Sunday, November 17, 2013
Eagles 24, Redskins 16: Ten Observations
By John Keim
PHILADELPHIA -- Thoughts and observations after the Washington Redskins' 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:
1. The Redskins proved something in the fourth quarter that we already knew: They have strong character and won’t quit. Yeah, it matters and I’m not being sarcastic about that point. What they haven’t proven is that these players and these coaches can win enough games. What they haven’t proven is that they can be consistent winners. Yes, they have had a couple things work against them such as Robert Griffin III’s lack of development as a passer, owed to a lost offseason. They also had the salary cap mess. But that does not explain 3-7? No way.
2. In a game the Redskins viewed as a must-win game, coming off an ugly defeat, they came out and trailed 24-0 and were completely out of it into the third quarter. If you keep practicing well and it matters as much as they say -- and I have no reason to believe it doesn’t -- then at some point it should translate on the field. It hasn’t. And I mean into wins, not just valiant-but-fall-short efforts.
3. The Philadelphia Eagles had a complete makeover, both in the coaching staff and the playbook, had a bad defense in 2012 and have had to change quarterbacks a few times this season and lost a good receiver. They’re 6-5 and lead the Redskins by 2.5 games.
4. Either the players aren’t good enough. Or the coaches aren’t getting the most out of them. Or it’s both. I agree with them that the attitude has been good; the locker room atmosphere has been very good the past couple years. There will be frustration in every locker room in which teams are losing. There’s some even when winning. The next seven weeks will provide a major test because there’s more uncertainty than last year when they were sitting at 3-6 -- and coming off back-to-back double-digit loss seasons. More contracts are up after the season; and will owner Dan Snyder extend head coach Mike Shanahan? Let the season play out, then make a decision. Everyone here has a lot to prove.
5. Yes, receiver Josh Morgan is clearly frustrated and told reporters that he was told he couldn’t talk after the game, then later telling The Washington Post, “Coach said I can’t talk. Coach said I can’t play football and I can’t talk.” Don’t know if that’s really true or not; Shanahan had already spoken by the time Morgan said this and could not be reached later. Morgan was inactive. He’s been frustrated for a couple weeks, but Morgan hasn’t been productive. He was given numerous chances to produce in various roles and did not do so. The Redskins paid him $6 million this season. We’ll call this Exhibit A as to why free agency is not a slam dunk answer and why the salary cap mess can’t be blamed for all that ails Washington.
6. Griffin will face more adversity after a game like this. Some of it will be deserved; take away his first read and it disrupts him and the offense too much (must be an offseason focus). But I think it’s way too early to think the kid can’t develop as a pocket passer -- and if/when he does the complexity of the offense will increase. He showed that he can recover from a bad three quarters and still put the Redskins in position to have a chance. Leaders do those sorts of things. But that last pass was the sort of mistake he just did not make a year ago. He’s turned the ball too often in the red zone. The protection could be better -- running back Roy Helu could not stop the linebacker’s rush on the sack/fumble; the receivers did not win on the play; Griffin held the ball too long. Losing tight end Jordan Reed to a concussion did not help. If I’m Griffin, I can’t wait to get to the offseason to truly work on my game. This franchise desperately needs him to become a consistent passer; when he plays a certain way it uplifts everyone on the sidelines.
7. How does linebacker Ryan Kerrigan end up on a running back such as LeSean McCoy in solo coverage? It’s a complete mismatch, of course. Kerrigan is a former defensive end trying to cover an all-world back. “That was tough,” fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “We’re 260 [pounds]. It’s just a tough situation Ryan was put in. Ryan can only do the best he can. We don’t run 4.4s.” McCoy ran a wheel route, something the Eagles have shown in recent weeks, out of a bunch formation. And he caught it for a 49-yard gain.
8. Here’s the thing: It wasn’t the only time the Redskins used that coverage. The reason? The Eagles style of play-action left them more vulnerable to inside pressure. On the 49-yard play, both inside linebackers, Perry Riley and London Fletcher blitzed. They clearly didn’t get to Foles. On Fletcher’s sack later in the game they used the same coverage, with Kerrigan on the back; this time Fletcher got free for a quick hit.
9. Pierre Garcon was not in a talkative mood, at all, after this game. He did not like that Trent Williams spoke about what the official said, partly because of a potential fine and also because he did not want it to seem as if they were blaming the refs. Then he told another reporter he wasn’t going to talk because he was hurt. Then when he did talk the answers were rather short. Frustration? Yep.
10. The Redskins’ defense tried to use more man coverage, a tactic I applaud because their zone in the first game did not work. But the Eagles did a good job keeping Foles upright and they ran enough plays that worked against man, like an underneath crosser to DeSean Jackson or the wheel route to McCoy versus Kerrigan. They hurt Washington when it went to zone, too. But the Eagles managed only 46 yards on their last full five drives of the second half as the defense did its job during that stretch.