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Sleeping in after TNF: I don’t like losing, but I can live with it if the players look like professionals doing their jobs

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.


Winning is better than losing.

Losing is not fun.

But I don’t mind watching the Redskins lose so much if I see them playing like professionals, not shooting themselves in the foot, and putting forth 60 minutes of effort.

This kind of professional play from the Redskins has been notably lacking at times in recent seasons — the past two Week-17 efforts (against the Giants in 2017 and the Eagles in 2018) stand out in my mind as cases in point.

The first games played so far in this 2019 season strike me as having been inconsistent efforts at best — especially the first 4 games. The Redskins played well for 30 or 40 minutes in some games, but completely collapsed in the other 20 to 30 minutes, letting games spiral out of control due to sloppy play and too many mistakes.

The first two games against the Eagles and Cowboys were flag festivals, with the Redskins being penalized twelve times in each game.

Losses to the Bears and Giants in Weeks 3 & 4 were marred by offensive turnovers — eight of them in two games, if I remember correctly.

The first time I felt a sense of something other than embarrassment this regular season was the game against the Patriots. I thought the team showed a spark of life, but that they eventually succumbed to the best team in football. Having watched three or four other Patriots games this season, I feel like the final score of our Week 5 doesn’t reflect the level to which Washington competed in that game. The Redskins’ 7-point total might look like capitulation — until you realize that the New England Patriots have allowed only 3 offensive touchdowns to their opponents in seven games this season.

The Week 6 & 7 games get asterisks — the first because it was a win against the Dolphins, and the second because of the weather conditions. It’s hard to complain about a win, and the NIners game showed a lot of heart from the Redskins, despite the shutout.

The Vikings game on Thursday night also showed some heart and grit, in my opinion (though not enough). This week, the Redskins faced two explosive offenses — one in the mud and one in the dome — and gave up a total of 26 points. I’m feeling as if the Redskins defense is actually playing better and better from week to week.

Unfortunately, the offense has struggled mightily this season, but, of course, they’ve faced the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th ranked defenses (by total points) in 5 of their 8 games. Next week, they have the Bills, who are currently ranked #3, meaning that, by the time the Skins reach the bye week, they will have faced 5 of the top 6, and 6 of the top 8 defenses in the NFL. They still have #9, Carolina, and another game against the Cowboys, meaning that half of this season’s games will come against defenses currently ranked in the top-9 by total points allowed.

The Redskins were competitive with the Niners until AD lost a fumble with 1:29 left in the third quarter. In many ways, the Redskins played better against the Vikings. First of all, they were on the road, and playing on a short week after a physically and emotionally demanding game on Sunday. The Vikings have been hot, putting up 28, 38, and 42 points in the past three games. Kirk Cousins had been, statistically, the best quarterback in the league in that 3-game stretch.

In the face of all this recent offense by the Vikings, the Redskins limited them to 19 points and held Cousins to 285 passing yards and no touchdowns. Of course, the Vikings took their foot off the gas in the final two minutes, electing to turn the ball over on downs rather than add points to the scoreboard with time winding down.

The Redskins struggled offensively, but they put together offensive drives of 13 plays and 11 plays in the first half against the Vikings, who currently rank #5 in yards per game allowed. Losing Case Keenum at halftime meant that the team had to try to rally behind rookie Dwayne Haskins. Keenum, of course, had the advantage of having practiced against the Vikings defense for the entire 2017 season, and Haskins, raw as he is, was not really ready to face the Vikings. His interception, thrown deep in Vikings territory with just about 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and the Redskins trailing by 7 points, really marked the end of things for Washington.

With a healthy Keenum in the second half, who knows what the Redskins might’ve accomplished? Without him, though, the Redskins didn’t have the talent and experience at quarterback needed to take the lead.

The Redskins had their best week of the season with regards to penalties on Thursday, with only 4 accepted penalties for 46 yards.

I’m not trying to put lipstick on a pig, here. The Redskins lost; the Vikings won. Washington wasn’t good enough, and they need to get better.

But I wasn’t cringing as I watched the game — and I cringed a lot in the first 4 weeks.

Case had an ugly turnover in the first half, but the defense held and forced a field goal. Haskins had a bad interception near the end of the 3rd quarter, but the defense held and forced a field goal.

The team didn’t quit. They went on the road, and, despite losing the starting quarterback, a starting cornerback, and being forced to play the #5 safety on the depth chart and a tight end who only joined the team two weeks ago, basically went the distance with one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment.

The Redskins offense, in particular, needs to play better — those two turnovers by Case and Dwayne were killers, and the inability to punch the ball in from the red zone is troubling — but, despite having only one win this season, I don’t see players quitting. I see the team losing, but I don’t see a roster falling apart.

On the contrary, I think that the Redskins are looking better from week to week. I think they showed some signs of life against the Patriots. They got the win against the Dolphins. They played hard in ugly weather conditions on Sunday and went on the road and played competently in prime time on Thursday night...and that’s a something that’s rare enough to merit comment.

It’s all too little and too late, but the team is competing. They are not embarrassing themselves. At the moment, that’s all I can ask for.

Poll

After two losses in 4 days (Sunday vs. Niner, and Thursday night @ Vikings), how would you describe how you feel about the Redskins versus Friday last week following the win against the Dolphins?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    better, actually
    (228 votes)
  • 29%
    about the same
    (186 votes)
  • 3%
    worse
    (22 votes)
  • 30%
    I’ve given up all hope
    (195 votes)
631 votes total Vote Now