Redskins fans, I’ve always tried to see the positive side to the performance and energy of this Jay Gruden-led Washington Redskins team. This will not be one of those times. The lack of mental discipline and intensity of this team is embarrassing. Play calling and movement are lackluster, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Week after week we watch Coach Gruden call the same mundane and now ineffective plays. The rest of the NFL is playing chess while the Redskins are playing checkers. Players in the past have said that sometimes it seemed like the opposing defense was in the huddle them. That’s never a good thing. The way the Redskins have come out these past few weeks hasn’t been bad at all. On the first drive, the Redskins move the ball with relative ease. Things have gone well often during the second possession, but by the third or fourth everything seems to fall apart. The team’s advantages that were used to their benefit shut down, and they look lost. Every team in the NFL watches film to study and counter their opponent’s strengths. Playing the Vikings, I watched the Redskins constantly get beat on a play that was basically a staple of their offense: the screen pass to the running back out the backfield. That play didn’t work because the Vikings knew it was coming and they knew how to stop it.
Confidence is contagious. In football, it begins and ends with the head coach and is then passed on by the leaders in the locker room. Who are the leaders in the Redskins locker room? Some say QB Kirk Cousins is an offensive leader. I’ll argue that. I’ve watched Cousins remain in a bad play because that’s what the coach called in. That’s obedience, not leadership. I’m not criticizing Cousins for his obedience, but when he can see that the play called may not be best for the situation, he needs to be a leader and change it. In the past three games, the Redskins faced three QB’s that are only 2 years into the system they’re running – excluding Russell Wilson. In each contest you’d think Cousins was the rookie QB. Where is the killer instinct that it takes to win? Football is a game of wills. Usually, the team that expends the most energy toward their directive is the team that succeeds. It starts with the head coach. If the Coach is unsure or vexed with the play call, that uncertainty is conveyed in his communication, which in return filters down to the players. The Redskins aren’t a team that can afford to take it easy on any opponent at any time.
The worst thing that’s happening is we’re wearing our defensive unit down, which causes poor tackling and missed turnover opportunities. I’m sure the defense would never say this, but how else can we explain the sudden drop off in defensive production? The defense makes a huge stop, goes to the sideline and can barely have a drink of water before the offense goes three-and-out or even worse, fumbles or gets intercepted. This wears on the defense. On average, you’d like to see the defense on the field 15-20 minutes of every game. That hasn’t been the case for the Redskins. The Redskins defense averages 28-30 minutes per contest and that is unacceptable. No defense can sustain for that inordinate amount of time week after week.
This shortcoming falls on the offensive play caller, which happens to be the Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden. Success on offense gives life to your defense. When the offense makes a big play, the defense can’t wait to get on the field and show off. Where are the Redskins big plays on offense? Why don’t we take the chances that make other teams successful? Teams face the Redskins and appear to be world beaters. This signals the need for change.
In the 4th quarter, the Redskins had a chance to score and possibly tie the game during the 2-minute drill. I noticed players were casually strolling to the huddle. Nobody on the Redskins offense outside of Cousins seemed to have any sense of urgency. There were 49 seconds left on the game clock when the Redskins received the ball back from Minnesota. I expected the Redskins to come out blazing! Instead, they looked lethargic and unmotivated as if they were ready for the game to end. It’s understood that sometimes you can give your all and still come up short. I was left wondering if each Redskins offensive player gave their all in this contest. The Redskins offense appears to have taken on the lax attitude of the head coach. How many post-game press conferences are we going to hear Gruden say, “We gotta coach ‘em up,” or “I have to watch the film,” as a response for this team’s inadequate performance? The Club Med atmosphere has taken hold of some the players. Other head coaches lose their minds over questionable calls that go against their team. This is not the case with Gruden. We’re not looking for Coach Gruden to embarrass himself, the players or the organization, but it’s not unreasonable to expect him to show some emotion to let us know he cares about how the team gets treated by the referees. This would go a long way in the locker room and on the field of play.
The injuries plaguing the Redskins are common knowledge, but this can’t be an excuse because every team in the NFL is dealing with injuries of some sort. If you dress up for the game, you must be capable and willing to do whatever it takes to win. The fans at FedEx Field showed their displeasure by booing and usually I’m not in favor of that. The Redskins inconsistent performance generated this mean-spirited response from the fans. It’s getting tiring watching this team week in and week out be outplayed and outcoached. Are the playoffs still a possibility for the Redskins? Yes, but I can honestly say that they have a lot of work to do to turn things around and make a real playoff run. At this point, the Redskins can still manage a double-digit win season. Only time, effort and attention to details will decide. Whichever way it goes, we’ll continue to Hail the Redskins for life!
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