Well, that was rough. The Redskins fall to 5-3 following the beat down handed to them courtesy of the surging Atlanta Falcons. To add to the misery, Washington loses Paul Richardson Jr., Brandon Scherff, and Shawn Lauvao to season-ending injuries. It was ugly all-around for so many reasons, and what once was a promising outlook to the final stretch of the season has turned into a bleak and demoralizing week heading into the Redskins game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All in all, it seems terrible now, but games still have to be played, and the Redskins must adapt to new circumstances. In the meantime, let us look at the things we learned from the game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Will the Redskins be able to keep up with anyone, at all?
The Redskins performances in wins compared to losses are night and day to each other, and it is just amazing. In each victory, the Redskins never trailed and had gotten off to fast starts in four of the five victories. However, in each of the three losses, they never had a lead, nor was the game close. The average margin of victory for the Redskins opponents are 20 points per game, they have been completely manhandled in all three losses. With the loss among the offensive line, especially pro bowlers Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, the task will be even more significant to establish the line of scrimmage and a rushing attack. Without a rushing attack and an effective Adrian Peterson, the offense is a tad worse than anemic, so whatever adjective you have in mind is exactly what they are. The Redskins defense failed to show up in two of the Redskins three losses; however, if the Redskins are unable to put up points to give this team a chance to win against more efficient offenses (i.e., Tampa Bay coming up) they will be in big trouble.
Speaking of the defense, the Redskins had a great test to show New Orleans was a fluke and failed just as bad. They are good, but not an elite unit.
Greg Manusky and his defensive staff have these guys playing well collectively, for the most part, this is the unit that gives the Redskins the best chance to win week in-and-out. However, in two outings against high powered offenses, they were thoroughly outplayed. The biggest threats to the Redskins defense coming up will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, and possibly the Houston Texans. For obvious reasons, the Redskins are reeling right now, so regardless of how they are perceived from an outsider’s perspective, they must respond against the Buccaneers if they want to save the season.
Quit the talk of “players effort” the issue in these losses are execution and coaching
Wherever you want to place the majority of the blame for losses is up to you, but other teams were just better than Washington. The effort is there, and they are not merely a lifeless team. So whether it is the fact that the Redskins struggle to move the football, defend simple route concepts, exploit a team’s defensive weaknesses, or apply more pressure on opposing offenses, the Redskins players and staff fail to get the job done. Saying that is not by any means a consolation prize for how they look when they lose, because they have to do a significantly better job. Moving forward in the season there is no doubt there should be some pressure on Jay Gruden to address the vulnerabilities on his team that has been consistently attacked by opposing teams. The task will become greater due to injuries but at this point, five years into his coaching stint, excuses have run dry, and he must get the job done.
No, it is not time to bench Alex Smith, and that time will never arrive; however, it is officially okay to hit a panic button. If you have one.
You can argue that Alex Smith had his best game as a Redskin in a 14-point offensive outing against Atlanta, but what is that saying? It says absolutely nothing. The Redskins struggled to move the ball against an Atlanta Falcons defense who was giving up 28 points per game. Overall, Alex Smith has not been good, and there has been no sense of incremental improvement as the weeks went along. To what point does the play at the quarterback position dash any chances of a playoff berth this year? With five of the remaining eight games on the road for Washington, playing in hostile environments, the Redskins will desperately need for Alex Smith to become a more efficient quarterback. It seems like a longshot, but if Alex Smith can even play to the level of a top 16 quarterback, the Redskins can find a way to finish the year with double-digit victories.