The Redskins fell to 3-7 with a 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 16, 2014). Here were the 10 most important items from the game:
1. Quarterback Robert Griffin III had the worst game of his NFL career
Griffin was guilty of multiple bad outings in 2013: at Denver, at Philadelphia, home to San Francisco and home to Kansas City. But his performance in this game was worse than any of those.
Making Griffin’s performance even more disturbing:
• It came off off what was a pretty good performance by Griffin in the Week 9 loss at Minnesota
• It came against a Bucs team that entered this game just 1-8 and was without starting corner Alterraun Verner
Griffin registered a season-low 12.9 Total QBR.
Griffin threw two first-quarter picks.
• The first offensive play of the game resulted in a Griffin first-and-10 pick to linebacker Danny Lansanah. Griffin, throwing out of the offset pistol and off read-option play-action, made a low and awkward throw while moving to his left (he continues to struggles when going left) on a pop pass. Tight end Niles Paul bobbled the ball, which went into the arms of Lansanah. Receiver DeSean Jackson was open on a bubble screen on the play.
• Griffin threw a third-and-six 19-yard pick-six to corner Johnanathan Banks on a play that started at the Redskins’ 8. Griffin, working out of the shotgun, was late on a throw to the left side, which included a dropping linebacker in Mason Foster. He was the lone dropping linebacker, meaning that Griffin should have thrown the ball to the right side. Foster tipped the ball, it went into the arms of Banks and he ran through an attempted tackle by Griffin for the touchdown.
Griffin was sacked six times.
• The six sacks came despite Griffin being blitzed on just four of his 42 dropbacks according to ESPN. Four of the six sacks came against standard pressure. The Bucs’ defensive strategy also worked from a standpoint of Griffin’s average pass traveling a career-low 4.2 yards downfield.
• The six sacks were registered by defensive linemen: Jacquies Smith (2), Gerald McCoy (1.5), Clinton McDonald and Michael Johnson (1 each) and T.J. Fatinikun (0.5). McCoy after the game: “We knew we had to stay alive in our rush because [Griffin] does hold the ball a little bit.”
• If you remove the Week 2 blowout of Jacksonville, a game Griffin left early due to suffering a dislocated left ankle, Griffin now has been sacked 38 times over his last eight regular-season games.
• Griffin took back-to-back redzone sacks during an early-second-quarter drive that at one point featured a first-and-goal at the 6 but resulted in Forbath’s missed 47-yard field-goal attempt. The first sack of the sequence, a second-and-10 sack by McCoy for a 10-yard loss, came as a result of Griffin misreading the field and failing to run up an open hole in the A-gap.
Griffin didn’t see the field well and was off on multiple throws.
• Griffin twice overthrew receiver DeSean Jackson on deep balls. The first instance was a first-quarter second-and-two pistol deep incompletion on a drive that resulted in a punt. The second instance, which came out of the shotgun, was officially a third-quarter no-play thanks to a 15-yard facemask penalty on defensive end William Gholston on the drive that resulted in Kai Forbath’s third-quarter missed 50-yard field-goal attempt. Jackson was open in both instances.
• Two plays after Griffin’s second overthrow of Jackson was a second-and-10 eight-yard pistol completion to Jackson on which receiver Andre Roberts was wide open for a big play.
2. Head coach Jay Gruden was highly critical of Griffin
Gruden essentially admitted after the game that thought about benching Griffin in favor of Colt McCoy. But the real bombshells came the next day.
Gruden said the following of Griffin’s performance on Monday (Nov. 17): “Robert had some fundamental flaws. He did. His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should’ve take five-. He took a one-step drop when he should’ve taken three on a couple of occasions. And that can’t happen. He stepped up when he didn’t have to step up and stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times…It was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from that quarterback position.”
Gruden said the following of Griffin’s postgame press conference, during which he took much of the blame for the loss but also said that his teammates didn’t play well enough and need to play better: “Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself no. 1 and not everyone else. It’s his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position. It’s my job to worry about everybody else.”
Gruden apologized for the Monday comments on Wednesday (Nov. 19), but then provided these gems to NFL Media’s Albert Breer in a story posted on Friday (Nov. 21): “Since the preseason, in the games that he’s played, our production from an offensive standpoint has been awful. I think five touchdowns in all the drives he’s played, for whatever reason, and that’s not good. We’re still trying to figure that out…His biggest thing, he’s been coddled for so long. It’s not a negative, he’s just been so good, he just hasn’t had a lot of negative publicity. Everybody’s loved him. Some adversity is striking hard at him now, and how he reacts to that off the field, his mental state of mind, how it affects his confidence, hopefully it’s not in a negative way…He’s auditioned long enough. Clock’s ticking. He’s gotta play. We’ll see….We want Robert to excel, we really do. But the last two games, it hasn’t been very good, anywhere.”
3. Griffin wasn’t helped out enough by those around him
Griffin had an awful game and was the biggest reason for the loss, but he certainly wasn’t the only reason.
Paul bobbled the ball on the Lansanah first-and-10 pick of Griffin on the game’s first offensive play. Paul also committed a late-fourth-quarter 10-yard holding penalty on the game’s final drive, which resulted in time running out.
Helu had two fumbles, including a late-second-quarter lost fumble after a second-and-six 13-yard reception off Griffin being in the shotgun.
Right tackle Tom Compton committed three major blunders on the early-second-quarter drive that resulted in Forbath’s missed 47-yard field-goal attempt and was ignited by Young’s fumble recovery on special teams:
• first-and-10 10-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty
• first-and-goal-at-the-6 five-yard illegal-formation penalty
• Compton got abused by Smith on a third-and-goal-at-the-20 sack of Griffin for a nine-yard loss
Receiver Pierre Garcon committed an early-first-quarter first-and-10 five-yard false-start penalty on a drive that resulted in a punt. He had just one reception for six yards on two targets.
Tight end Logan Paulsen had a first-quarter first-and-10 two-yard false-start penalty on the drive that resulted in Griffin’s first-quarter pick-six to Banks. Paulsen now has six accepted penalties this season.
Receiver Leonard Hankerson committed a late-third-quarter third-and-eight five-yard false-start penalty on a drive that resulted in a punt. He made his season debut off having been placed on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list on Aug. 30 due to season-ending surgery to repair ACL and LCL tears in his left knee on Nov. 21, 2013.
Jackson had four receptions for just 35 yards on six targets, failing to register a reception of at least 37 yards for the first time in six games. Jackson posted the following quote on Instagram on Monday (Nov. 17): “You can’t do epic s— with basic people.”
Left guard Shawn Lauvao committed an early-fourth-quarter second-and-16 five-yard false-start penalty on a drive that resulted in a punt.
4. For a third straight game, we saw a good amount of read-option
I counted eight read-option or at least read-option-looking plays by the Redskins. Seven of the eight plays came in the first half.
Griffin finished the game with six carries for 41 yards, but those numbers could have been even better. Griffin’s willingness to run appears to be an issue.
• The play before Griffin’s first-quarter pick-six to Banks was a second-and-eight two-yard read-option run by running back Alfred Morris out of the pistol on a play on which it appeared as if Griffin should have kept the ball.
• The drive that resulted in fullback Darrel Young’s early-second-quarter fumble recovery of running back Marcus Thigpen’s muffed catch of a punt included a late-first-quarter second-and-one two-yard read-option run by Morris out of the shotgun on a play on which it appeared as if Griffin should have kept the ball and a second-and-eight four-yard read-option run by Griffin out of the pistol on the first play of the second quarter.
The second-quarter drive that resulted in running back Roy Helu Jr.’s lost fumble included three read-option plays: a third-and-one one-yard read-option-looking run by Morris out of the pistol; a second-and-two eight-yard read-option run by Griffin out of the shotgun; and a first-and-10 four-yard shotgun completion by Griffin to Paul off read-option play-action.
The third-quarter drive that resulted in Forbath’s missed 50-yard field-goal attempt included a first-and-10 read-option run for no gain by Morris out of the pistol.
The first offensive play of the game, Griffin’s pick to Lansanah, came off read-option play-action out of the offset pistol.
Just two of Griffin’s six carries were read-option runs. The other four were scrambles.
• The drive that resulted in Young’s early-second-quarter fumble recovery on special teams included a late-first-quarter third-and-three 10-yard shotgun scramble.
• The third-quarter drive that resulted in Forbath’s missed 50-yard field-goal attempt included a first-and-10 six-yard I-formation scramble.
• A third-quarter drive that resulted in a punt included a third-and-13 five-yard shotgun scramble.
• An early-fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a punt included a fourth-and-four eight-yard shotgun scramble.
5. Five Redskins starters got injured
Left tackle Trent Williams left the game in the first quarter due to sprains of the MCL and ankle of his right leg.
Tight end Jordan Reed suffered a hamstring strain.
Lavauo suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Defensive lineman Chris Baker suffered a moderate SC joint sprain early in the third quarter.
Rookie linebacker Trent Murphy suffered a partial tear of his PCL.
6. The Redskins’ defense got scorched by rookie receiver Mike Evans and again gave the team very little in the play-making department
Evans, the seventh overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, had seven receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets. He became the fifth rookie in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to have 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a game. Among Evans’ big plays:
• early-fourth-quarter second-and-16 56-yard touchdown reception on which he beat linebacker Perry Riley Jr., who botched an A-gap blitz (he was supposed to blitz but didn’t; linebacker Keenan Robinson was supposed to be in coverage). Corner David Amerson appeared to be at fault as well. Also on this drive was a late-third-quarter third-and-14 34-yard reception.
• third-quarter second-and-nine 36-yard touchdown reception on which safety Ryan Clark blew the coverage. The Redskins were in Cover-2, Evans ran past rookie corner Bashaud Breeland, but Clark failed to come over to help.
• second-quarter second-and-20 51-yard reception on the drive that resulted in Patrick Murray’s 38-yard field goal
The Redskins totaled just one takeaway (which came on special teams) and two sacks. The Redskins exited Week 11 just 29th out of 32 NFL teams with nine takeaways and tied for 10th in the NFL with 25 sacks (though 15 of the sacks have come in two games: the Week 2 blowout of Jacksonville and the Week 8 win at Dallas.
7. All of that said, the Redskins held the Bucs to a number of respectable totals
The Redskins held the Bucs to 12 first downs, 3-for-10 on third downs, 329 total net yards of offense and an average of 2.3 yards on 21 carries. Those numbers are more than good enough to win.
8. Morris was a bright spot
Morris had 20 carries for 96 yards and two receptions for 36 yards on three targets. Morris now has 52 carries for 250 yards and three touchdowns since halftime of the win at the Cowboys.
Morris did an incredible job of breaking tackles and turning nothing into something on an early-second-quarter 13-yard I-formation-toss run that also included a six-yard facemask-penalty on linebacker Lavonte David. The drive, though, resulted in Forbath’s missed 47-yard field-goal attempt.
Morris and Helu produced all 79 of the yards on the Redskins’ lone touchdown drive, which resulted in Helu’s late-second-quarter second-and-six 30-yard touchdown reception off a shotgun screen pass by Griffin in the face of pressure. Morris had a second-and-eight 19-yard shotgun-handoff draw-play run and a first-and-10 24-yard reception off a shotgun screen pass from Griffin on the next play.
9. Redskins special teams produced a takeaway but overall performed poorly
Young’s early-second-quarter fumble recovery of Thigpen’s muffed catch of a punt was nice but basically a gift from the Bucs.
Young committed a 10-yard holding penalty on a first-quarter 17-yard kickoff return by Roberts.
Roberts muffed the catch of an early-third-quarter punt, producing a mere one-yard return. His only other punt return was a six-yarder late in the second quarter.
Forbath went 0-for-2 on field goals, missing a 47-yard attempt early in the second quarter and a 50-yard attempt in the third quarter.
Tress Way averaged just 34.3 net yards on four punts thanks in large part to two touchbacks..
10. Miscellaneous Notes:
This loss clinched the Redskins not winning at least 10 games this season. The Redskins now have registered a double-digit win season just three times (1999, 2005 and 2012) over the last 23 seasons.
Nose tackle Barry Cofield, like Hankerson, returned in this game. Cofield came off the bench and played pretty well on 58 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps. He was placed on the reserve/injured list (designated to return) on Sept. 9 due to a high-ankle sprain suffered in the Week 1 loss at Houston.
So much for being inspired: former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, the man who says his bullet killed Osama Bin Laden, spoke to the Redskins during a team meeting on Saturday night (Nov. 15).
Inactives for the Redskins were:
• quarterback Kirk Cousins for a second straight game
• defensive end Stephen Bowen, who had been underwhelming over his three games this season. He missed the first six games of the season due to being on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, which he was placed on this past Aug. 30 due to microfracture surgery on his right knee last Dec. 3.
• receiver Santana Moss for the sixth time this season. He was inactive for each of the first five games.
• receiver Aldrick Robinson for a fifth straight game
• right tackle Tyler Polumbus for a third straight game
• rookie guard Spencer Long for the eighth time in 10 games this season
• corner Greg Ducre, who was signed off San Diego’s practice squad on Oct. 8
The Redskins also played this game without:
• linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 21 due to a torn right pectoral muscle suffered in the Week 7 win over Tennessee
• corner DeAngelo Hall, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a torn left Achilles injury suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia. We learned on Oct. 31 that he had torn the Achilles again.
• safety Duke Ihenacho, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a fractured heal bone suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia
• linebacker Akeem Jordan, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 18 due to a sprained left MCL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28 and then re-aggravated in the Week 6 loss at Arizona
• nose tackle Chris Neild, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Aug. 30 due to a torn right ACL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28