Redskins: Passive Aggressive Attack Ends in Heartbreak

By on October 30, 2015
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 2-2 Washington Redskins, coming off a game in which they were able to muster up a measure of resilience to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, faced another crossroads game against the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome last Sunday. The question would be: would they be able to put together another resilient performance? In order to do so, they would have to minimize the mistakes that were made in last week’s home game and play a physical brand of football that they have shown in 2015 more often than not. That did not happen.

Unfortunately, the miscues that seem to plague this team at the start of games would rear its ugly head. On the second play from scrimmage, an offensive holding call on left tackle Trent Williams would negate potential first down pass to wide out Pierre Garçon. That penalty put them in a bad spot and ended up being the catalyst that would bring the drive to a screeching halt.

The first half proved to be a battle of the defenses with the Redskins squad playing impressively against the Falcons firepower. Washington’s offense, on the other hand, was a force working against itself at times, only mustering seven points due to an inability to run the football effectively and only converting two of seven third-downs (29 percent). It is widely known that converting on third down is a major key to sustaining drives.

The Redskins struggled to establish what this team would like to forge as their offensive identity, running the ball. Unfortunately, there is not just one solid reason for their lack of rushing success.

For the past three games, the offensive line hasn’t been physical enough in the trenches. When that unit is unable to sustain blocks and establish a solid point of attack, this hinders the running back’s options to divert or cut back because the line collapses. Another factor is that the play calling has been a bit predictable when the Redskins have run the ball.

In the Week 3 Thursday night match up against the New York Giants, the Redskins ran the ball 10 times on first down. Last week against the Eagles the Redskins ran the ball 19+ times on first down. And against the Falcons they ran the ball 14 times on first down. See the pattern here?

Predictability.

Its stands to reason that teams are figuring out this heavy tendency of the Redskins and are exploiting that aspect of their game. Head coach Jay Gruden has made it clear that he was going to make the rushing the football a focal point of the team’s offense but that doesn’t mean it has to happen on every first down.

Keeping the defense guessing and on their heels is something that will help this team be more effective on the ground. In Sunday’s loss Washington was only able to rush for 51 total yards and average of 2.1 yards per carry.

In the second half of the contest the Redskins became very passive offensively. They had several opportunities to close out the game with the lead they had but could not. One particular play that comes to mind is one from the drive after the cornerback Bashaud Breeland interception which he grabbed on the Atlanta 49 and returned to the 21 yard line.

With the score 13-12, the Burgundy and Gold had an opportunity to put their foot on the throat of the Falcons and take control of the game. On a third-and-goal with only six yards to pay dirt the Redskins ran a wide receiver screen to Jamison Crowder which was sniffed out and stuffed for a loss of four yards. Washington was forced to settle for a Dustin Hopkins 28-yard field goal, leaving the door open for the Falcons.

The DC Joe Barry-led defense of the Redskins was relentless on the day however, sacking Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan three times, forcing two interceptions and three fumbles (recovering one of them). The sacks and turnovers gave Washington many chances to put the nail in the coffin but in the waning minutes of the game, this unit would show its fatigue. After holding Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman to 47 yards in the first half, the defense allowed him to rush for 105 yard in the final two quarters. This played a huge part in the Falcons victory.

There were times when the Redskins offense showed resilience. A great example of this was on the final drive in regulation. Washington was trailing 16-19 and, after touchback, they had just 24 seconds left on the clock. They would need to go at least 50 yards to get within comfortable field goal range to tie the game. Redskins QB Kirk Cousins led the offense on a three-play, 46-yard drive to put the team in the right place and they did just that. Hopkins nailed a 52-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

Washington won the coin toss, elected to receive the ball and it looked like it was shaping up for another comeback win for the Redskins. Unfortunately, on second-and-eight midfield, Cousins threw a pass under pressure to receiver Ryan Grant who would slip and fall on the play and Falcons cornerback Robert Alford got himself the game-winning pick six.

It was clear by the eerily silent locker room after the game that the Redskins clearly felt that they should have won this game. But the silence is not an indication that this team felt conquered. It was more obvious that the players were angry and resolved to become better and close games out.

“He threw one interception and the other interception wasn’t his fault,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said about the Redskins quarterback. “It hit the receivers hand and it bounced up into the guy’s hands. But I mean the offense did enough for us to win this game. We had chances on defense to close out the game. “Like I said, we took away their best receiver… our DB’s did a good job. Their running back made some plays but we did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone. We just have to find a way to make a play at the end of that fourth quarter, especially when they overturned the call and gave us another chance on fourth-and-two. We just have to find a way to win.”

Even though there aren’t any rewards for moral victories, Redskins fans can be assured that this team has something it hasn’t had in the past… determination and a burning desire to fight until the clock says 00:00. Washington hung tough with the league’s best and took it to the wire. Now they just have to grow a little more as a team and learn to close out these types of games on a consistent basis.

The post Redskins: Passive Aggressive Attack Ends in Heartbreak appeared first on Sports Journey Media.

This article, Redskins: Passive Aggressive Attack Ends in Heartbreak, first appeared on Sports Journey Media.

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