Upon Further Review: Redskins Week 13

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
10:45
AM ET
A review of four hot topics following the Washington Redskins' 24-17 loss to the New York Giants:

Running trouble: For the second week in a row, the Redskins faced a defense that, statistically at least, ranked among the top 11 in the NFL. For the second week in a row, the Redskins failed to generate a ground game. In the past two games, against two teams that have done well against the run, Redskins running back Alfred Morris has gained 78 yards on 25 carries. He was a bigger factor Sunday night in the first half in the pass game (27 yards) than in the run game (11). And he had two carries in the second half, gaining 15 yards. After that, Morris didn’t touch the ball, which is really difficult to believe. Nor should that happen in a close game. I know the Giants geared up to stop him, but I also think this game exposes more problems with the Redskins’ offense and its inability to adjust (or to make its adjustments work). It only works when it can play one way -- especially against the better defenses. The Redskins have played seven of the NFL’s worst nine defenses in terms of overall yards allowed; if they want to factor in who they have faced at quarterback to explain some defensive issues, you have to look at this when gauging the offensive success. They have played two defenses in the top 11: New York and San Francisco. And the Redskins failed to sustain anything against either.

[+] EnlargeBrian Orakpo
AP Photo/Nick WassBrian Orakpo can help Washington's pass defense improve by generating a consistent pass rush.
Orakpo’s resurgence: Linebacker Brian Orakpo continues to play well, and Sunday he was credited with two sacks and two hurries and again played the run well. On both sacks he was able to cut inside left tackle Will Beatty, something Orakpo hasn’t done a lot of -- he’s typically winning by driving his man back or going around him. Beatty even had outside help so he could play to the inside, but it didn’t matter. Orakpo said last week that he’s playing better now in part because the rust is gone, not to mention any fear about hurting his pectoral muscles again. He’s playing for his next contract, too, though let’s not look at this like he’s, say, Albert Haynesworth. Nobody ever questioned Orakpo’s effort. But it does make the next four weeks interesting for him. The Redskins need to find a way to keep him (Rob Jackson is just not the same player). But I wonder the pay level Orakpo is anticipating; he considers himself an elite pass-rusher.

Blocking woes: If the coaching staff does return, and there’s no scheme change, they’ll have to make changes along the offensive line. They drafted three linemen last year; someone needs to emerge. Though the right side has struggled, they are far from the lone culprits. In the past two weeks, every offensive lineman has had issues. But that was true last season, too. However, the blocking on the edge was much better than it’s been the past two games, with the tight ends and even the receivers. If Santana Moss, for example, holds his block on the bubble screen to Pierre Garcon early on the final drive, it has a chance to be an excellent gain. The big plays come when the blocking on the edges and downfield is good. That has not been the case.

Griffin’s performance: The reason why you don’t sit Robert Griffin III in the next four weeks is because of games like Sunday night. He needs to continue to be placed in all kinds of situations if he’s ever going to become a franchise quarterback. Some growth was evident in his game, with the first-half check-downs and freezing the safety with his eyes. Griffin needs to experience all of this over the next four weeks, because his development is crucial to the organization’s future. That’s true regardless of who is coaching here in 2014. It’s imperative that he get put in positions to win a game at the end -- and then go do it. You build off such scenarios. Thing is, Griffin did what he could on that final drive, and his teammates didn’t help with three drops and a stripped ball. Nor did the officiating crew with a botched down marker. (I'm not going over that again since it was covered in depth Sunday night; not much more needs to be said. A massive screw-up.) Still, there’s nothing to gain by sitting Griffin.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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