Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Full Roster Grades for Washington
Positive grades are hard to come by for the Washington Redskins after a largely tepid performance in Week 11. They were comprehensively beaten on the road by the Philadelphia Eagles, with only a late rally making the difference in score an almost respectable eight points.
The main problem was a passing game that took too long to exploit an injury-hit Eagles secondary. That failing was compounded by yet another woeful defensive effort.
Those weaknesses wasted a strong rushing performance, particularly in the first half.
Here are the full report card grades after the Redskins dropped their seventh game out of 10.
Had it not been for a pair of scoring throws in the fourth quarter, Robert Griffin III would receive an "F." It is hard to remember a game where his passing technique and pocket awareness were as disappointing.
Griffin badly overthrew a host of receivers who were open for what would have been big gains. He also had passes tipped at the line and continued to hold on to the ball too long after his first read was covered.
Griffin did still make some nice plays with his feet, gaining 44 yards on 10 rushing attempts. But head coach Mike Shanahan has to be more than a little concerned about his young quarterback's struggles as a passer.
While the passing game continues to stutter, there is nothing wrong with the development of second-year running back Alfred Morris.
He punished the Eagles on 22 bruising runs, gaining 93 yards. Had Washington not fallen behind so early, it would surely have leaned more on Morris in the second half.
With his primary workhorse running so well, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan didn't have to rely too much on other ball-carriers.
That meant that Roy Helu Jr. only got three carries, but he did gain 39 yards, including a nice 24-yard run that showcased his acceleration.
With a running game this good, the Redskins only need a complementary passing attack and a defense that can keep the score close enough for the run to stay relevant.
Darrel Young continued to show why he is an invaluable member of this offense. The versatile fullback was a useful contributor in more than one area against the Eagles.
He made several key blocks in the running game and also converted a pair of third downs as a ball-carrier. Young capped a fine individual effort by catching a 62-yard touchdown pass, thanks to the way he smartly adjusted to give his quarterback a target on a broken play.
It was a forgettable game for the Washington tight ends. The only reception the group managed was by Jordan Reed, but he soon left the game after suffering a concussion.
Nobody emerged to take his place as a receiving threat. In fairness, players like Logan Pauslen weren't helped by Griffin's abysmal delivery.
Paulsen was wide-open for a huge play in the first half, but Griffin overthrew him by some distance.
While they may have expected more from their quarterback, the tight ends performed poorly as blockers. The Shanahans fielded a lot of three-tight end sets, but that did nothing to improve pass protection.
Players like Reed and Niles Paul struggled to contain pass-rushers on the edge.
It was a rough day for the wide receivers, thanks largely to Griffin's struggles throwing the ball. As usual though, Pierre Garcon was still productive.
He led the team with six catches for 68 yards and continued to exhibit a real flair for yards after the catch.
An injury to Leonard Hankerson took away Garcon's best complementary receiver, after only one catch for five yards. But veteran Santana Moss survived some early drops to make a pair of good gains later on.
It was also not until late in the game that Aldrick Robinson emerged. The team's best deep threat hauled in a 41-yard scoring reception thanks to a good adjustment in the end zone.
The team's wide receivers have become an easy target for the woes of the passing game. But the group is not always being given a chance thanks to Griffin's inaccuracy.
The offensive line is arguably the most erratic unit on a wholly inconsistent team. The unit once again successfully created inviting lanes in the running game but was still overwhelmed by a pass rush.
Neither side of the O-line could deal with Philly edge-rushers like Trent Cole and Connor Barwin. The pair combined for three of the four sacks Washington surrendered.
More than just the actual sacks, though, it was the constant pressure on the pocket that really undermined the passing game. While Griffin was undoubtedly poor, he is not the only quarterback who would be made to look below-par behind this group.
Once again, the Washington defensive line didn't do enough to disrupt an opposing offense. The group up front failed to get into the backfield on a consistent basis.
It has become a serious problem that has undermined the defense as a whole. At the root of the issue is the absence of a truly dominant playmaker.
Nose tackle Barry Cofield has not built on some early-season promise, and nobody else has emerged as a force alongside him.
The Eagles were able to let passing plays develop and regularly find holes in the running game, because of the D-line's flat performance.
The lone bright spot for the group was a decent performance from third-year pro Jarvis Jenkins. He was in on a sack and made four combined tackles.
Hopes have been high for 2011's second-round pick, but he must become more consistently destructive.
The linebackers toiled hard behind a weak performance up front and still produced 2.5 of the team's three sacks. Brian Orakpo was responsible for 1.5 of those in his most productive game since his two-sack performance against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4.
He was mostly held in check on the edge but looked dangerous any time he was given license to attack inside on twists and games.
Moving him to the middle produced a sack and showed why the Redskins should get more creative with their top pass-rusher.
Sadly, Orakpo's efforts were not matched by his fellow outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. He was a nonfactor, on the pass rush or in stifling the run.
For this defense to work, both of the team's bookends have to produce week to week.
On the inside, London Fletcher was dangerous on the blitz, helping himself to a thunderous sack on quarterback Nick Foles. Next to him, Perry Riley Jr. remained as active as ever, making five solo tackles.
He was also frequently used as a blitzer. But although he came close to a sack or two, Riley didn't always complete plays, something that has been a issue during his short career.
Veteran rotation players Nick Barnett and Darryl Tapp each made just a single tackle but at least Tapp's was to dump star running back LeSean McCoy for a loss.
This is a solid group of linebackers that is currently being wasted by weaknesses both in front of and behind them.
They combined for seven catches for 119 yards, mostly because they won physical battles against the Washington cornerbacks. Rookie David Amerson again looked as though he would surrender a big play at any time.
Of course, the cornerbacks were rarely helped out by their safeties. The weakest position group on the team continued to undermine the whole defense.
Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty are both willing hitters, but they lack range and natural coverage instincts. They are also not an opportunistic pairing, a problem made worse by rookie Bacarri Rambo's inability to get his hands on the ball.
This secondary needs playmakers, along with one obvious strength that can be translated into a consistent game plan. Haslett has to decide if he will lean on a specific coverage technique and scheme to at least minimize mistakes.
The personnel may change, but it seems no matter what the Redskins try their special teams will remain a disaster. This week's attempts to get better involved using rookie wide receiver Nick Williams in the return game.
He was elevated from the practice squad to provide an impact but, instead, provided one bad decision after another, almost single-handedly losing the field-position battle.
But there was still room for punter Sav Rocca to again put the defense in a bad spot. Rocca has developed a nasty habit of producing weak kicks at the worst possible time.
Coverage was not terrible, but it was hardly impressive either. The special teams need as big an overhaul as the defense.
Mike Shanahan is quickly running out of supporters. A seventh loss of the season featured the same failings that have plagued his Redskins teams for the last four years.
A weak defense, an inconsistent passing game, dire special teams play and a lack of discipline have become all too familiar to Redskins fans.
Those who have grown tired of the ineptitude are making themselves heard, according to The Washington Post's Mark Maske:
The conversation about job security extended beyond Shanahan, however, as the Redskins were in the process of falling behind 24-0 on Sunday. Fans took to social media to call for the ouster of Shanahan’s top coaching lieutenants, particularly defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. There was speculation, even on the team’s own radio broadcast, that Shanahan perhaps should change quarterbacks and bench Robert Griffin III, last season’s NFL offensive rookie of the year, in favor of backup Kirk Cousins.
It's hard to argue with a lot of of the complaints. Coordinators Kyle Shanahan and Haslett could both do more to put their players in better positions to win.
The younger Shanahan is very creative, but there is no coherence or pattern to his play-calling. By contrast, Haslett is not expansive enough with his schemes and personnel.
The failings of his defense took a run-first offensive approach away from the Shanahans in Philadelphia.
No matter how much relevant information is offered in support of Shanahan, however, it’s difficult to imagine any NFL coach would be permitted to return for the final year of his contract, let alone receive an extension, if the team he has led for four years continues to play as poorly as the Redskins did in Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Hoping to remain in contention in the NFC East, the Redskins appeared to sleepwalk through most of an alarming performance against the division-leading Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Redskins (3-7) struggled on offense and defense while falling behind by 24 points in the third quarter. But what should be most troubling for Shanahan — and owner Daniel Snyder — is that the Redskins came out flat in a must-win game that could have pulled them closer to the Eagles (6-5). Even in one of the league’s worst divisions, the Redskins cannot expect to salvage their season if they’re listless against a divisional rival.
If Shanahan can't keep his struggling team at least motivated to play hard, this season will turn as ugly as some of the Redskins worst-ever years.