A banged up Redskins team traveled all the way out to Arizona and got beat by a banged up Arizona Cardinals team. All week we wondered which Cardinal QB we'd face and in typical Redskin fashion, we got a healthy Carson Palmer. It was a tale of Kirk Cousins keep us in the game (with excellent play from DeSean Jackson) until he took us out of it. Many around here (myself included) inexplicably expected the Redskins to win or at least have a very good chance against a team that was 3-1 and playing at home. I'm not sure why, and the Cardinals proved us delusional. There were a lot of positives to take away, especially in the first three quarters, but the final stanza really doomed us. We've all tried to remain positive through this losing streak, but even Jay Gruden seems to be feeling a little worn down by it and at 1-5, it's really difficult to see the positive in this season anymore... already. Still, we must remember we were a terrible team last year and have a new coaching staff and many injuries. We're in the process of building from where we ended last year and everyone should have known there'd be plenty of "L"s to come along with that. Are we progressing?
DeSean Jackson has been the brightest of bright spots for our team this year, showing off that patented speed/deep threat ability and the ability to change the course of a series and break a game wide open. He lacks in the blocking department, but his HR ability gives us a chance to get right back in any game faster than a NY minute. This week it was a simple slant route in which we took a perfectly placed ball from Kirk Cousins just passed a smothering Patrick Peterson over 60 yards to the house. He followed that up with another 50+ yard gallop only to be tripped up before crossing the goal-line (we had to settle for a FG). Kirk seems to have great chemistry with the guy and he's basically been our offense of late.
It's wonderful being a Redskins fan when Jordan Reed is on the field. When healthy, he's a rare and unique talent as a pass-catching TE. The guy has speed, moves, agility, route-running, hands... the whole package. After missing most of the season with a hamstring injury, Reed stepped back into the lineup against Arizona and proceeded to be a featured player in Jay Gruden's offense. He caught everything, or so it seemed. He has a unique talent for getting open with a grace not commonly found in men of his size. When he's healthy, our offense is much better.
If you didn't know Trent was dealing with knee trouble from reading about it, you wouldn't be able to tell from his play on the field. He's been a warrior these past couple games and it continued this past Sunday. From providing a clean pocket for Kirk Cousins, to sealing an edge in the run game, to getting up the field and pancaking some poor unsuspecting defender on a screen play, he's got a combination of strength, athleticism, and size that you just don't find. Add onto that that he's tough as nails and a great leader for our offense and you have a cornerstone for this franchise. I know our team has been bad, but we're lucky to have this guy on our side and get to watch him do work for the burgundy and gold as his career unfolds.
The Whole Entire FG/P/Kicking Unit (Can't Quite Say ST's as a Whole, Yet)
Kai Forbath has been excellent on FG's and KO's. Tress Way has been awesome holding for kicks and punting. And both have had excellent protection lately. This is a noticeable improvement in what was perhaps the weakest part of this team earlier in the season. The coverage and return units still need to improve, but it's huge when you can rely on your kicking and punting games. We were getting touchbacks! It's the little things for Redskins fans...
Penalties (or Lack Thereof)
We're winning the penalty battle the last couple weeks and that's not something we could say earlier in the season. It's kept us in our last couple games and it's a sign of improvement and makes me think our coaching staff is getting something right. I like the general discipline on penalties lately and it continued against Arizona.
Fourth Quarter Kirk Cousins
He was doing so good up until that point... and then the wheels came off. The INT's have been unbearable. They really are killer. It's brutal when you think we have multiple chances, even after the first INT or two, and then another one happens. They're very hard to explain and it doesn't feel right to put all the blame on Kirk. Still, even he admitted that the three at the end of this game were all basically his fault. He was pressured, but nothing too crazy and the throws were either just really off the mark or he simply didn't even see a defender. It's basically impossible to win when quarter like that (or the second half against the Giants happen).
It's concerning at this point. The blocking's not there. The carries aren't there. Defenses are taking it away and one of our greatest weapons has been neutralized. It's very difficult to explain. On the one hand, we're not running the ball a whole lot. Does that cause our run game to suffer? Or are we not running a whole lot because our run game is suffering. Decide amongst yourselves. As for me, I'm not entirely sure, yet. I know one thing, though. We absolutely have to fix it because with Kirk Cousins and the OL as currently constructed, we cannot win without it.
I don't want to simply say "defense" because we limited the Cardinals yardage fairly well and because the defense stopped the Cardinals and gave our offense repeated chances in the latter half of the game to make plays. Still though, where are the sacks? Where are the INT's? Where's the pressure? We're getting none of it. Our defense is about as bland as can be right now and certainly, some of that has to go to Jim Haslett. At this point, we're decimated with injuries and lack some serious talent in the secondary, but we just have to try some crazy stuff and see what happens because it really isn't going to get any worse and we're not winning, anyway. Orakpo needs a sack or two. Where's our secondary? Can anyone get a pick? How about a strip? A sack-fumble? Anything. We need something to spark this team.
Come on, man.
Final Grade: D
We were in this one. We had a real chance and there for a while, I thought we might take it. We keep finding ways to lose. I know everyone keeps hearing that all the time, but think about it. It makes perfect sense and is the truth. The Cardinals didn't beat us that game. We beat ourselves. Just when you think we're out of it, we have another chance. And another. And another. And somehow we continue to squander those opportunities. The turnovers are the story for me. We simply can't afford them. It was shocking to watch Kirk go out there in the fourth quarter and throw darts directly to Cardinals players. Shocking.
The Cardinals are a decent team, but they were as banged up, if not more so, than we were. Carson Palmer wasn't 100% and has missed multiple weeks now with a shoulder/nerve issue. He looked incredibly comfortable out there. That's a problem, especially when our defense's strength is touted as the front seven and rushing the passer.
We have about as favorable an opponent as we can get coming up this week in the Titans and they're coming to FedEx (yes, they think we're an incredibly favorable match-up, too). We have to start somewhere. We're at the bottom now. It's time to show some growth. It's time for a win and to get this thing going in the right direction. I'm not talking about winning out. I'm talking about not beating ourselves and playing respectably. I'm talking about winning home games against teams like the Titans. I don't think this roster can be great, but I do think they can be better than they've shown over this 1-5 start. Let's get to 2-5, build a little confidence, and move forward. We deserve it.