If you wake up feeling tired, grumpy, and confused on Tuesday morning, you should know that you will be far from alone; Redskins fans everywhere are likely still reeling from what was a ridiculous and soul-crushing loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football.
In a game that saw everything from penalties to punt returns mind-boggingly botched, the fact that the Redskins almost walked out of FedEx field with a win speaks volumes of the quality of football displayed by both these NFC East teams.
Whilst this loss will no doubt be a bitter pill to swallow for Redskins fans, the fact remains that they are still technically atop the NFC East, albeit only on tiebreakers. They still control their destiny.
Based on what was served up last night, however, you can be mad as hell and no one should begrudge you of that. And if you don’t particularly feel like re-living it, we here at Redskins Capital Connection understand. But for those of you who want to try and understand what the hell happened last night, then we present to you this weeks edition of What worked, what didn’t, what sucked.
- The Redskins defense continues to create opportunities for the team, notching up three takeaways against Dallas. This represents the 4th time in 2015 where the defense has had three or more takeaways, which is the most since 2012.
- Simply put, Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry’s unit did their jobs well in this game, holding the Cowboys to 1-of-9 on third down conversions, allowing only one touchdown, and limiting explosive Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant to 62 yards on 3 receptions.
- In the dying minutes of the fourth quarter the Cowboys trailed 6 points to 9, and had the ball one yard out of the endzone. With Stephen Paea and Jason Hatcher on the bench unavailable due to injuries, the defensive front saw Ricky Jean-Francois move from Left Defensive End to Right Defensive End, with Terrance Knighton and Chris Baker beside him. The Redskins stuffed Darren McFadden for a 1 yard loss, and forced the Cowboys to settle for a game-tying field goal. A huge goal-line stand for the defense
- The Redskins have had difficulty this season in stringing together consistent games with the same personnel at Middle Linebacker, and last night was no exception. Mason Foster started in lieu of Perry Riley Jr who is out injured, seeing his first action with the Redskins since signing with the team on 29 September. Foster impressed, notching up 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.
- Going into the 2015 season, the starting outside Cornerbacks were Chris Culliver, who is now on Injured Reserve, and DeAngelo Hall who is primarily playing at Safety in recent weeks. Despite that, Defensive Backs Coach Perry Fewell has done an outstanding job with his unit, keeping them competitive with players such as Will Blackmon and Quinton Dunbar starting. Dez Bryant was held to just 3 catches from 7 targets last night, which is a stat-line most NFL Coaches would happily take when game-planning for Bryant.
- Dustin Hopkins didn’t have a perfect game last night, but for the first three quarters of the game you could conceivably argue that both Hopkins and Punter Tress Way were the teams best players. Both still have elements of their game to work on -notably Way needs to make sure he isn’t out kicking his coverage, and Hopkins needs to work on kicking touchbacks late in games-, but overall both players had strong outings.
- Alfred Morris started the game last night, carrying the ball 6 times in the first quarter. Frustratingly for Redskins fans (as well as Morris, one would assume), he didn’t touch the ball in the final three quarters at all. It wasn’t just a case of Jay Gruden sticking with the hot-hand either, as Matt Jones waddled his way to a 2.7 yard per carry average on 18 attempts. Whether it’s Gruden or Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay, it is clear that the Redskins coaching staff simply doesn’t know how to get either Running Back going more often than not, and the entire offense suffers because of it.
- Quarterback Kirk Cousins wasn’t at his best in this game, missing several throws, taking multiple sacks, and simply failing to move the chains as the game went on. The Redskins only had 9 first downs via passes last night, which obviously isn’t close to enough if they want to be a competitive team in December.
- As noted above, Tress Way may be out kicking his coverage on punts. But regardless of that the Redskins Special Teams coverage unit did a poor job of containing the Cowboys. Allowing an average 10.3 yards per punt return and 35.0 yards per kickoff return meant that on a night where field goals were the staple, giving the Cowboys decent field position multiple times severely dented the Redskins ability to keep them off of the scoreboard.
- Let’s get it out of the way and talk about DeSean Jackson. That punt return was embarrassingly ridiculous, and yes, it effectively cost the Redskins the game. That’s not to say that the entirety, nor even the majority of the blame for this loss needs to be put on Jackson’s shoulders. The fact remains, however, that anytime you field the punt at the 16 yard line and then run the ball to the 24 yard line, it is beyond stupid to then turn around and run it all the way back to the 2 yard line. Compound that with the fumble, and you have a new entrant in the “all time worst Redskins plays” list.
- Even though Jackson’s fumble was costly and enraging, the majority of the blame for last nights loss has to be directed to Jay Gruden and the coaching staff. The game plan on offense was horrendous, and seemed to be indicative of a Head Coach who was terrified of losing, instead of coaching to win. The offensive game plan was predictable, one dimensional, and ineffectual. For example, the Redskins ran on first down fifteen times last night, and if you don’t include the first snap of the game where Cousins was sacked, they ran the ball on their first eight first downs.
- The officials in this game were, to put it mildly, woeful. A combined 17 penalties were accepted during the game, eight for Dallas (70 yards) and nine for Washington (74 yards). The worst penalty of all was called against Pierre Garcon for Offensive Pass Interference on this play. You watch the video and judge for yourself:
- The Redskins offensive line had massive issues all night. They were seemingly unable to block against TEX stunts, and Sean Lee, who admittedly is a highly talented player for Dallas, burst through the A gap time and time again with no noticeable adjustments made by the Redskins. Coach Bill Callahan needs to tune his guys up quickly.
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