Redskins

Quick Links

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Colts

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Colts

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, September 18, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers.

Talking points

One final look back at the Redskins’ loss to the Colts. 

—Looking back at it, this one was over about midway through the first quarter. The Colts had their way with the Redskins on the opening drive. Jay Gruden said that took some of the energy out of the team. After getting the ensuing kickoff, the Redskins did an end around to Jamison Crowder that was good for 75 yards. But after three plays the Redskins were punting. The Redskins were far from out of it on the scoreboard, but they didn’t seem to have much life the rest of the way. 

—The more I look, the more I find it hard to cast a substantial amount of the blame for this loss on the defense. Not counting a kneel down possession at the end of each half, the Colts had 10 drives. They went three and out on five of them and punted after four plays on another. They got two takeaways. Andrew Luck had a 77.2 passer rating, a performance on the low side of mediocre. 

—Alex Smith didn’t have a terrible game and a couple of key passes were dropped, but he still had a hand in the defeat. He missed a few passes, in particular a fade to Josh Doctson in the end zone that would have made it a four-point game in the third quarter. It wasn’t an easy throw, but it was one that a veteran with his experience should be able to make. 

—Late in the first quarter, the Redskins had driven into Colts territory and Chris Thompson lost three yards on a third and one. Gruden said that “we didn’t have a puller” on the play. I asked him to clarify and he said, “we blocked it wrong,” essentially saying that someone blew an assignment. That is not encouraging news. 

Injuries of note

Rob Kelley left the game with a toe injury and it appears to be somewhat serious. Gruden said that “he hit it pretty good” and he could require surgery. “Could be a month, month and a half type of deal.”

The agenda

Today: No media availability

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 5; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 20; Cowboys @ Redskins 33

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

    

Quick Links

Zach Brown 'surprised' by 1st half benching, calls run fits 'Day 1' knowledge

Zach Brown 'surprised' by 1st half benching, calls run fits 'Day 1' knowledge

When the Redskins sent their defense out to the field to start the game against the Giants on Sunday, Zach Brown did not take his usual spot at linebacker. Rookie Shan Dion Hamilton did instead. 

"I was surprised but the coaches made a decision I guess," Brown said after the game. 

Brown missed practice time last week with an illness, and Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after the game that's why Hamilton got the start. Brown clearly did not like the decision and posted a message on his Instagram voicing his frustration before the game. 

The results were bad too, as the Giants ran for more than 150 yards in the first half. That type of yardage did not completely hinge on Brown not being on the field, obviously, but it was a noticeable difference in team speed. Hamilton did notch seven tackles before going down with a shoulder injury. 

Of the run struggles, Gruden said that a number of players suffered "missed fits." That means a player wasn't in the right spot for the defensive scheme, and one player missing a fit can impact the whole defense. 

"It's stuff you work on in practice, but at the same time, it's certain things you should know," Brown said. "You should know how to fit, it probably was a Day 1 play that we ran. At the same time, you got to execute the call."

The Redskins offense never produced at a high level this season, even when Alex Smith was healthy. In turn, it's not that weird for the offense to continue to struggle as their quarterbacks and offensive linemen suffer one injury after another.

Defensively, however, things are weird. 

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's unit looked like one of the best defenses in the NFL during the first half of the season. Then, things fell apart. It hasn't been a byproduct of injury either. 

There aren't any answers on the demise of the Redskins defense. Coaches and players can't understand why simple mistakes keep happening, and Brown's comments explain it well. Guys are missing Day 1 techniques, and the execution just isn't there. There seems to be much more under the surface, but so far, that information is staying there. 

What happens next? Brown said the team has to look at Jacksonville next week. 

"You just got to move on from this game. We got beat, and we got beat bad. We just got to move on to the next game," he said. "We just got to make sure we're on point."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Jay Gruden's job is on the hot seat, and he knows it

Jay Gruden's job is on the hot seat, and he knows it

The Redskins lost their fourth straight game on Sunday, this time in embarrassing fashion. Washington head coach Jay Gruden can feel the pressure mounting. 

"My job is in jeopardy every week," Gruden said after the 40-16 defeat. 

Forgive the head coach a bit of hyperbole, but not much. NFL coaches age in dog years. Every game is a referendum on their ability, and that takes a toll.

For Gruden, it hasn't been an easy season. What started well has since fallen apart, and things swung dramatically when Alex Smith broke his leg last month. His team took an even bigger hit when Colt McCoy also broke his leg last week

Not everything swung on the health of the quarterbacks though.

The Redskins defense started the season strong but has been bad for the last six weeks. Penalties are also a tremendous problem for the Burgundy and Gold. 

"For the most part, I don’t have an explanation right now as far as what the breakdowns were, who they were and why they were," he said.

It doesn't seem fair to blame everything on Gruden, but that's also the nature of the NFL. 

In some ways, it seems Gruden's modest success in Washington might also be his downfall. Jay Gruden's teams won at least seven games the last three years. No Redskins coach in the last 20 years can say the same thing. Gruden was the first, and only, coach to get a contract extension under owner Daniel Snyder. That shows some level of continued competency. Gruden has maneuvered with a stable roster capable of sustained mediocrity, largely without drama.

But there also hasn't been any real success.

The team won the NFC East in 2015, but got quickly dispatched in the playoffs. Gruden's squad lost a win-and-in Week 17 game to the Giants in 2016 to miss the playoffs. In 2017, injuries buried the Redskins' chance at playoff success. In 2018, a new rash of injuries did the same thing. 

The ugly losses don't help. There have been embarrassing defeats that lead some in the 'Skins fanbase to scream for coaching changes. The first half of the Giants game might be a new low point for a franchise that all too often is forced to wonder about new low points. 

Gruden knows the current situation. He understands it. 

He was clearly upset after the Giants game, frustrated by the injuries and his defense's play. Next week in Jacksonville, the team will start their fourth quarterback of the season. That's almost unprecedented in the NFL. 

"What did work? There was nothing that worked so nothing worked. Everything did not work," the coach said.

The nature of the NFL beast means the spotlight lands on the head coach, for better or worse. Gruden, now in his fifth season, knows that, and knows what that means after an awful loss. 

"It’s tough to deal with. It really is. It’s unfortunate. Our guys continue to compete. That product we put on the field today was not a reflection of the guys work during the week and at practice. However, it did look bad. It’s a reflection of all of us."

While the reflection might be of the whole team, Gruden is in the center. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: