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Monday, December 2, 2013
Giants 24, Redskins 17: Ten observations

By John Keim

1. The Redskins keep finding new ways to hurt themselves. During Sunday night's 24-17 loss to the Giants it was the rolled snap that led to a tipped punt that traveled only 18 yards and provided the New York Giants excellent field position. The Redskins have gone from recovering their own fumbles for touchdowns in 2012 to botched long snaps. Long snapper Kyle Nelson, filling in for injured and out for the year Nick Sundberg, said he started to snap the ball and tried to stop. "I heard something and I shouldn't have snapped it. Should have waited. Worst case we take a delay of game or false start," Nelson said. Yep, that kind of a season.

2. And then there were the lack-of-composure fouls. Pierre Garcon kicked the ball in the end zone after a failed pass play -- from what I understand, the ball was thrown where it was supposed to be. Garcon wasn't there. He then kicked the ball after New York's Prince Amukamara dropped it in the end zone. "Because we didn't score a touchdown," Garcon said. "[If] we'd spotted 75 yards and didn't score a touchdown ... I'd have punted it harder."

3. Then there was Santana Moss, who did not like holding being called on him. "He called a holding and I just thought it was a B.S. call and I told him it was a B.S. call and he gave me unsportsmanlike conduct. I guess I got a unsportsmanlike conduct for saying, ‘B.S. call.' " Teams trying to snap losing streaks can't afford those sort of 15-yard losses. You dig out of such holes by playing with composure. Instead the Redskins built a 14-0 lead, saw the Giants rally to tie and then resorted to their habit of playing losing football.

4. There is genuine frustration on the faces of numerous players, notably Garcon and Moss and tight end Logan Paulsen. Garcon gave short answers to every question he was asked. Paulsen looked exhausted and drained. Moss was passionate. Others looked stone faced or numb (Ryan Kerrigan). I don't think every player takes losing this hard. That's not to say you should feel sorry for them. Just an observation. Losing has taken a toll. It's not easy to keep asking, "Why are you bad?" It's even harder to keep answering the questions. Four more weeks.

5. The Giants did an excellent job taking away running back Alfred Morris. Some teams have geared up to stop the play-action pass (partly because they felt they could win matchups up front). The Giants knew they could not win if Morris had a strong game. They rotated their safeties and messed up blocking assignments on outside zones. "It affects what the target is," tight end Logan Paulsen said. Their line also slanted in ways the Redskins did not always handle. It's why Morris had a subpar game. Amazingly, he had more yards receiving (27) than rushing (26). Let that sink in.

6. I thought this was interesting stuff from Paulsen. I'll just let him have the stage, but I'll also make it clear: He wasn't blaming anyone in particular, just pointing out where the offense is at right now. "Last year we were able to keep it pretty simple and a lot of basic stuff was very effective for us. This year teams have had a year to look at us and look at that seven-game run and say, ‘This is what they're doing and this is what we need to do to stop them.' So the counter punches to their counter punches are things we have not been able to execute as well."

7. There's more from Paulsen: "We sit in meetings and see it on tape and say these are the plays we need to get to and these are the plays we need to execute to counteract. We haven't been able to nail that home. It's hard to explain. We rep something all week and we expect a certain coverage and sometimes that look isn't there and we have to get to other things in the progression and other routes have to win that aren't the primary route." In other words, the Redskins have not successfully evolved as an offense for whatever reason.

8. The Redskins opened with their no-huddle on the first drive and it worked well, as did the play action (even off zone read). So why not use it more? The no-huddle works great, but for an inconsistent offense it can also lead to quick three-and-outs, which is the fear (they were 5-of-16 on third down). It then puts a struggling defense in bad spots. Also, they did use it later in the game, but a holding penalty on a first down put them in a bad place and they returned to huddling. Denver and New England can use this strategy all game because they operate at a much higher efficiency. They make the no huddle; it's not the other way around.

9. Robert Griffin III completed his first 12 passes and looked calm and poised in the pocket early. He did a better job hitting checkdowns in the first half. On his touchdown pass to Paulsen, Griffin did an excellent job holding the safety by looking to his left, then throwing back to the middle to an open Paulsen. You can't blame Griffin for the failed last drive, not when he had three passes dropped and a fourth one was stripped. Yes, he missed on some throws (by the way I don't think Aldrick Robinson was open in the first half deep down the field. I want to see it again, but my recollection is that the safety came up as the ball was being dumped off to the right flat). I'll have a better feel for his game after re-watching the coach's film.

10. It's clear the Redskins missed tight end Jordan Reed and fullback Darrel Young, both out with injuries. The Redskins used Evan Royster as a fullback in short yardage situations; not his strength and he was stopped twice for no yards. Young has hurt New York in the past on such plays. The Redskins' offense had terrific field position (average starting yard line was their own 32). But they started four drives from their own 41 or better and managed just 10 points.