LANDOVER, Md. -– Themes are fun. Here’s one entering the Washington Redskins’ regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles: “Countdown to kickoff and tee times.”
Yeah, Week 17 means little for the Burgundy and Gold other than a chance to even their regular season record at 8-8. Considering the two-month stretch of doom and gloom beginning with Alex Smith’s broken leg in Week 10, finishing level almost seems like an achievement. Seeing as the Redskins were once 6-3 this season, not really.
There’s the potential spoiler subplot, however.
With a win, the Redskins would eliminate the Eagles from the playoff picture. Philadelphia needs a victory and a Minnesota loss to secure a postseason berth. That means some in the stadium will have more than a passing interest in Kirk Cousins’ performance against Chicago Sunday while Washington caps the season with its fourth starting quarterback.
Win or lose, the Redskins are heading into the offseason this week which means a new theme emerges, one that will last for weeks and weeks: That stunk. Now what?
Here are the highs and lows from Week 17: Redskins vs. Eagles
REDSKINS VS. EAGLES: HIGHS & LOWS
HIGHS: D.J. Swearinger’s sudden release this week put Deshazor Everett back in the starting lineup. Good timing because Eagles quarterback Nick Foles squandered a red-zone opportunity on Philadelphia’s first possession with an errant pass right to the Redskins safety. It seems unlikely Washington enters next season with Everett in the starting lineup, but he now has 11 starts for his career. Don’t assume the team can fill all of their holes in free agency and the draft.
LOWS: Perhaps for the first time since taking over as the starting quarterback, Josh Johnson looked like a player who played for more than a third of the league. He threw an interception on the first play, his fourth on the season. Other throws sailed or simply missed targets. The Redskins did not record a first down on their initial three drives.
Philadelphia capped its third drive with a Jake Elliott 33-yard field with 26 seconds remaining in the quarter for a 3-0 lead. The swarms of Eagles fans that turned the lower bowl into a sea of green approved.
HIGHS: Rookie inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton recorded the first sack of his career. That’s it, that’s the list. Guess Johnson moving to fantastic San Diego in the coming days when he begins playing in the Alliance of American Football league could be considered a lifestyle positive.
LOWS: Sometimes stats don’t tell the full story. That’s not the case here.
First downs: Eagles 14 Redskins 2
Time of possession: Eagles 23:49 Redskins 6:11
Total net yards: Eagles 205 Redskins 30
Score: Eagles 10 Redskins 0
Actually, the 10-point lead isn’t truly representative of the one-sided half and the Eagles didn’t find the end zone until 30 seconds remained in the half when Foles found Alshon Jeffery for a two-yard touchdown.
Here’s the impressive part: The score capped an unreal 19-play, 87-yard drive that lasted 11 minutes and 49 seconds. Wow. Foles finished the half 19 of 22 for 143 yards.
Other good news for the Eagles: The Vikings are trailing 13-0.
HIGHS: Forgot to mention punter Tress Way in the first half. His touchback-less streak continues. Way booted four punts for an average of 47.3 yards. Two landed inside the 20-yard line. His team MVP candidacy remains strong especially since he completed a 7-yard pass to Jehu Chesson off a fake punt on fourth-and-two on the final play of the quarter.
LOWS: Another time-sucking drive for the Eagles ended with a second Foles touchdown pass. Slot receiver Nelson Agholor reached the ball across the goal line while falling to the ground, but he did just enough for a 6-yard score. Philadelphia 17-0 after the 13-play, 68-yard drive consumed 7:23 off the clock.
Not sure if anyone must select a Redskins offensive player of the game. Thru three quarters, literally, none exists unless Way counts. Five players have a team-high one reception. Adrian Peterson has zero yards on four carries. Chris Thompson’s three touches from scrimmage netted the scat back seven yards.
The Redskins offense played exactly six snaps in the quarter. Overall, that’s 23 plays from scrimmage compared to 58 for the Eagles.
HIGHS: Nate Sudfeld, Washington’s sixth-round pick in 2016, entered the game in the fourth quarter and promptly threw a 22-yard touchdown pass. Problem: Sudfeld plays for the Eagles. Why is this a high? Because I was one of those sane folks who believed the Redskins should have kept Sudfeld on the 53-man roster in 2017. Instead, they released him and then watched the 6-foot-6 passer sign with the division rival. He then returns to FedEx Field in Week 17, capping a Redskins season that saw them use four starting quarterbacks this season. Well done, universe.
LOWS: Final: Philadelphia 24, Washington 0. The Redskins finished 3-5 at Fed Ex Field, ending with a four-game losing streak. Overall they ended the season losing six of seven games. They also missed the playoffs for a third consecutive year and fourth in five under head coach Jay Gruden.
Maybe the 6-3 record overstated Washington’s overall performance through Week 10. The finish exaggerated the downside as well. The Redskins ended the season with 24 players on injured reserve. When Smith joined that list, slippage seemed likely. When Colt McCoy suffered a broken leg two weeks later, the downward dive kicked in. Now the organization enters a confusing offseason with major roster questions, most notably about what happens at quarterback.
For the moment Gruden appears safe, but other coaching changes are possible. As recent weeks have proven, what’s true today may not be tomorrow. Just know NBC Sports Washington is on watch. We also might sneak in some tee times now the season is over.
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