CARSON, CA—Here are five observations from the Redskins' disappointing loss to the Chargers.
If you can’t overcome adversity, this is what happens: The last two weeks the Redskins have faced some tough times. And instead of responding by fighting back against the Cowboys last week and the Chargers today, they have folded. Teams in the NFL are pretty even in terms of talent. Most will go through bad stretches at some point during a given game. It’s how you respond to the challenges when they arise that often makes the difference between winning and losing. The Redskins’ inability to respond left them way in the dust the last two games.
Kirk Cousins isn’t there yet: This was another game where you couldn’t really blame the quarterback for the loss but at the same time he didn’t do enough to pull the team to a win. He made some good throws but two in particular—the one that was tipped and intercepted to set up a Chargers field goal and the overthrow of Vernon Davis on fourth down when the Redskins had a chance to make it a game—were costly. Again, I don’t expect Cousins to put 30 points on the board by himself. But along with the rest of the team, he didn’t do enough in response to adversity.
The defense has fallen apart: This is no longer a fluke, it’s an epidemic. They have allowed 30 points or more in six of their last eight games. Sure, they have been hit with injuries but today they lined up nine Week 1 starters. I’ll bet that compares favorably to many other teams around the NFL. I’m not sure if it needs to be totally rebuilt but it certainly needs another solid draft and a free agent or two.
The Redskins tried to balance the offense: At one point in the third quarter, the Redskins had nearly the same number of running plays as passing plays. That was a good plan but the Redskins just couldn’t sustain anything on offense. They ran just 50 plays and went two for 12 on third down. You just aren’t going to win doing that.
Breeland gets first defensive TD of the year: They could have used it much earlier but Bashaud Breeland got a hold of a pass in the fourth quarter and bolted 96 yards for the Redskins’ first defensive TD of the season. Jay Gruden talked about the need to get big plays, game-changing plays, especially if you can’t convert on third down. If that had come earlier, it would have qualified. As it was, it just made the final score less embarrassing.