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Redskins’ second-half TD drought can be traced too many third-and-long situations

Redskins’ second-half TD drought can be traced too many third-and-long situations

The Redskins are 2-1 and in their two wins they put together some impressive first halves. Washington put up 21 points in the first half of the season opener in Arizona. They bettered that in Week 3 against the Packers, scoring 28. 

The Redskins’ offense earned those points. They didn’t get any short fields following opposition turnovers. Their shortest TD drive this season went for 73 yards. They have had two that went over 90 yards, including a 98-yard march against the Packers, the team’s longest touchdown drive since 1999. 

However, in the second halves of those games. The offense has come to a grinding halt. They scored a total of two field goals in those two wins. 

A win is a win, but quarterback Alex Smith realizes that they are playing with fire. 

"I don’t think you can ever expect to go out there and not score any touchdowns in the second half and win ballgames, against anybody, certainly against good offenses and good quarterbacks like Drew [Brees],” he said. “Need to be better moving forward, need to learn from it, and grow from it absolutely."

Smith couldn’t point to any one reason either on why the Redskins are struggling to move the ball in the second half.

"I mean probably a ton of things but in the end, it's coming down to execution,” he said. “There were a lot of times I think in both game you look at self-inflicted things, uncharacteristic things, got us off schedule, putting us in tough situational football, third and long, things like that and things that are hard to convert.”

Smith is on to something with the third-and-long situations. In the first halves of all three of their games, the Redskins have faced 19 third-down situations and their average distance to go was 4.7 yards. They had a solid 57.9 percent conversion rate. 

It’s been a different story after the come out of the locker room after the half. There have been 20 third downs and the average has been seven yards to go. The Redskins’ conversion rate plummeted to 25 percent. 

A closer look shows that in the first half the Redskins have had just one third down where they have more than 10 yards to go. In the second half, they have seen nine such situations. 

The third down issue likely is related to problems running the ball in the second half. On first-down runs in the first half, they average a healthy 5.8 yards per carry. In the second half that drops to 3.6 per carry. That is setting up third-and-long situations. 

Smith wasn’t there the last time the Redskins played in New Orleans. That loss wasn’t exactly a textbook case of problems scoring in the second half. The Redskins did put up 14 second-half points, expanding their 17-13 halftime lead to 31-16 with six minutes left to play. The issues with the collapse most centered on the defense but it still illustrates the notion that you can’t have too many points when you face a quarterback like Brees. 

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Jamison Crowder's performance vs. Washington reminded the Redskins just exactly what they're missing

Jamison Crowder's performance vs. Washington reminded the Redskins just exactly what they're missing

FEDEX FIELD -- There's an age-old saying, 'there's no place like home.'

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder called FedEx Field home for four seasons but departed this past offseason for New York on a lucrative three-year, $28.5 million deal. At the time, letting Crowder walk did not seem like a big deal for Washington. His final season with the Burgundy and Gold was injury-shortened and unproductive, and the price tag seemed a little steep for a slot receiver.

On Sunday, Crowder returned to Washington for the first time as a visitor, and he certainly felt right back at home. The 26-year-old receiver finished with five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 34-17 victory over Washington, a game that was not really close at all.

"It means a lot. Great team win," Crowder said on the victory. "Just to come back here to FedEx [Field] against the Redskins, for me, it's a great feeling. I'm just glad to be winning."

In his first year sporting green and white instead of burgundy and gold, the slot receiver has been a valuable asset for second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. Through 10 games, Crowder has recorded 53 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns with a 73.8 percent catch rate. He's on pace for 85 catches and just under 900 yards on the season, both of which would be career highs. 

"Crowder did a great job of making catches when [he] needed to," Jets running back Le'Veon Bell said. 

Meanwhile, his former team has struggled mightily on offense, especially over the last month of the season. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins' 45-yard touchdown pass to Derrius Guice snapped a 16 quarter touchdown-less streak Washington had been on. That's four full games without a touchdown. The streak was the longest of such in nearly two decades.

Crowder, who played in a relatively high-scoring offense during his time in Washington, was asked whether he was surprised about the team's struggles. 

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it much," Crowder said. "I think they have a really good ball team over there across the board. Especially on defense, they have a lot of guys that are really good. Offensively, they got a lot of guys that make plays, young guys that make plays. I haven't really thought about what's going on with them."

With Crowder's departure, the Redskins expected second-year receiver Trey Quinn to fill the void. Quinn has been unproductive and disappointing. He finished Sunday's contest with just two catches for nine yards, an unacceptable performance from someone who Washington counted on to make a leap in 2019. In 10 games, Quinn has a total of 198 receiving yards, with no more than 36 yards in any contest. 

Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin's emergence as the Redskins No. 1 wide receiver has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise lost season for Washington, but even his production doesn't match Crowder's. 

Crowder was certainly happy to defeat his old team but downplayed having any extra juice entering the matchup.

"There wasn't any extra motivation. I just approached it as another game," Crowder said. "It was just a little different going against the guys that I played four years with. I'm familiar with a lot of guys over there. For me, that's the only thing. For my preparation, I just approached it as another game."

Crowder may have seen Sunday as just another game, but the Redskins should look at his performance and see a player they maybe should have kept.

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In a blowout, Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice connect for a meaningful touchdown

In a blowout, Dwayne Haskins and Derrius Guice connect for a meaningful touchdown

Getting blown out by the New York Jets, one would think that any touchdown the Redskins would potentially score when trailing 34-3 would mean nothing. In most cases, that would be correct.

But when Dwayne Haskins connected with Derrius Guice for a 45-yard score, it was actually a very notable touchdown.

The touchdown is important for multiple reasons. One being that it is Haskins' first NFL touchdown. Making his first home start, the quarterback didn't have the performance many would have hoped for. But, he does now have one touchdown.

While it was the first for Haskins, it was also the first for Guice. The second-year running back who has missed a lot of time with injuries returned for the Week 11 battle and show the playmaking ability that has many excited to see him on the field.

Last, but definitely not least, the score put an end to the horrid touchdown-drought the Redskins had been in. Before Guice crossed the goal line, Washington hadn't scored in 16 quarters. Yes, that is the equivalent to four games.

But alas, the Redskins have a touchdown and so do Haskins and Guice. Sunday was a disappointing day, but at least there was this moment.

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