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Redskins Analysis - No Need for "Doom and Gloom"

There is no need for Doom and Gloom after a loss to the Steelers.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so the Redskins lost to one of the best teams in the AFC at home...guess what, it happens. The Steelers have one of the NFL's best, and most experienced quarterbacks, in Big Ben. They have the best receiver in the league in Antonio Brown. They boast one of the league's best centers in Pouncy, and one of the best young guards in DeCastro. Sure, their defense is no "Steel Curtain", but they are not without talent. Ryan Shazier is an absolute beast at middle linebacker. James Harrison can still play. Their secondary is weak, but the coaches covered for that by playing a heavy dose of zone coverage.

We got beat by a very good team.

So why all the "doom and gloom"?

This Redskins team is not the teams we saw at the turn of the 21st century. This is not some Steve Spurrier run, bingo-hall offense. Our squad is talented. Our squad is resilient. Our squad has a solid locker room led by a core group of leaders. Our squad is beginning to take on the mantra of our new GM - Big, Strong and Nasty!

Kirk Cousins is not a bad quarterback. He didn't play his best game against the Steelers on Monday night, but that doesn't mean he's regressing. He came out a bit over-excited, and this was seen in some of his early throws. He was trying to aim the football instead of just throwing it. He had some early plays where it just looked like he was not on the same page as his wide receivers - it happens. He was still able to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers - Jackson and Reed, and they were able to make some plays. Kirk will be fine, and I expect a bounce-back this Sunday against the Cowboys.

The offensive line is not as bad as we make them out to be. Sure Kory Lichtensteiger is still a liability at center, and will continue to be so, but point to an offensive line in the NFL that does not have at least one weakness. The Cowboys, whom many consider to have the best young offensive line in the NFL, have Doug Free, who is average at best. Moving on from center, I feel Shawn Lauvao will get better with each game he plays. He missed 14 games last season, and obviously has some rust to shake off, but he's an above average guard who can open up lanes in the run game. Trent Williams didn't have a great game against Pitt, but that is the exception, not the norm for the Pro Bowl left tackle. This line has talent, size, strength and youth. We will be ok!

The running game, albeit as poor as it looked Monday night, was just not given the chances to be successful. You can't develop any rhythm on just 12 carries, and you can't continue to run the ball consistently when you are being controlled in the entire second quarter and early third quarter, in time of possession. When you get down against a quality team like the Steelers, it almost forces your hand to pass, in order to attempt to get back into the game. Many are concerned with Matt Jones as our unquestioned starter. Well, I am a bit concerned too, but we can't let panic set in after just one game. If the same thing is happening three weeks from now...we make a change.

The defensive line was horrible against the Steelers; there is no hiding that. Aside from Chris Baker, no one was getting any type of consistent push on the pocket. Guys were getting sealed in the run game, and were unable to fight of blocks. This is a major area for concern. To make matters worse, the linebackers were getting blocked at the second level, and were unable to make plays at or near the line of scrimmage.

All is not lost however on defense up front. More four man fronts could help this unit become more productive. First, it could help occupy more blockers, and free up the backers to make some plays. Second, it could help the defensive linemen to play positions that are a bit more comfortable to them. Baker, Hood and RJF are quick penetrators. An even front would play to their strengths, and also help keep the rotation fresh. Finally, the signing of Jenkins could add a new wrinkle, as he has excelled as a 3 and 5 technique defensive tackle, and could provide some fresh legs on passing downs.

In the secondary, Bashaud Breeland is not as bad as he looked Monday night. He was asked to match up one-on-one against the best receiver in football. Breeland did one thing wrong - he failed to make plays on the football in coverage. Make no mistake, on all but one occasion, Breeland was in good position. It wasn't like he missed his assignment, or just got flat out burnt - he just failed to make plays. I'm confident, that when put into that position again, Bashaud makes the players to at least knock the ball down 8 out of 10 times. As for his shoddy run defense...well, he just needs to work harder on that.

Keeping with the secondary theme, we have some quality players on the back end. Hall looks to be a very solid free safety. He will come up and make plays, and although we didn't see him on deep help much, it was more because of scheme than his inability to do so. Norman is a stud, and he will get his. He's going to make plays, as was evident Monday night. Strong safety is a concern right now, but we have the chess pieces to make it work. We just nee to find the right combination, and if that means benching Bruton in favor of Ihenacho, so be it.

This is not all doom and gloom. This is a good football teams searching for its identity early on. We may not become a smash-mouth, wear you down, grind it out squad. We may be more like the Patriots, with a quick, efficient passing game that utilizes our tight ends, and exploits defenses with crossing routes, rubs and the occasional big shot downfield. However we end up, we have to trust that the coaches know our team's strengths better than we do, and will do their best to continue to put us in situations to succeed.

If if there is one thing I know in football, it's that you're never as good as you think you are, and you're never as bad as you may look. Teams tend to get better, not worse, as the season goes on, and this should be the case for our Redskins.

Redskins - find your identity, work that identity, and go out and beat the Cowboys!