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Grade the Redskins Loss to the Eagles

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There was obviously some good and some bad.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins hung around with most people's favorite to win the NFCE Philadelphia Eagles, but in the end, they came up just short and lost by three points, 37-34.  Obviously winning is all that matters and moral victories don't go very far, but I'd say the team performed better than most were expecting.  There were certainly things to build off of in that game moving forward and there were obvious pros and cons.  I want to know what you all think about the team's performance in Philly.  Certainly not all losses are the same.  Here's my opinion on the whole thing and then you all can leave your grade/opinion in the comments section at the bottom.

Pros:

Kirk Cousins

Wow!  I think most reasonable followers of this team thought that the current level of play from Kirk Cousins wouldn't be much of a drop-off from RGIII if any drop-off at all.  But I think very few people expected this kind of output.  Kirk exceeded expectations and led an offense that put up 34 points and 500+ yards.  When a team in the NFL scores 34+ points, they usually win.  Kirk threw three TD's and orchestrated a number of beautiful drives.  We do have to point out the bad INT as well as not really coming through on the final drive when the team really needed it, but even including that, you'd take this kind of day from your QB every single game and be thrilled.

Pass Protection

Big shout out to the big boys up front for protecting and not giving up a single sack.  Kirk would be able to wear his same jersey again next week without washing it if it wasn't for a little sweat and that one green spot where he was illegally thrown to the ground after a flag/whistle.  Trent had a good game, Kory stepped up with multiple injuries and was a warrior, and Tyler Polumbus had a pretty good game, too.  Looks like will probably be without Shawn Lauvao this week against NYG and it's good to see that Josh LeRibeus came in and performed capably during the last game.

Wide Receivers

DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both deserve game balls even though we lost, because it sure as hell didn't have a thing to do with their work during the game.  Garcon tied a career high with 11 balls caught and DeSean fought through a painful shoulder sprain and still burned his old team... big time.  Both guys went well over 100 yards, both caught TD's, and really, it was the kind of performance that the Redskins don't get from multiple WR's in the same game but for once every few years.  We are stacked at the WR position.

Darrel Young

This isn't only for this game, but Young deserves credit for this whole season so far.  The guy can do it all and do it all he has.  Swiss army knife.  Greatest FB in the league.  He can catch, run, score, block, you name it...

Run Defense

That team has LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.  Stop and think about the problems that causes for a minute.  Think about what they did in week two to the Colts, just those two guys alone.  Think of how worried (it's OK, the game's over, you can admit it) you were about specifically those two guys coming into this game.  We shut 'em down.  Sproles escaped for a couple big plays, but McCoy had one of his worst games as a pro and we should be incredibly proud of our run defense and their ability to shut-down perhaps the best RB in the league on one of the top offenses there is.  And with no Cofield to boot...  Big time run defense and it's very encouraging moving forward.

Andre Roberts

The punt returner and the WR.  The guy was an incredible pick-up.  He is the shining light of our ST's (along with Tress Way) and he's a great WR.  Any team would be fine with him being one of your starting WR's, but we're blessed to have him as our #3 and get to use his PR abilities.  It's a coup for this team.

Cons:

Run Game

Morris got his touches and was effective in grinding out yards he shouldn't have gotten, but overall, our run game didn't dominate the way we're accustomed to.  Some of that credit has to go to the Eagles who were clearly focused on stopping it.  We should also point out that the passing game was working so well, that it made sense to throw a little bit more than we ran, especially with the run game being bottled up so well.  Maybe not to the discrepancy we saw, but still a little more passing made sense given what was be successful (I mean, we scored 34 points!).  It's most likely a blip on the radar and I expect to see the stretch zone being run by Al-Mo all up and down the Giants on Thursday.

Penalties

Same as last week.  We're beating ourselves with the penalties and were the most penalized team in the league this past week.  The defense and ST's are largely to blame for a majority of those.  It can't happen and must be worked on by the coaches.  We're one of the most penalized teams in the league and that looks like either a lack of discipline, lack of focus, or both.

Challenges

Gruden and staff aren't off to a very good start with the challenges.  I'll let it slide for now as we're dealing with a first-time HC, but they have to work on getting better on when the right times to use that red flag are.  Timeouts are valuable.

Special Teams

Here's the one everyone's been talking about.  Y'all are probably a little surprised it wasn't the first thing written under "Cons."  Some explanation is required.  First off, Kai Forbath is a damn good FG kicker.  The guy is a little hurt right now, but he makes 87% over his career and you'll be hard-pressed to find someone available who's better.  That said, 30-some yard kicks have to be automatic.  That's expected of an NFL kicker and Kai messed that up and it turns out it could have been the difference as we lost by three.  You can't allow it to continue, but he had made 18 straight before that, so you have to let one slide.  No kicker can make them all.  It was just an inopportune time.

The bigger issue is on kickoffs.  Tress Way is doing an admirable job filling in for Kai on KO's, but he's clearly not cut out for it on an NFL level.  The kicks go fairly far, but the hang-time is very poor.  That's partially to blame for the blown TD.  The other part is on the coverage unit.  You cannot give up a TD on a kick return.  The NFL is on your side trying to help by moving up these kicks and trying to eliminate the whole thing and we're still giving up TD's.  That's unacceptable and I hope Kotwica is hearing about it and then I hope he's making all those players hear about it.  You stay in your lane no matter what.  I'm not sure what needs to be done to help this whether someone is brought it to actually KO better than Way or whether Kotwica is going to get his guys together and have them stopping back-up RB's on their way to the endzone regardless of who's kicking off.  Something has to happen.

Pass Defense

Atrocious.  It really way.  And I hate to say that.  But everyone from Nick Foles, to Jeremy Maclin, to the rookie Jordan Matthews owned us via the air.  What's more is we applied very little to no pressure on the QB.  This was a team with backups of backups starting on their OL and one of the lesser WR corps. in the league.  10 sacks last week and couldn't manage one against the Eagles?!  We're going to have to do better.  This defense is built on getting to the QB and our below-average secondary relies on it.  No pressure, no diamonds.  Or maybe it's no pressure, no defense in our case...

Brandon Meriweather

Obviously, not good enough.  I think he'll do better.  Can't have another outing like that, though.

Injuries

We lost DeAngelo Hall for the year.  That is HUGE.  He's the captain of our defense and perhaps the best player we have in our secondary and he's not coming back.  Due to his absence, we'll now have to rely on a fourth-round rookie.  Breeland looks promising, but he's not on Hall's level yet.  Simple as that.  We also lost Duke Ihenacho for the year.  How we barely knew ye, Duke.  Shawn Lauvao got hurt along the OL.  Jason Hatcher, prized FA and huge cog in our pass rush, got hurt.  Alfred Morris got banged up and that may or may not have contributed to his below-average outing and/or the lack of runs in the second half.  DeSean Jackson sure as hell must still be sore, especially after some typical Eagles cheap shots.  Orakpo's hand is all messed up and that's probably going to affect him negatively going forward.  It was just a brutal day for injuries.  Kory Lichtensteiger has like three different ones.  We need some health and good luck and we need it ASAP.

Self-Control/Discipline

The whole cheap shots/fighting thing just can't happen.  There's really no place for it.  I love the high energy and sticking up for your teammates as much as the next guy, but not to the point you hurt your team.  Obviously, it's the Eagles.  We all know what that means and it makes it a little more expected, but it's important in the future that our guys keep their cool.  These fights can lead to injuries, ejections, and/or suspensions.  With our situation right now at 1-2 with just about everyone hurt, we really can't afford it.  I do get riled up going after those Eagles, though!

Final Grade: C

The pros and cons feel about even after this one and the scoreboard was about as close to even as you could get, too.  We lost and that hurts the grade.  However, we went against a team that basically everyone agrees is better than we are and we went against them in their house.  And we only lost by three.  That's about as big a moral victory as you'll get.  It doesn't count in the W/L column, but it's a real thing, and it matters.  Our team can hang with anyone, fellas.  We're not that 3-13 thing from last year.  We're a legit team heading in the right direction.  We lost.  It sucks.  We almost won.  But we've proved some things and we have a lot to pull from going forward.  Our offense is great.  Our defense is good.  Our ST's needs some help.  All that equals a C in my book.  It's about as good as you can look in a loss.  We just have to stop beating ourselves, because we're outplaying these teams and just losing.  There's potential there.  We absolutely have to get healthy, though!  Big ups to Gruden and Allen for taking a dumpster fire of a team from last year and building just about as good a depth as you could get in one offseason.  Haven't heard anyone calling for Allen's head lately...  I can't wait to torch the Giants and even this whole thing up at 2-2!