In the last week, the Redskins won their first game of the season in Miami and held an undefeated San Francisco team to just nine points in a tough loss.
If you want to believe those are good results and the first steps toward redemption in an otherwise lost season, then stop reading.
The reality is far uglier than those numbers.
Washington barely beat a terrible Dolphins team in a game that came down to literally the last second and a dropped two-point conversion. A win is a win in the NFL, but in the ranks of wins, it wasn't worth significant celebration.
Then came Sunday's game against San Francisco. In the first half, the Redskins defense impressed, holding Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo to just 10 yards passing. 10 yards! The game looked quite winnable at the half, and really into the third quarter. Eventually, however, the Redskins fell apart. San Fran figured out a way to move the ball, Adrian Peterson had an incredibly poorly timed fumble, and the Washington offense proved completely inept of any chunk yardage plays through the air.
If the Redskins beat San Francisco, things would be different. They didn't.
An intense rainstorm that hovered over FedEx Field during the game was Washington's biggest advantage. The weather hurt both offenses, but rendered the Redskins pass game completely inept. Quarterback Case Keenum finished the game with fewer than 80 yards passing, and while Garoppolo wasn't impressive, he still nearly doubled that total.
Keenum isn't the Redskins only problem, but he is a problem. And the bigger issue is the team's reluctance to go to rookie QB Dwayne Haskins.
The 15th overall pick from Ohio State might not be a completely developed prospect, but he also seems capable of hitting the numbers Keenum has in the last two games. In those two contests, Keenum has 243 passing yards, good for an average of 121.5 pass yards-per-game.
If Haskins can't deliver that level of performance then the Redskins have a big problem. If the team is committed to giving Haskins the full year on the bench for development, then come out and say it. Lay out a specific plan for the rookie, but don't just make vague statements about his readiness level and decide to stick with Keenum.
"Dwayne’s still learning. I think he’d be the first one to tell you that," Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said after the 49ers game.
"We still have faith, total faith, in Case and his ability to manage this offense and run this offense and execute everything within it. We’re moving forward with Case at this juncture," Callahan said.
The weather absolutely limited Keenum's ability to make plays in the pass game against San Francisco, but Garoppolo played in the same weather. The Patriots have total faith in Tom Brady. The Texans have total faith in Deshaun Watson. The Redskins have total faith in Case Keenum?
The idea here isn't to make things completely about the quarterback position. The Redskins issues are bigger than that, and it'd be naive to pretend differently.
A major issue for the organization comes from complacency, a comfort with the status quo. Obviously the team made a major change two weeks ago to fire Jay Gruden. Booting a head coach in season, after five weeks, is a major decision, but in Washington it did not bring major change.
Gruden wasn't great, but he was a cog in a machine that churned out mediocre football. This season the machine went from mediocre to bad. Firing Gruden might not fix that machine.
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