NFC East: 2011 Week 8 Wrap-ups
October, 30, 2011
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
Some thoughts on the Washington Redskins' dismal 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Toronto:
What it means: Well, the Redskins are in free fall. Since starting the season 3-1, they've now lost three games in a row by a combined score of 76-33. And since the offense looks incapable of doing anything at all at this point, it's tough to imagine things getting better any time soon. Their only hope is that this game -- the first time a Mike Shanahan-coached team has been shut out -- is some sort of bottoming-out point.
Injuries taking their toll: The play of the Redskins' offensive line was critical to their hot start, and the injuries that have deprived them of starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and starting left tackle Trent Williams -- not to mention top wide receiver Santana Moss, starting running back Tim Hightower and tight end Chris Cooley -- have rendered their offense more or less incompetent. The Bills had a grand total of four sacks in their first six games, but on Sunday they sacked John Beck nine times. Nine times. That's a number only Ed Rooney, Dean of Students, could love.
Beck is not the answer: Whether it was Beck or Rex Grossman, the key to the Redskins' offense this season was always going to be the group around the quarterback, not the quarterback himself. Beck does some decent things out there, and sometimes he looks like he's freelancing or even goofing off a little. But when you're getting sacked nine times, you're just not going to get very much done.
If they can't run, they're done: Ryan Torain got the start at running back, but once again the Redskins got behind early and weren't able to run their offense the way they wanted to. Remember, this is a team that was leading the NFL in average time of possession through its first four games. On Sunday, the Bills had the ball for nearly 35 minutes. If the Redskins can't establish the run game and chew up the clock, they will not score enough points to win. Against anyone.
For the defense: It gave up 390 total yards, so it's not as though this was a game of which Washington's defense should be proud. But I really don't think the defense is playing all that badly, considering all that's being asked of it. London Fletcher played hurt and had a monster game. Ryan Kerrigan was a force early. And for most of the day, I thought the Redskins actually did a decent job of bottling up Fred Jackson -- at least limiting his ability to beat them with a big play. Eventually, when your defense is on the field for 35 minutes, you're going to give up yards and points, and Jackson did rip off a 43-yard run and a 46-yard catch. But I don't think it's fair to judge this Redskins defense considering how awful the offense is right now.
What's next: The Redskins are back home Sunday to host the San Francisco 49ers, who appear to be on the verge of improving to 6-1 today as they lead the Browns in the fourth quarter. It's not getting any easier for Beck & Co., as the 49ers entered Sunday's action as the second-best scoring defense in the league and the second-best defense in the league against the run.
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