrong, and the Redskins are no exception. While the Redskins were able to bounce back from adversity in 2012, the same circumstances, or ingredients, were not present this season. Like the ingredients of a souffle, many factors have led to this losing recipe for the 2013 Washington Redskins. This particular "losing soufflé" can be made with just a few simple ingredients:
-1 Cup of Quarterback Injury Concerns: The big talk this off-season for the Redskins surrounded Robert Griffin III and his knee. Is he healthy? Is he hurt? Should he start? Should he sit? All of these questions about Robert put an early stress on a team coming off a great 2012 campaign. Many still wonder if Robert Griffin III was healthy enough to play in this season. Many still speculate if he should be benched now. Regardless of what you believe about his health or playing status, a quarterback injury concern is the first ingredient for a losing recipe. Robert lost his off-season preparation, which is important to a young and developing quarterback. Opposing defenses are simply not afraid of him running this year. While Robert had some injury problems in 2012, he did not start the season injured and the team got hot down the stretch. The same has not happened this season.
-2 Cups of Bad Special Teams play: While some may not consider this to be the biggest factor of concern for the Redskins, the poor special teams play is a big piece of the losing recipe. The Redskins have struggled in all aspects of special teams. The punting has been less than spectacular, as Sav Rocca has a blocked punt on the year and quite a few bad punts. Kai Fortbath and John Potter both struggle hitting long field goals this season and having your kicker miss time is not great for the special teams unit. The Redskins have also lacked a good kick returner with Richard Crawford’s absence. Chris Thompson, Joshua Morgan and Nick Williams were all given opportunities and did not do well returning punts and kicks. Niles Paul has been the most reliable return man, and that is not a good thing. The Offense always seems to be in bad starting field position. The Special Teams also gives up huge yardage to opposing returners. They managed to make Dwayne Harris look like Deon Sanders. The lack of salary cap space may have most negatively impacted special teams. I really miss Lorenzo Alexander. Bad special teams play is a huge ingredient in the "losing soufflé" that is the 2013 Redskins. The special teams was not a problem in 2012 at all, and it really seems to make all the difference.
-7 ounces of Missed Tackles: The Redskins lead the NFL in missed tackles. Yikes. The defense has struggled to keep opposing offenses off the field. Teams like the 49ers (whose quarterback is having far more trouble than Robert Griffin III) can use their defense keep opposing offenses to low scores and win games. The best part about the 49ers defense, and all great defenses in the league, is that they keep the yards after contact low for offensive players. The Redskins defense simply cannot limit the yards after contact, because they just do not tackle. The Redskins defense was able to play well down the stretch in 2012, but the drop off of London Fletcher this season has made the tackling issue a huge problem this season.
-3 Tablespoons of Offensive Line Inconsistency: While Alfred Morris is having a monster year in terms of rushing yards, our smaller interior offensive line has been thoroughly dominated in pass blocking this season. Defensive tackles throughout the league are walking all over the interior of the offensive line. Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery are not playing especially well, but Chris Chester may be having his worst year in his career for pass blocking. The offensive line has been able to run block for Alfred, but with defenses are playing our pass game differently now. Defenses are just sending guys after Robert and putting a lot of pressure on him. Pressure rattles young quarterbacks and it takes time for young passers to develop skills in dealing with pressure. With defenses not scared of Robert running, he would have to be perfect in the passing game. While the offensive line has been rated well overall this season (some are saying top 5 offensive line in the league), they have failed to create a pocket for Robert to pass in. That does not help when everyone is demanding he become a pocket passer. The offensive line was exceptional at pass blocking in 2012, but they have not been so far this year.
-1 Teaspoon of a Tough Schedule: While this is not a huge part the losing recipe, it is still important to the overall result of the "losing soufflé." Trying to win a division with a tough 1st place schedule made things harder on this years redskins compared to the 2012 Redskins. The 2012 Redskins had a last place schedule and 5 divisional games in the last 7 weeks of the season. Whether it is tough schedule, lack of momentum, or just plain bad luck, this years Redskins group had a rougher road then the 2012 Redskins.
After baking these ingredients for 12 weeks, you have your 3-8 Washington Redskins. While this core group of Redskins players still causes for optimism, this year’s group is going nowhere fast. Maybe with some salary cap space and a full off-season for Robert Griffin III, this group of coaches and players could make another run at going to the post season. While many people believe the coaching staff will be fired at the end of the season, this group has shown that they are capable of winning. Whoever is in charge next year, they would need to address the problems with the ingredients in their current recipe. Fixing these problems could help create something we would all enjoy, a winning recipe.