Last week, the Redskins played pretty well defensively but couldn’t generate enough offense to beat the 49ers.
Today in Indianapolis they moved the ball pretty well but they let Andrew Luck throw five touchdown passes, most of them to receivers who were wide open as the result of apparent blown coverages.
The bottom line was the same as it was in San Francisco, another notch in the loss column for the Redskins, this one by a score of 49-27. The Redskins are now 3-9 and assured of their fifth losing season in the last six years.
Quarterback Colt McCoy, who started in place of a healthy Robert Griffin III, did his part, particularly in the second half. He completed 31 of 47 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns. The fifth-year pro was sacked six times for 51 yards in losses.
But there were moments when McCoy and the offense could have helped the cause and couldn’t do so. The Redskins defense forced two turnovers in Indy territory on the first two Colts series of the game but all Washington could muster was six plays, no first downs, and three points.
“It looked like we were sleepwalking out of the huddle,” said Redskins coach Jay Gruden. “Just not a very spirited performance on offense in my opinion.”
This is on the heels of their game last week when they managed to turn three 49ers turnovers into just three points. When your defense is struggling and gives you a golden opportunity to put points on the board, you have to punch it in.
It may not have mattered. Once Andrew Luck got going it appeared the Colts could score at will. The Redskins helped him out considerably by leaving his receivers wide open on several occasions.
“I don’t know,” said Gruden when asked why the issues, which have been happening during games to varying degrees much of the season, kept recurring. “We addressed that in the locker room. One’s a basic three-deep call and we didn’t have anybody in the deep third. One’s a cover two call and we don’t have a safety playing a half. Players have to step up and start taking some accountability at some point and we have to do a better job coaching, that’s all I can say. To have guys wide open on plays like that is unheard of on simple, basic calls.”
Luck threw touchdown passes of 30, 48, 73, and 79 yards.
Compounding the issues with coverage was the Redskins inability to get any consistent pass pressure on Luck. On the first play from scrimmage Ryan Kerrigan sacked Luck, stripped the ball, and Jason Hatcher recovered to set up a field goal. After that Luck dropped back 27 times, was not sacked again, and usually had all the time he needed to do the damage he needed to do.
How bad was it? Luck averaged 13.7 yards per pass attempt today. That’s the highest ever against the Redskins for a game where the quarterback threw 25 or more passes.
It should be noted that the Redskins were working short handed, with nickel back E. J. Biggers out with a concussion and safety Brandon Meriweather missing some time with an injury as well.
But injuries happen in the NFL and you are only as good as your depth. And it appears that at least some of the blown coverage issues were on starters and more experienced players and not on kids.
The Redskins have four games between now and an offseason where many needs will need to be addressed and many questions will need to be answered. All they can do now is try to fix the coverage issues, figure out how to punch the ball into the end zone after takeaways, and try to steal a win or two.
“Consistency is a big part of football,” said Gruden. “Teams can look good for a quarter, a drive, or a half or a coupe of game, even. The really good teams can do it week in and week out.”
Right now instead of consistency the Redskins have an offense that is broken one week and works the next and a defense that displays the same patter on the opposite schedule.