More of the same from Redskins: bad football

Craig Hoffman
September 24, 2019 - 2:58 am
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So far the 2019 Washington Redskins are a bad football team.

The Redskins bring the same bad football they've played all season to a national audience. Craig Hoffman breaks down their 31-15 loss to the Bears.

Good football teams have good plans. Good football teams execute those plans.

The Redskins have done neither of the above and that is why they are 0-3. They do not lack talent. Talent does not make a good football team.

Chronologically this starts with the plans and there is plenty of fair criticism of the plans put on display Monday night.

Khalil Mack is a certified game wrecker. He is the best pass rusher in football and yet the Redskins attempted to allow Morgan Moses to deal with him. Early in the game they even tried to block him with a tight end. The result? Mack had his first two sacks of the year, added to his league-leading total of QB hits with two more, and forced two fumbles.

The Redskins tried more as the game went on and, as Jay Gruden pointed out after, the situation didn't help either, but Mack wrecked the game.

The Redskins otherwise were absolutely dreadful in the first half. Case Keenum is playing at a level that is going to get him replaced as soon as Colt McCoy gets back. He had avoided the turnover bug through two games but had three interceptions and two fumbles Monday night. This is to go with general inaccuracy in key situations and some really poor decisions.

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The 4th-and-1 decision to try and leap the pile – not on the goal line – is legitimately one of the more mind-numbing decisions I've ever seen a quarterback make. Nothing will match Kirk Cousins taking a knee at the end of the first half in Philadelphia a few years ago, but this might be next in my five years covering the team. If that is the goal line, sure! It's a touchdown! In the middle of the field where the ball is live and can be swiped at? Keenum got exactly what he asked for.

Meanwhile, the defense seems like it has been an absolute disaster through three games, though I'm willing to reserve some judgment until I watch the tape. The way the coaches and players were talking afterward made it seem like there was a lot more situational weirdness than flat-out bad play. The bad news is it doesn't matter on the scoreboard.

The problems that did happen have been the same for better parts of three years. Those problems are enhanced on a night where the offense gave up short fields thanks to five turnovers. With that said, the Redskins couldn't get off the field in essentially any drive where the game was truly hanging in the balance.

They gave up three straight touchdowns in the first half, albeit one on an 11-yard field. By the time the offense gave them some semblance of a chance, they gave up a 10-play drive that lasted over five minutes, winding the game clock from 7:02 all the way down to the two-minute warning.

Third downs continued to be a disaster. The Bears converted 8-of-13, which somehow was below the 64 percent Washington gave up the first two weeks. Many of them came on third-and-short, and two of the Bears' touchdowns were in short-yardage situations at the goal line, in the same rub route combinations teams have been beating the Redskins with for two years.

I talked to a defensive coach after the game about those particular plays. He said there is only one solution: stay out of short-yardage. There's almost nothing defensive backs can do. It becomes a leverage game, and especially with the rules allowing essentially for blocking during a pass play on the perimeter, the defense is at an extreme disadvantage.

Football games come down to a select few plays in every game. The problem is those plays are set up by the rest of the plays, and you never quite know which ones are going to be important. Keenum's first interception? It came the play after a monster drop by Jeremy Sprinkle. That drop becomes significantly more impactful a snap later. Two mediocre gains on first and second down? That's not good enough, because that sets up third-and-short.

While the defense finally broke through in the sack column, they didn't get consistent pressure on Mitch Trubisky and the Bears QB absolutely diced them because of it. The third-year starter was 12-of-14 for 123 yards, and all three of his touchdowns came when he had over 2.5 seconds to throw. You know a really easy way to get the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds? Not be in third-and-long.

If you're a fan who's craving some optimism, it was found in the locker room. It started at the podium with Gruden, who gave an authentic "we're in this together" answer to a question about his message to the team. That sentiment was echoed in various forms by Josh Norman, Jonathan Allen and every other player who spoke.

"We're supposed to be the best athletes in the world," Allen said at his locker after the game. "If you don't have the mental toughness to maintain focus through three weeks of a 17-week season? I don't know what to tell you."

Togetherness is good. Perspective is good, too. On one hand, they are less than one quarter of the way through the season. On the other hand, less than four percent of teams that start 0-3 make the playoffs.

Stat of the day: Terry McLaurin is human optimism for Redskins fan. He scored again Monday night, giving him a TD in each of his first three games. He’s the first player to do that since Martavis Bryant in 2014 and the first Redskin since Charlie Brown in 1982. McLaurin is also the first player in NFL History to have 5+ rec and at least one TD in three games to start his NFL career.

Quote of the day: "Talent doesn't do anything. You can look at the worst team in the NFL. Every team has talent – that means absolutely sh*t. You don't win games with talent. Simple as that." – Jonathan Allen

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