The Washington Redskins fell to their heated rival 23-31, on national television yesterday.
But one could argue that it was the way they lost that was more troubling. On offense, the team seemed sporadic and loose while committing three turnovers (and potentially many more).
On defense, the team appeared flat-footed and lacked the usual energy that they have displayed this season. Broken plays, missed tackles, embarrassing 90-yard touchdown receptions… there are plenty of reasons to be upset with how the team performed yesterday.
Today, Redskins fans are not only suffering from a Thanksgiving hangover of too much turkey and pie, but they are also left at dire straights considering where the team will go from here.
I was curious of how the fans were feeling, so I conducted a twitter poll to garner reaction.
REDSKINS POLL: After yesterday's 23-31 loss, the Redskins are now 6-5 and outside of the playoffs. Do you anticipate the Redskins rallying back into the playoff picture?
Survey will be embedded in an article. Strong fan responses may be embedded too. #Redskins
— George Carmi (@Gcarmi21) November 23, 2018
As you can see, there is a heavy sense of negativity around the the team. It appears that many feel that the team is headed towards a lost season. Are these feelings unfounded? Check out my thoughts ahead.
Should Gruden’s Job Be in Jeopardy?
Many Redskins fans are in the business of firing Jay Gruden at the end of the season. I’m not sure I’m there yet. For one, I want to see how the season ends. If Gruden is good at one thing, he’s strong at rallying the troops and playing the “disrespect” card. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team is well-prepared, focused, and ready to play on December 3rd against the Eagles.
I’m not saying that we are guaranteed to win in Philadelphia, but I’d like to see if Gruden has control of the team. If the team shows character and pulls out a win, that’s something. If the team is in shambles and gets run over? That’s something else. And if he can somehow manage a 9-7 record at the end of the season, he deserves another chance.
When I asked whether Gruden should retain his job, I had a few responses:
I hope Danny boy is pissed and will make changes. He hates losing to Dallas. 2nd year with lots of IR players. Several games lost because they were not prepared. Most of losses were big! If we still make the playoffs some things still have to change. Let’s not be the Cowboys!
— Mark (@RDSKN71) November 23, 2018
One intangible that many fans overlook is Gruden’s ability to navigate our front office structure. It’s not easy appeasing Dan Snyder or working with Bruce Allen, but somehow Jay can put up with it. He has earned their trust, and he is the first coach to receive a contract extension under the Snyder era.
Gruden has somehow finagled his way into having authority in the draft process along with Doug Williams, Eric Schaffer, and Kyle Smith. And you can argue, that this combination has put together a few strong draft classes. Under their oversight, it is apparent that we are investing in youth, and have replenished a few position groups with talent. For example, you would be hard pressed to find a Redskin fan who is upset with our defensive line and the addition of Derrius Guice.
One thing that I can say is that Gruden can be a victim of his own pride. Yesterday, it was apparent that he wanted to show the world that his offense worked, and “unleash” Colt McCoy. Last night, the Redskins threw the ball 38 times, compare to 15 called runs. This is not the winning formula of “pound the ball and play sound defense” that got the team to 6-3. His misjudgment had the team looking disheveled and without identity.
Although I wish Gruden would be sharper, I’m a big fan of Torrian Gray, Bill Callahan, and Jim Tomsula. Lose Gruden, and you may lose one of them. Level of Concern is a 6/10
The Redskins should be worried about their offensive outlook in both short and long term. For this season, the team simply lacks the firepower to keep up with other teams in the league. This starts at the wide receiver position. The team lacks a vertical threat, or anyone who can consistently win off the ball. Most of our receivers are “fine”, but they struggle to create separation and rarely produce yards after catch.
Can you envision any receiver on our team pivoting and turning the corner like Amari Cooper did on his second touchdown yesterday? Not one of our receivers can do that. They lack the speed and quickness.
Our offensive line is above-average, but lacks depth. And considering the age of our players (parentheses refers to age in 2019 season): Trent Williams (31), Shawn Luavao (32), Ty Nsekhe (34), Austin Howard (32), Morgan Moses (28) there should be some concern long-term. We have a small window for success, and even our stalwart, Trent Williams is becoming long in-the-tooth.
Age effects our other skilled position players as well. In 2019, Alex Smith (35), Adrian
Peterson (34), Vernon Davis (35), Chris Thompson (29) and Jordan Reed (29) will likely be depended on heavily for our offense. And they all have significant wear and tear.
Overall, in the short term I’m worried that our offensive talent is inferior to other NFC contenders. Just looking at the NFC East, I’d argue that the Eagles and Cowboys have stronger skilled position players than us. Not to mention the Saints, Rams, or Vikings.
In the long term, I believe we are too reliant on aged and injury-prone players. Fans of the team argue that our “team is always injured”. But maybe we should look in the mirror. Is it wise to depend on injury prone players (Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder)? Level of concern: 8/10
Defensively, I think we have a strong foundation and a positive outlook for the future. Our defensive line is well-constructed and they are contributing well to both our run-stop and pass rushing. I mean, how good is Jonathan Allen?
Preston Smith has been emerging as of late, and Ryan Kerrigan has been a steady force for the past eight years. I don’t see this position as a glaring issue, as long as we retain Smith for next season (but we’ll save that discussion for another time). In the long term, it may be prudent to add an elite speed rusher to compliment these two.
I am genuinely concerned with our inside linebackers. Although they are pretty strong against the run, and appear to be genuinely good guys on Twitter, they lack the lateral speed to keep up with running backs out of the backfield.
Opposing offenses are keen to this and it’s become all too common seeing Mason Foster running behind a halfback after they caught the ball. Our inside linebackers are not championship-caliber and that’s an area of concern.
On the back end, although I wish things were tighter, I do like our defensive backfield. I think we have a solid blend of youth and experience. I’m a contrarian, and I don’t think Norman is a glaring issue. Although he can be susceptible to quicker receivers, he causes fumbles, provides adequate coverage, and is leader on-and-off the field.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix concerns me however. He appears to be reactive as opposed to proactive, and is generally there to make (or miss) the tackle after a play is made. I’m not sure he warrants the contract that he wants.
Level of concern: 6.5/10
Is It Time To Panic?
Altogether, I do think it’s time to show concern. With five games remaining, I do not see a game that is an “easy win” regardless of record. The Eagles have a stronger passing attack than the Cowboys, and their defensive line is more stout. Two strengths which coincidentally are our weaknesses. We don’t match up well.
The Titans and Jaguars are unpredictable, and can’t be ruled out. In fact, the Titans have beaten some strong teams this season (Texans, Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots) and should not be overlooked. And our other opponent, the Giants, are a coin-flip.
Maybe it’s the negativity of being the day after a crushing loss, but I think the Redskins stumble to a 2-3 record to end the season. Placing them at 8-8 and outside of the playoff picture.
Granted, things could change with a win in Philadelphia next Monday night. But I just don’t see McCoy playing error-free ball against the Eagles. That game will likely dictate the direction of the season.
If we lose on December 3rd, things could get ugly quick. Since that game is game is so vital, and our offense appears disjointed, my Level of Concern is a 8/10 for the rest of the season.