Tarik's Take: Redskins fall to Cowboys in "season-defining" loss
5) On the road again
One theme that was repeated time and again in the Redskins’ locker room after the loss was that they’re still on top of the NFC East and control their fate. And that’s true. But …three of their final four games are on the road, where they are a league-worst 0-5 this season. At Chicago (5-7). At Philadelphia (5-7). At Dallas (3-8). After losing to the Cowboys, they’ll need to reverse their road woes—and quickly. “It’s another demon we have to conquer,” nose tackle Terrance Knighton said bluntly. My final though: If the Redskins don’t end up making the playoffs, I’m pretty confident we’ll look back at Monday’s defeat as the season’s defining moment.
4) Not so special
The Redskins’ special teams units had been on the upswing. Until Monday night, that is. Dustin Hopkins picked a fine time to miss his first field goal from inside 50. In the fourth quarter, he pushed an attempt from 43 yards out wide right, keeping it a 9-6 game with 7:29 left to play. Hopkins also ranks among the top-10 in touchbacks, but he put his final kickoff into the hands of Lucky Whitehead about three yards deep in the end zone, and Whitehead returned the ball to the Cowboys’ 44 to help set up the decisive score. And I haven’t even mentioned DeSean Jackson’s fumble on a punt return. Did special teams lose this game? No. But a miscue riddled fourth quarter didn’t help, either.
3) Numbers never lie
At this point in the season, you are what the numbers say you are. And what the numbers say about the Redskins’ offense isn’t all that flattering. After producing three field goals and a touchdown against the Cowboys, the Kirk Cousins-led unit ranks 21st in points scored (21.4 per game). Yes, that’s an improvement over last year's dismal output, but not a marked one. The unit averaged 18.8 points in 2014 (26th) and 20.9 in 2013 (23rd).
2) Insufficient gains
While a lot went wrong for the Redskins, the biggest reason for Monday’s loss was easy to identify: the inability for the offense to capitalize on three defensive takeaways, all Cowboys’ fumbles. Here’s how they went … punt, field goal, missed field goal. So, three points. That’s it. Two of the fumbles were recovered in Dallas territory, as well. The failure to produce points off takeaways has been a problem all season for the Redskins. In fact, they rank 28th in takeaway points (25). They’ve also surrendered 98 points off their own turnovers for a differential of -73, which ranks dead last.
1) Accelerated phase
The phaseout of Alfred Morris seemed to accelerate a bit Monday night. The fourth-year running back saw only six carries—all in the first quarter—and gained with just 12 yards. Morris played eight snaps, two weeks after logging only three at Carolina. Rookie Matt Jones, meantime, had 49 yards on 18 carries while playing 40 snaps. Here are Morris’ rushing totals through the years—1,613…1,275…1,074…494, which puts him on pace for career lows in carries (188) and yards (659). The 26-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. And you’ve got to start wondering if his days in Washington are numbered.