Sunday’s 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay had a Groundhog Day feel about it. You know, where if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow we get six more weeks of winter? Well, Sunday at Fed Ex Field the Burgundy and Gold saw a team that was a shadow of a contender tell us there will definitely be six more weeks of another winter. This was an underwhelming defeat along the lines of Kansas City last year or against Kansas City in 2009–losses that set in motion the ends of the Shanahan and Zorn regimes. One can’t imagine Jay Gruden becoming a one-and-done in Ashburn, but it’s happened before.
RG3VER– the face of the franchise completed 23 of 32 passes and threw for the team’s only touchdown. As we can’t cook the books any further, Griffin averaged under 9 yards per completion and was intercepted twice in the first quarter– the first set up the Buccaneers first points (a 32 yard field goal) while the second was returned for Tampa Bay’s first touchdown of the day. RG3 was sacked six times…and coach Jay Gruden said Monday that Griffin was taking the wrong drops in the wrong situations. It didn’t help that #10 compared himself to elite quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers while complaining he didn’t have great material around him.
Alfred the Almost– Mr. Morris was this close to reaching the century mark for the first time this season…gaining 96 yards on 20 carries in the loss. The actually went to #46 on third and short! Morris and Roy Helu Jr. provided RG3 with solid short options as they combined for 8 receptions–but when your QB checks down that much, there’s a problem. Just like when it seemed Mr. Belding was a little too invested in Zack, Slater and the gang…I mean even Casey Kasem was doing double takes at the Max.
DeSean goes off…only not during the game– Jackson caught 4 passes for 35 yards but saved his burning speed for Monday morning, instagramming “You can’t do epic s#$t with basic people”. Perhaps this was in response to RG3′S comments the day before? It’s a shame Jackson was forced into signing the free agent deal with the Redskins, because I’m sure as a member of a team just 128 miles away he had no idea that this franchise wasn’t well-stocked with talent. Especially since his Philadelphia Eagles played this team twice a year. Glad you waited until after your visit to FOX’s pregame show to drop this deuce, DeSean.
Third and Aggravating– the Burgundy and Gold moved the chains on 4 of 13 attempts…with RG3 competing 6 of 8 passes while scrambling twice and getting sacked three times (one incompletion was wiped out by a TB penalty). Problem was, four of those six completions were of the check-down variety. Two of the three sacks gave Kai Forbath longer attempts (47 instead of 38, 50 instead of 44)–both of which he missed–while the third pushed the team completely out of field goal range. Yardage breakdown: 2 for 4 on third and short, 2 for 4 on third and medium (4 to 6 yards needed) and 0 for 5 on third and long. And I mean LOONNGG: a third and goal from the 20 highlighted the first half, and the last four third down situations faced were by 13, 13, 24 and 10 yards.
Defensive Breakdown– coach Jay Gruden says the D played well for 50 plays Sunday…unfortunately the eight plays or so were back-breaking. Second half touchdown passes allowed of 36 and 56 yards. The secondary was already a patchwork– and Ryan Clark looks like he’s on his last legs at safety. Poor communication and/or execution result in once again huge windows of opportunity for the opposition. They did notch a pair of sacks and hold the Buccaneers to 3 of 10 third down conversions…but tallied just one takeaway as their interception total (3) remains tied for last in the league. They didn’t play badly, but on a day when the defense needed to bail out an ineffective offense, the Skins came up short.
Flying Flags– Nine penalties for 67 yards. Not as bad as Tampa Bay’s tally (11-101)…but still damaging when you have issues on both sides of the ball. Four of the seven offensive infractions were false starts while Tom Compton was flagged for both an illegal block above the waist and illegal formation in the third quarter. Most costly flag? Logan Paulsen’s false start pushed them back to their own 2 a few plays before RG3 threw his pick six…while Compton’s illegal formation helped move a 1st and goal from the 6 into an eventual 47 yard field goal attempt they’d miss. But Perry Riley’s facemask in the fourth quarter allowed Tampa Bay to run off 3 and a half minutes of clock…effectively slamming the window of limited opportunity shut on the Skins.
Cobra Kai– every Billy Zabka character has his fatal flaw: Johnny Lawrence couldn’t handle Ali’s rejection, Greg Tolan picked a fight with a cross-dresser and Chas Osborne suffered a cramp on the high diving board. He always gets his comeuppance, by crane kick or other means. Sunday Mr. Forbath missed 47- and 50-yard field goals…his first misses since week three. He’s far from the problem.
Dissecting the Division– Philadelphia despite its loss to Green Bay retains the NFC East lead thanks to a better division record than Dallas…the two teams play twice in the final six weeks of the season. The Eagles own the NFC’s #3 seed while the Cowboys take the #6 spot (Green Bay has a better conference record). The NY Giants despite being a grease-fire at 3-7 are in third place because of their 45-14 win over the Skins in September…meaning the Burgundy and Gold have a slight edge in the race for last place. Last in the conference remains a possibility– they’re one game better than 16th place Tampa Bay but the Buccaneers own the tiebreaker. Fantastic…
Division of Depression– Tampa Bay is actually in the thick of the NFC South race: the NFL’s Sun Belt Conference boasts a composite record of 13-27-1 with all four teams boasting losing marks. Atlanta leads at 4-6 because the Falcons are a perfect 4-0 against division rivals. Yes, this means they’re 0-6 against everybody else. The NFC West is percentage points better than the AFC North (25-15 to 25-15-1)–although the AFC North has four teams with winning records. The NFC East? Tied for fourth with the AFC West at 20-20.