Defense looks like Swiss chess instead of a Swiss army knife
We all knew that starting 0-2 was a possibility. But, not like this.
The defense, which is one of the most talented that the Redskins have had in years, wasted away another opportunity to take advantage of an early division game. There is not much more to say other the Redskins offense is playing above expectation while the defense looks just flat out bad. Onto the depressing grades for this weeks game.
Passing Game B
What was thought to be a weakness coming into 2019 has been a strength. Case Keenum is proving that the Redskins can cut ties with Colt McCoy and use that roster spot for an other area of need…like cornerback. Keenum has thrown for over 600 yards and five touchdowns in two weeks while manipulating the pocket of an average offensive line that has struggled against two defensive line Goliath’s. Keenum made a spectacular back shoulder throw to Terry McLaurin, something that we never saw with for first rounder Josh Doctson.
Speaking of McLaurin, he is showing that he can be the focal point of a passing game. Yes, Jordan Reed is still the best pass catcher on the roster, but McLaurin is going to start giving him a run for his money. Terry was targeted nine times and secured five catches for 62 yards and one touchdown. At one point, he and Quinn were stacked on the left which freed up the middle of the field for Paul Richardson to have room to catch, turn, and dive into the end zone for the second touchdown of the day. I think we can expect to keep seeing his target share to increase as the season wears on.
Running Game – C
Yes, Adrian Peterson returned to the starting line-up, but it did not seem to matter too much. His stats are a little skewed due to his first run being a loss of four yards. After that, he ran the ball nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown helped him surpass Jim Brown for fifth all time in the career rushing touchdown list. The team as a whole, take out Keenum’s kneel at the end of the first half, ran the ball 16 times for 48 yards and a touchdown. What keeps this grade from being lower is the play calling and creativity. Gruden and Kevin O’Connell used a few gadget plays to get Steve Sims, Jr. involved and utilize his speed. Sims had three carries for 16 yards.
The offensive line continues to have penalty issues in the running game. Brendon Scherff and Morgan Moses were called for a combined three holding penalties. The offensive line needs to get right in order to keep the offense driving and their own defense off the field.
Defense – D+
There were some good things that happened with the defensive unit, but there was more bad.
First the good. Da’Ron Payne is getting better and better every week. He understands where he is in comparison to where the quarterback wants to throw the ball and does everything he can to put a hand in the passing lane. Rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb continues to impress and improve with how he takes angles and has a nose for where the runner is going.
The bad, well, if there is anything under bad, that’s what this was. The defense was touted by fans as a top-5 unit. We here at FPC Redskins did not fall into that trap. We did believe that if everything went right, they could be a top-10 unit. But, with Greg Manusky as the defensive coordinator, there is no way that the players will be put into position to succeed and maximize their talent. Josh Norman is clearly slowing and gets burned every chance the offense takes. Montae Nicholson is then put in a position to choose whether to take an underneath receiver or the one over the top. There is mixed consensus on what Nicholson should do, but it is clear that he is being coached the wrong thing. Norman is a $15 million AAV liability and Nicholson needs to start giving him help.
The bad continues with Montez Sweat. It is early in his career, but he is not having the impact that everyone thought he would when drafted in the first round. We are not sure what is going wrong, but work does need to be done.
Here are some statistics from John Keim about the Redskins defense through the first two games:
Biggest takeaway: The pressure will start to mount on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. The Redskins nearly fired him after last season and, through two games, his group has allowed a combined 63 points and 911 yards. If things don't get better for… https://t.co/Akf1t21eHY
— John Keim (@john_keim) September 15, 2019
The defense is going to need some additional beefing up in the offseason with the secondary, mostly cornerback, needing to be addressed. We all want to see Manusky fired, but here is something to consider by Team 980’s Al Galdi:
#Redskins’ defense was overhyped (again). Allen, Moreau & Dunbar injuries aren’t valid excuses. Jay keeps hinting at firing Manusky. Fine. But replace him w/ who? Ryan’s & Horton’s DC track records are bad, & ILBs & DBs ain’t exactly killing it. Same btw for Tomsula’s vaunted DL.
— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) September 15, 2019
We are not saying Manusky should stay on, but when you do fire a coach, you have to consider the options that are out there. And the Redskins cannot hire from another staff mid-season.
Special Teams – A
There is not much else you can say positive about the Redskins special teams, especially Tress Way. The way he was able to keep the Cowboys pinned back early in the first half is what allowed for the Redskins to stay in it for as long as they did.
A Look Ahead
Here at FPC Redskins knew that starting 2-0 was a high possibility. We have been going back and forth between a six and nine win season and have even dangled the idea of the Redskins only winning three games. Their next test in primetime will see how strong their offensive line can hold up. Monday nights have not been kind to the Redskins in recent history, but they will be looking to turn that trend around against what has been a lackluster offense led by Mitchell Trubisky. Could this be the game where the defense gets right? Doubtful, but they’ve got to win one at some point.
Next Game: vs. Bears (1-1) -4.5; 8:00 pm on ESPN (ABC 7 locally)
*Line was not available at the time this article was written