Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ season-ending 18-10 loss to the Giants.
You have to show up ready to play—The Redskins trailed 12-0 before they knew what hit them. You would have thought it was New Year’s Day and the Redskins had done some excessive partying to ring in the new year. The Giants are one of the few teams that can say that they have been impacted by injuries at least as badly as have the Redskins. But they hit the Redskins early with a 75-yard touchdown run and an interception to set up another score. The visitors were in a battle they perhaps did not expect.
Kirk Cousins not sharp—If this is Cousins’ last game with the Redskins, he gave fodder to the portion of the fanbase that would like to let him go. He finished the game 20 of 37 for 158 with no TDs and three INTs. His passer rating of 31.1 was his worst as a starter. When the Redskins had a good shot at getting into the red zone in the third quarter, he first threw too high for Josh Doctson and then he threw behind him on third down. Early in the fourth quarter, a downfield pass sailed way over the head of a wide-open Vernon Davis. It was cold but there weren’t many issues with the wind. He was rushed some but for the most part he had time to throw. Just not a good day at all.
Run over—It wasn’t a good day for the Redskins’ rushing defense either. In fact, it was by far their worst of the year. Prior to Sunday, they had given up no more than 182 rushing yards in a game. The Giants, who were ranked 29th in rushing yards coming into the game, rushed for 260. They were playing with a patchwork offensive line. A lot of the time, rushing defense is a matter of effort and technique. Orleans Darkwa and the other backs broke tackles and consistently got six yards where the blocking was for three. The defense did manage to hold the score down after the two early touchdowns but it wasn’t a stout effort by any means.
Rushing offense not there—Yes, Cousins had a bad day but it wasn’t like he had much of a rushing game to help him. The Redskins managed just 61 yards on the ground. Yes, Samaje Perine got injured in the early going and Kapri Bibbs had the play the rest of the way. Still, they should be able to muster a more credible ground threat against the No. 29 rushing team in the NFL. The poor performance on the ground was a continuation of a late-season trend. They rushed for over 100 yards just once in their last six games and they only made it to 102 in the one over the century mark.
Reality vs. expectations—The Redskins finish the season at 7-9. That is only slightly down from the win total expected by most in the local media. Most of us figured eight, maybe nine wins. And given the tough schedule and the incredible rash of injuries this year, it’s hard to see how the Redskins season could be considered a major disappointment in and of itself. But the lack of progress over the last few seasons is concerning. Records of 9-7, 8-7-1, and 7-9 don’t represent the upward track you’d like to see for a franchise that has had far more down years than up.