Monday, October 13, 2014

The GBU: Redskins @ Cardinals

(Ryan Clark braces for the inevitable ending. Photo:
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Something had to give today. Either the Redskins were going to win their first game on the road since September 2013 (a ugly, ugly win against the Raiders) or the Cardinals were going to beat the Redskins for the first time in eight tries (at least according to the Fox broadcasting team). The Redskins unfortunately made many of the same mistakes that they've been doing all season long and despite a shaky performance by the Cardinals, the 'Skins fall to 1-5 with a 30-20 loss in Arizona.

The biggest thing I think we've learned today is two fold. First, the chances of the Redskins having a winning season during Jay Gruden's first year as head coach seem slim to none. Second, I think it's pretty clear that Kirk Cousins is not the long term solution to the team's woes at quarterback.

This team is just a mess despite thinking that there was more depth and talent on the roster coming into training camp than we had seen in years. The fact is that there are significant problems with the defense at almost every position. The offense isn't much better as the team has some serious problems in the trenches. Even special teams have question marks that may not be answered until we reach the 2015 off-season.

So what happened today? Well, let's take a look at who did good, who did bad and what ugly things happened to make this game what it was. It's time for this week's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Ryan Kerrigan (9 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 FF) - The NFL stats on are giving Kerrigan only a
(Photo: Washington Redskins)
half-sack so far, but I think that will be upped to 1.5 sacks by the end of the week because Kerrigan tackled QB Carson Palmer on a naked bootleg run for a three yard loss late in the game. I know that Palmer was running for a 1st down, but it should count as a sack.

As for the game itself, Kerrigan played a major role. he contained most of the outside running plays which kept Andre Ellington to under 70 yards on 19 carries. There were plays were Kerrigan was cut down to be taken out and yet he still made the tackle. Kerrigan seemed to be one of the only Redskins making a play on the field.

DeSean Jackson (3 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD; 1 carry, 1 yards) - Jackson is showing why I'm glad he's not an Eagle anymore. His speed is just amazing and he scored that TD against one of the best corners in the league. Yeah, he can't block but the team shouldn't put him in spots to do that. Garcon, Moss, Grant and Roberts are the guys who can actually block.

Sadly, someone on Twitter made a great point about him being on the Redskins: He's a fancy sports car on a team with no gas.

Jordan Reed (8 catches, 92 yards) - It's nice just to see Reed back on the field and then he has a game that doesn't look like he's missed any time. I just hope he can stay healthy because Reed is just an amazing talent that will drive defensive coordinators crazy.

Roy Helu Jr. (3 carries, 26 yards; 2 catches, 40 yards) - The stats don't look that impressive, but Helu made a dynamic catch and run that gave the Redskins a FG opportunity before half time. Jay Gruden really wants to have a RB that can catch out of the backfield. Alfred Morris isn't that guy but Helu may be. Does this mean that Helu may be getting more reps in the future? I think so.

The Bad

Coaching - Where to begin? I get that there are a lot of injuries on the Redskins. I get that the team is asking players to try to go when they aren't 100% and that they are trying to plug in guys not familiar to the scheme or playing in certain spots but it just seems like as fans we're watching the same thing each and every week.

The team seems to lack discipline in certain areas (see penalties) and just aren't picking up their assignments. It also seems like some players are going through the motions. Maybe I'm wrong. Most players are professional and they play hard, but I'm starting to see some things I saw in 2013. Apathy or just a lack of intensity?

I don't get why the 'Skins don't rush for at least twenty times a game. Yes, I know the run blocking has been poor, but asking Cousins to throw close to 40 times a game won't help. This team is built for stretch runs and the play action pass you can use by running the ball. I also don't get the defensive schemes and how top tier players get so wide open against the 'Skins. There seems to also be a lack of adjustments that tend to drive me crazy as well.

( I could hear the chants of RGIII through the internet yesterday as Cousins threw his third INT. Photo:
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Kirk Cousins (24/38 354 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) - Let me start by saying I think that Cousin is still one of the best QBs in the league when it comes to finishing a game (ie. coming off the bench cold to relieve the starter). Cousins is a smart player who knows the playbook well enough and can play well against a team that has not game planned for him.

Cousins however has not been able to show that he can be a regular starter in the league. Kirk seems to crack under pressure; especially if he get pressure from opposing defenders. He is a game manager who can only succeed when he can have players around him make plays. The good news is that he has that in Jackson and Reed. The bad news is that he doesn't have much of a offensive line  or a defense that can stop a team when he makes a mistake and throws an INT.

Brian Orakpo (3 tackles) - I know Orakpo is not 100%. I know he's gotten better in run and pass coverage. That said, 'Rak pretty much expects a very rich long term contract from some team and I really hope that team won't be the Redskins. Orakpo had a chance to make a major play like he did last year against the Bears and instead drops an easy INT.

He put some pressure on Carson Palmer today, but rarely hit him and got no sacks out of it. And let's face it Carson Palmer is a statue of a quarterback. He's hardly mobile by any stretch and yet Orakpo couldn't get to him to get a sack. Playmaking DEs and OLBs who make big money get to guys who can't move around in the pocket.

Orakpo is a good OLB, but he's not an elite one and when you can't generate sacks, you can't generate interest in long term, guaranteed contracts.

O-Line - Surprisingly, I thought the pass blocking was better compared to some games. The run blocking seems weak though. Chris Chester cost the Redskins four points, momentum and DeSean Jackson a second TD because he couldn't get out of DJax's way and literally tackled him. Tyler Polumbus still can't pass block that great.

Defense - No pass rush. The secondary is a total mess thanks to injuries. EJ Biggers scares the crap out of me as a starting corner and our safeties are starting to show their age on the field. Beyond that, the defense looked great!

Dick Stockton and Brady Quinn on the TV Broadcast - Man, that was horrible. Stockton messes up more things (names, penalties, calls on the field, booth reviews etc.) than any radio or TV play by play announcer I've ever heard. Quinn talking about QB play is hilarious. That said, at least he made the call correctly on the Andre Roberts fumble. The NFL refs with instant replay and help from NY headquarters couldn't even do that correctly.

The Ugly

Stat Time! : Here's the crazy thing of all of this- the Redskins actually had better offensive numbers than the Cardinals in 1st downs (21 to 19), total net yardage (407 to 317) and passing (335 to 243). They also were pretty close in rush yards (Arizona -74, Washington 72).

What really killed the Redskins were three huge categories: turnovers (+4 Arizona), 3rd down efficiency (41% vs. a horrible 20% by the Redskins) and time of possession (34:19 to 25:41).
At this point, with all of the injuries the 'Skins have to play mistake free football to have a chance. Four turnovers means instant loss for this team, especially if you can generate any turnovers for your team.

The Redskins being unable to convert 3rd downs is not a new problem. They struggled with this with Mike and Kyle Shanahan and it has carried over with Jay Gruden.

Time of possession also is a factor in this game. The Cardinals defense are as badly injured, if not more than the Redskins yet, allowing the reserves to stay fresh by not keeping possession of the ball helped Arizona out.

Just Sayin'

- If Kai Forbath can't perform onside kicks well, why are the 'Skins wasting their time and field position doing them? I'm beginning to think that the Redskins should have used an extra roster spot to keep Zack Hocker for kickoffs and let Kai do FG and XP.

- Will Compton seemed to do a better job in coverage and tackling than I've seen with Perry Riley over the last few weeks.....should he be starting?

- The Redskins tried to run a zone read option play yesterday. The result? Cousins handed off to Alfred Morris and he was swallowed up by three Cardinal defenders for maybe a yard gain. Teams don't buy the ZRO with Cousins and unless he can take the ball and cause damage, they never will.

- I got some crap for this on Twitter but I do agree with the refs on the PI call on Bashaud Breeland that seemed to become a turning point in the game. I don't like the call, but in the spirit of the modern idiotic NFL that would be a penalty because he pushed the WR while making a play on the ball. That said, I still don't get how NFL officials can get plays so wrong with so many camera angles and instant replay. Oh sure, Hoculi can mark a ball exactly six inches short because he has Superman-like vision and a ruler but he can't clearly tell when a ball is coming out compared to when a player's knee hits the turf?

- I swear The NFL refs get more worse each and every year. It's not the refs complete fault. They are hindered by a rule book that makes them have to make judgement calls and determine if a flag needs to be thrown based on intent of a hit and other nonsense. They also seemed to be hindered by an NFL that doesn't seem to care if plays are called incorrectly as long as it is doesn't affect a successful team's success. At least MLB has done a better job using instant replay so far and they are only in their first or second year of doing so. The NFL has had replay for well over a decade now and they still screw it up. This is another reason why I'm becoming more and more apathetic to NFL football each week.

What We Learned From This Game?

- Kirk Cousins is not the solution for the Redskins at quarterback.

- Jordan Reed is an amazing playmaker if he can only stay on the field.

- Bashaud Breeland may be a really good corner one day. Right now however, he's a rookie and is going to make a lot of rookie mistakes.

- The Redskins secondary, O-line and D-lines are a mess.

- Brian Orakpo is just not a franchise player.

Final Thoughts

- It's sad that we're only through six games this season and fans (including myself) are already talking 2015 draft. But this is reality. The 2014 Redskins just aren't built to be a winner and with all of the injuries plaguing the team, its much worse than we thought. The good news is that the Redskins will have a 1st round draft pick this season and a full complement of picks.

- I'm looking forward to seeing RGIII return to the field. No, I don't think he'll be the savior of the team and lead the Redskins back from another 3-6 type of record to the NFCE title.What I want to see is whether he can show that he can be the future of this franchise. At this point, I'm really not sure of that.

- The name debate was played a great deal during this game. Protesters against the Redskins came and tried to confront fans. Native Americans in support of the Redskins name came out (the Redskins have a large fan base in Arizona, probably tied to when the Cardinals were horrible and still in the NFC East) to watch their team. Dan Snyder even got a nice screen cap with him and the leader of the Navajo tribe wearing a Redskins cap.

( You mean this isn't the Cowboys/Seahawks game??? Crap.)
All of this will be spun however each side wants to spin it. The Offended will argue that Native Americans are offended by showing the protesters that showed. The Save The Name group will show how N/As came out to back the 'Skins and are proud of the name.

Either way, football in DC still stinks.......

Next Week: The Titans are coming to town and they barely beat the lone team that we beat this season. Maybe the Redskins can find a way to win at home for the fans..... but I don't have high expectations.

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