HOFFMAN: Reality has set in for 0-4 Redskins

Craig Hoffman
September 29, 2019 - 8:33 pm
Reality has set in for 0-4 Redskins

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Chris Thompson looked he like was on the verge of tears as we spoke in the Redskins locker room.

"That's the most frustrating part about it all," he said, eyes bloodshot and red, "is the fact that, of course Jay is gonna call some plays that's not the best. He'll be the first one to say that. He will call a great play and then we don't execute on it. And that's just kind of how it is."

Thompson and the Redskins mustered just 176 yards of total offense Sunday in a 24-3 loss to the Giants. They are 0-4 and there is more than enough blame to go around.

"A lot of it is on us," Thompson continued. "When you sit back and look at the film, it's not that Jay's calling 50 bad plays. It's we're a play or two away from having some touchdowns on those plays. We have guys that's open and we just don't – as a whole group, as a whole offense – we're not executing those plays when we have those opportunities.

"That's the real frustrating part about it, and that's why I look at it as it's everybody. It's not just Jay. It's not just Kev. It's not just Coach Cav, Coach Jordan. It's the 11 guys that's on offense. It's all of us as a whole group. It's not just on him. We have to execute better. When we execute, we make him look good and that's how the game is."

Thompson's disappointment was matched by Case Keenum's anger. The veteran quarterback started six days after he hurt his foot against the Bears. He threw for less than 40 yards and lasted less than a half before being benched.

"Yes," Keenum responded frankly to a question asking if he was surprised by the move. Asked why, considering how poorly he was performing, he said simply, "I'm not thinking about what's behind me. I'm looking forward. I'm not thinking about being benched."

Keenum expressed frustration with himself for missing two early shots to Trey Quinn. He wasn't the only one. Multiple players mentioned the two easy (by NFL standards) throws that should have been touchdowns on a day where the offense didn't find the end zone.

"We missed two big opportunities early in the game," Thompson said. "That kept our defense on the field. That means our defense is gonna get tired. That's just the reality of the game. We've got to find a way to, when we get those opportunities, make the best of them."

Thompson's disappointment and Keenum's frustration were matched by Gruden's anger. Much like his players, there was an acknowledgement of a collective failure. Again, at 0-4, there is blame pie for all to eat.

"Well, the first explanation would be Brandon Scherff, Chase Roullier, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams and Terry McLaurin are on the sideline watching the game," Gruden said when asked about his offense's struggles. It's a reality that does not get any extra points on the scoreboard and thus gets filed under the 'excuses' category by many, but is a stark reality when put so bluntly by a coach looking for anywhere to turn with his job on the line.

"Second explanation is the guys who are playing are not executing as well as they should, and I'm calling a crappy game. So, those are the main reasons," he continued. "My play-calling isn't good enough, the execution isn't up to par, and we have a lot of pretty good players at home watching."

Gruden has a decision to make moving forward about the player who should be guiding his offense at quarterback, and frankly, it should not be hard. Keenum, hurt or not, is not very good. Wasting another rep on him would be just that, a waste. He is neither the future or the present as Colt McCoy returns to 100 percent health.

Dwayne Haskins was both not ready to play and the best option for Gruden Sunday. With Keenum's inability to execute anything, the Redskins coach had to make the change. However, the evidence displayed itself that there was a reason for keeping Haskins on the sideline this long and for putting him back there moving forward.

Haskins had to use multiple timeouts and picked up multiple procedural penalties. He is not ready to operate an offense for 60 minutes yet, and that has nothing to do with reading defenses and throwing the ball. However he had his struggles there, too, missing multiple open receivers and clearly not consistently deciphering what the Giants were doing defensively.

The rookie held the ball for extended periods of time behind an offensive line that was again solid enough in pass protection and couldn't do anything in the run game. However, there comes a time when a sack is on the quarterback and the two that Haskins took came well past that point.

"It's hard when you don't get the reps," Haskins said after his first NFL action. "Some of that timing stuff is is something you can't do without getting them. That's something that you have to keep working on and getting better at while finding ways to get the extra reps and the extra timing and figure it all out."

That's true, but he's got to be able to operate first. Especially when he's wearing a wristband. Gruden is saying "wristband 17" into his helmet and then he gets to read the play from the list of plays on his wrist. It's not like he's getting "Trips right to z fly motion 2 jet circus can 17 wanda" in his helmet. He gets to read that off a card. It should not be hard to spit out, break the huddle and get to the line without picking up delay of game penalties or burning timeouts.

(Note: That is roughly what a Redskins play call looks/sounds like. It is not necessarily an exact play.)

It's for this reason that the quarterback assignment against New England should be Colt McCoy.

I hear the argument that every snap not given to Haskins is a wasted opportunity, but what is the point of a snap when Haskins is going to be confused, not know where to go with the ball, and get sacked five times while taking 10 extra hits? If the goal is for him to succeed, he should be put in a position to do so. His own development is not at a point where he can do so. That becomes even truer without Williams, Reed, Guice, Scherff and McLaurin.

It's also bad timing. Haskins has a limited portion of the playbook available to him, which can lead to the Redskins being predictable. "I recognized the set," Jabrill Peppers said about his interception return for a touchdown in the Giants' locker room. "I knew they like over-routes from that formation. I trusted my gut, switched direction, tried to get it out, saw nothing but daylight in front of me, it had to be six."

Predictable against the Patriots, the best prepared team the NFL has ever seen, that just gave up its first touchdown since the AFC title game in Buffalo today, seems like a bad idea.

It's nice for McCoy to get another opportunity, especially after the questionable (at best) handling of his injury after last season. However "doing right by Colt" isn't the reason he should start. It's the best thing for this franchise, at least for now.

Haskins is the future. The future is not now. The now is that this is a very bad football team playing very bad football. It does not appear that is going to change anytime soon.

Quote of the day: "I was talking to Jay. Jay and I are friends from way back, so we were talking and he said, 'Hey, there's a fight.' So I didn't see it." - Giants head coach Pat Shurmur on the skirmish after the game involving Landon Collins and Jabrill Peppers.

Collins declined to comment on the fight after the game. Peppers says he has the utmost respect for Collins, but didn't turn the switch off after the game fast enough.

Stat of the day: The Redskins forced four turnovers. They lost. That is the third time this season a team has forced four turnovers and lost. It happened just twice in 2018 in the NFL and none in 2017.

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