The Washington Redskins lost 19-10 to the New York Giants for many reasons on New Years Day.
Were the Redskins outcoached? Yes. Jay Gruden admitted to it after the game and it was clear they weren’t ready for this game by any means.
Were the Redskins outplayed? Yes. They could not execute offensively during this game and defensively for most of the season.
Were the Redskins just out of their own minds? Yes. They believed they were and are better than the Giants and many other teams and were probably more surprised than anyone that they lost this game.
And that folks, is why the Redskins under performed this game and probably this season when it came to their 7 losses.
Mental mistakes plagued this team on many occasions but it was more the attitude that they had all season with a bravado that sometimes made sense, but ultimately failed them and premediated their own demise.
I like many other fans and prognosticators spent the week before the game expecting a Redskins win because everyone was thinking that the Giants would rest everyone because this game meant nothing to them. The Giants after all, had locked up the 5th spot and should rest those players because a more important game was waiting for them right?
Wrong. Absolutely wrong.
The Redskins players it seems, like their many adoring fans, were also expecting the Giants to rest their starters. They seemed to go through the motions of the game until realizing, inevitably and disappointingly, that the Giants were going to play most of their starters until the end. They were shocked that these Giants weren’t just going to let them win the game. How dare they!
They struggled to finally put some drives together and finally scored in the 3rd quarter but it seemed to be too little too late, again. They played as they have in all their losses this year, with a whimper of desperation and seemingly looking for answers from the Football Gods to just gift them the win.
When Kirk Cousins threw his 2nd interception with less than 2 minutes left in the game, fans felt dejected, tricked, and hoodwinked as they realized that the joke was on them this whole time for thinking that this team could of have pulled it off given the amount of bountiful opportunities to get to this point.
As I stood among the Redskins faithful shocked at the result and hoping in an alternate universe that they had won and fans were celebrating. I was quickly brought back to my reality, by jeering fans screaming profanities into the night sky.
My Redskin season ticket companion of 14 years, blamed it all on Cousins’ ineptitude and stupidity. Claiming him to be one of the worst decision makers of our time. She punched me in the arm exasperated at the very thought that this man was going to get paid 20+ million dollars to make the same mistakes again. She bemoaned his end of game incompetence as a historical reference point to his football and perhaps overall human IQ. She slapped her hands together in frustration, placed her hands on her head with incredulity, and lamented the absurdity of cheering for this team filled with imbeciles.
She was mad as hell.
She was right to a certain degree. This team has made stupid mistakes and made stupid assumptions on their skill throughout this season. They doubled down on this belief, with the season on the line, and it cost them dearly.
The Redskins may lack talent in some places and possibly some strategic skill set might be missing on both sides of the ball, but what they lack most of all and will need to address in the offseason is true team leaders who know how to call folks out when they make mistakes and get too high on themselves to believe that wins are just handed to them.
They need players with true chips on their shoulders, not imaginary ones created to push a sound bite. Team leaders that carry a toughness that demands focus, dedication and an effort at all times mentality. The Redskins are missing this toughness, this focus. You saw glimpses of it during the season but it was not omnipresent.
If we review the team captains, do any of them really stick out as that leader? Trent Williams isn’t a true leader when he gets suspended for a drug use infraction that sidelines him for 4 crucial games in the season. DeAngelo Hall isn’t a leader when he’s hurt for most of the season. Cousins shows glimpses of it occasionally after the game is over, but have you ever seen him yell at the offensive line or wide receivers for messing up even once? Niles Paul was hurt for the second half of the season and was the special teams captain so he had no influence in the locker room. Possibly the only team captain that showed emotion, grit and demands some accountability might be, and hopefully is Will Compton. Compton might be the only one and even then its not enough to inspire and motivate the entire team.
You might say Gruden should be that leader, but we’ve heard too many times that he’s a players coach and yells once a year at the team and it is big news when he does. That’s not enough it seems.
The Giants came into this last game with a mentality and attitude that winning is everything, even in games that don’t matter. The Redskins came into the game with a mentality and attitude that winning was something they were entitled to due to their status.
As much as this Redskin team is in an upward trajectory comparatively speaking from decades of losing, they still have a long ways to go to rebuilding something here and it is just as easy to fall backwards next season instead of forwards if they aren’t careful. Let’s hope they get those team leaders to remind them that wins are taken and earned, not received and gifted.
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