Week 5: Third and Very Down

On a cold and rainy Sunday in Washington, the Redskins fell 24-17 to the undefeated Falcons, extending our home losing streak to 0-8 and leaving me very down after our third loss. It was not a should-win game, but it was certainly a winnable game and one, like the other losses before it, that we almost did win. For some reason this loss stung a little more than the others. There was a lot of progress this week which ultimately helps ease the pain, and I think our defense stepped up in a big way. There were, however, several major areas of concern, chief among them – Griffin’s concussion, Cundiff’s miss and third downs. 

What we have all been fearing finally happened – Griffin got knocked out of the game after taking a brutal double hit on a scramble. I don’t generally advocate limiting his abilities, but I do think we need to encourage him to throw the ball away or slide sooner in certain situations. Griffin’s concussion is been labeled “mild” based on his symptoms, which is good news and means that, if he clears all tests under the new protocol this week, we should likely see him next Sunday against the Vikings. The Shanahans have made adjustments to the game plan to limit Griffin’s exposure, now we just need the QB himself to make some adjustments on the field as well. Griffin is our future so it is imperative that we help him find the appropriate balance between risk and reward.

Billy the Kid strikes again. Cundiff whiffed a short 31-yard FG to the right, denying the Redskins a hard-earned 10-0 lead in Q2. He has now cost us 12 points over two weeks in which our opponents collectively outscored us by only 9 points. Something has to happen at the kicking position soon. If Cundiff can’t get his head together, there are plenty of available kickers who would relish the opportunity to replace him, including two who spent their summers in Ashburn.

Third Downers
Both sides of the ball need to get it together on 3rd downs. Our offense was 1-9 on 3rd down conversions. Our defense allowed the Falcons to convert 9-17 3rd downs. We cannot win games with these numbers. While the units need to rally together to fix the current 3rd down woes, I would particularly like to see a better effort from both lines. Our O and D lines, respectively, need to stop the pressure and bring the pressure. They need to give our QBs time and they need to hurry the opposing QB. And in the end, they just need to hold the line.

2012 Collins to Yoder
Ok, so Griffin’s concussion is not as disastrous as Campbell’s knee injury and Moss doesn’t deserve a direct comparison to Todd Yoder, but when Kirk Cousins came in the game and nailed a pass to Santana Moss for a 77-yard TD, I couldn’t help but think of the Collins to Yoder TD pass on that cold, dark December day in 2007. Kirk Cousins deserves a big round of applause for his play yesterday. He may have had two INTs, but it was his first NFL start, he clearly had trouble with his headset, the O-line couldn’t buy him time, and we were down 10-14. Cousins finished the game 5/9 with a QB rating over 97. He looked comfortable in the pocket, made (mostly) good reads and threw strong, accurate passes. His performance wasn’t perfect, and no one expected it would be. It was, however, surprisingly good for second-string rookie. I’ll still take Cousins over Grossman any Sunday.

Defensive Evolution
Haz whipped up a pretty good game plan this week. Finally. The defense is still lacking, no argument here, but they did prevent the Falcons from making huge plays and were mostly able to stuff the running game. Ryan Kerrigan looks better and better every week and is really stepping up in Orakpo’s absence. He had a great tip and INT returned for a TD in Q2 and could be seen making plays all over the field throughout the course of the game. Our secondary communicated better than last week and contributed both against the run and in the open field. We brought pressure this week, but we still need to bring more – especially so we can all enjoy watching Cofield celebrate sacks more often. I hope the evolution continues. 

Morris is a Stud.
But you already knew that. The rookie had 18 carries for 115 yards and continues to stiff arm his way through defenses we after week. Nothing but love. 

Other Random Asides
What’s up with Garçon? I know he’s not yet 100% after the foot injury, but there seemed to be a few too many passes that he just couldn’t quite hold onto. Niles Paul and Sav Rocca both get big high fives for their combined effort to pin the Falcons on the 2 yard line. Are we sure Rocca can’t kick FGs? 

We have another tough opponent this week in the surprising Minnesota Vikings. The Falcons game showed that we can compete with the big boys. We may not have anyone shaking in their cleats, but are certainly not a guaranteed W on any schedule either. What matters most to me right now is progress, and I think we see some every week. Fight on, Sons of Washington. Fight on, and the wins will come. 

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