The Redskins fell to 3-10 with a 24-0 loss to St. Louis on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 7, 2014). Here were the 10 most important items from the game:
1. History essentially repeated itself on the one-year anniversary of the Kansas City Game
One day before the one-year anniversary of one of the worst days in Redskins history, we got a near-carbon copy: multiple pregame reports and drama, horrible offense and woeful special teams against a team from Missouri.
Also, the loss to the Chiefs, like this loss, clinched a double-digit-loss season for the Redskins. They now have five double-digit-loss seasons over the last six years. New England, for comparison’s sake, clinched its 12th straight double-digit-win season with a victory at San Diego on Sunday Night Football in Week 14.
The Redskins were shut out for the first time since the 23-0 loss to Buffalo in Toronto on Oct. 30, 2011.
2. As for the reports and drama…
President and general manager Bruce Allen on Dec. 30, 2013 called the many reports and leaks of the 2013 season “distasteful” in announcing the firing of executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan. But the reports and leaks haven’t stopped.
We had five major items involving the Redskins in a four-day period:
• Washington Post (Dec. 4): After working with [quarterback Robert] Griffin [III] for more than 10 months…[head coach Jay] Gruden is now done with him, according to multiple people within the organization. Gruden’s assessment goes deeper than Griffin’s play. He has major concerns about Griffin’s decision making off the field…To Gruden, Griffin seemed more concerned about enhancing his brand than about honing his pocket skills. Often, Gruden rolled his eyes after being informed about the life lessons the 24-year-old offered on social media. Gruden became frustrated that Griffin, even after Gruden benched him, failed to acknowledge his role in his failure.
• ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted the following later on Thursday (Dec. 4): There’s a “real chance” Robert Griffin III will be Washington’s starting QB before this season is over, per source.
• TMZ Sports reported the following in the early-morning hours of Saturday (Dec. 6): Robert Griffin III is a spoiled diva who cares more about branding himself than winning … so says a Washington Redskins player who tells us he’s not the only one in the locker room who feels this way. The player — who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity — says playing with RG3 has been a nightmare this season … and the locker room has lost faith in the QB. “No one is happy … no one gets the hype around him anymore.” As bad as Griffin’s play on the field has been this year, our guy tells us it’s actually RG3’s off-the-field demeanor that ticks off his fellow players the most. “He’s secluded and it affects us in the game. We don’t have that real rapport. He’s lost confidence and is complacent now.”
• WP On Saturday (Dec. 6): Less than a year after a showdown over Robert Griffin III, another appears to be brewing. Jay Gruden’s desire to part ways with the ineffective quarterback may put him at odds with owner Daniel Snyder and President and General Manager Bruce Allen, potentially leaving the Washington Redskins searching for a coach yet again.
• Former Redskins linebacker London Fletcher on CBS Sports Network on Sunday (Dec. 7): “Why does Jim Haslett still have his job as a defensive coordinator after five years now of just ineptitude at the defensive coordinator position? He’s clueless as a defensive coordinator. He lacks attention to detail. He lacks feel on how to call a game. Some of the calls he used to call when I was playing were head-scratching. They were so bad, I used to change them, like, ‘We’re not running that.’ And we’d get off the field and he would ask, ‘Why did you change the call.’ (I would say), ‘Because that’s just a dumb call. That’s why I changed it.’ For years he has always made excuses. One minute it was, ‘We’re changing from the 3-4 and we don’t have the right personnel.’ Next minute it is salary cap. Next minute it is Mike Shanahan. Next minute it is injuries. Mike Shanahan recognized early that this guy does not know what he is doing. And he tried to help him out….And what does Jim Haslett do? He threw [Shanahan] under the bus just like he throws everybody under the bus, players and coaches included.”
3. Quarterback Colt McCoy was mediocre at best
The film revealed a performance that wasn’t as bad as it appeared, as McCoy simply didn’t have much to work with around him due to the lack of a running game and more bad pass protection from running backs. But the bottom line production was not good.
McCoy threw two picks (both of which were bad throws), averaged just 6.2 yards per pass attempt and was sacked six times (though he himself wasn’t mostly at fault on any of them). He was off on a good number of throws, even some completions. McCoy registered a Total QBR of 7.6 and a passer rating of 54.0.
McCoy led a Redskins offense that accumulated just 13 first downs and 206 total net yards of offense and went 3-of-12 on third downs.
McCoy had a first-and-10 four-yard shotgun read-option run on which he fumbled and should have handed the ball off the running back Alfred Morris. The ball was recovered by tight end Jordan Reed, and the drive resulted in a punt.
McCoy left the game late in the fourth quarter with a neck injury. Griffin came and went 3-for-4 for 33 yards but got sacked.
4. Redskins running backs were bad
The Redskins totaled just 12 carries for 27 yards.
Morris had a career-low eight carries for a career-low six yards. His had a first-and-10 12-yard pistol-handoff run on the second offensive play of the game. His other seven carries went for minus-six yards.
Morris and running back Roy Helu Jr. continued to struggle in pass protection, as they were at fault on multiple sacks. Helu suffered a toe injury and left the game in the second half.
Rookie Silas Redd’s lone carry was a late-fourth-quarter eight-yard pistol-handoff run on which he fumbled. Receiver Santana Moss recovered the ball.
5. Redskins tight ends were bad
Reed and Niles Paul again struggled mightily when it came to run blocking. This has been a major problem for Reed this season, so much so that the Redskins should consider treating him as a receiver and not ask him to block so much. Paul got shoved back big time by defensive end Chris Long on an early-second-quarter first-and-10 I-formation-toss run by Morris for minus-seven yards on a drive that resulted in a punt.
Reed had just three receptions for 25 yards on seven targets and ran a bad route on McCoy’s second pick, a fourth-quarter fourth-and-11 shotgun pick to safety T.J. McDonald.
6. Redskins special teams were hideous
The Redskins allowed three big punt returns to receiver Tavon Austin: a late-third-quarter 78-yarder for a touchdown, a second-quarter 37-yarder and a late-second-quarter 28-yarder. The Redskins exited Week 14 29th out of 32 NFL teams in yards allowed per punt return (10.5). The Redskins on Tuesday (Dec. 9) waived three special-teams players: linebackers Steve Beauharnais and Everette Brown and corner Greg Ducre.
Receiver Andre Roberts had two punt returns, both coming in the fourth quarter. They went for zero and three yards. He exited Week 14 16th out of 22 qualified players in yards per punt return (7.7).
Punter Tress Way ran for just two yards on a fourth-and-five fake punt in the third quarter, cutting inside when he had wide-open space outside. The ensuing Rams drive resulted in tight end Jared Cook’s third-quarter first-and-goal one-yard touchdown reception that was followed by punter/holder Johnny Hekker’s two-point-conversion pass to tight end Corey Harkey.
Way also had a mere 33-yard punt on the first play of the second quarter. The ensuing Rams drive resulted in Cook’s second-and-15 35-yard touchdown reception. Way did exit Week 14 first in the NFL in yards per punt (48.1) and 14th in the NFL in net yards per punt (39.7).
7. The Redskins’ defense, despite some key absences, played well enough to win
Linebacker Keenan Robinson, safety Brandon Meriweather and defensive end Kedric Golston were inactive. And yet the Redskins registered four sacks and held the Rams to 24 points, 19 first downs, 329 total net yards of offense and 1-for-3 in the red zone.
Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks, including a sack-strip that was recovered by the Rams. He now has a career-high 11 ½ sacks this season, including four over the last three games.
8. That said, the defense wasn’t without fault
The Redskins had zero takeaways off generating three in each of the previous two games. The Redskins exited Week 14 tied for 27th out of 32 NFL teams with just 15 takeaways this season.
The Redskins allowed the Rams to go 6-for-12 on third downs. The Redskins exited Week 14 tied for 23rd out of 32 NFL teams in opponents’ third-down efficiency (43.4 percent).
Rams journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill went 16-of-22 with two touchdowns to Cook, who was wide open on each play.
Austin, in addition to killing the Redskins on punt returns, thrashed the Redskins on end-arounds: five carries for 46 yards.
Safety Ryan Clark was guilty of several mistakes:
• Clark committed a terrible third-and-one 16-yard personal-foul penalty for hitting a defenseless player on the Rams’ first offensive drive, which resulted in a punt.
• Clark had a bad missed tackle on running back Benjamin Cunningham’s second-quarter third-and-two 20-yard run on the drive that resulted in Cook’s second-and-15 35-yard touchdown reception.
• Clark and safety Phillip Thomas had missed tackles on receiver Stedman Bailey’s third-and-12 36-yard reception on the drive that resulted in Cook’s third-quarter first-and-goal one-yard touchdown reception.
9. Adding insult to insult
The Rams’ coin-toss captains were the six active roster players the team acquired using picks from the 2012 RGIII trade.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher on Monday (Dec. 8): “I think they [i.e., the Redskins] got more issues than the coin toss yesterday.” He also denied that there was any meaning to what he did. The Redskins deserve all of the criticism they get, no question. But that doesn’t mean that what Fisher did and the jokes he cracked the next day weren’t classless. Fisher’s regular-season record over his last five seasons is 34-42-1. He’s not exactly in position to be passing judgment on other franchises, even if he does have a dislike for Allen and is friends with Shanahan.
10. Absentee report:
Inactives for the Redskins were:
• receiver DeSean Jackson due to a right fibula contusion suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• linebacker Keenan Robinson due to an MCL sprain suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• safety Brandon Meriweather due to a big-toe sprain suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• defensive end Kedric Golston due to a back sprain and plantar fasciitis
• quarterback Kirk Cousins for a fifth straight game
• right tackle Tyler Polumbus for the fifth time in six games
• guard Josh LeRibeus
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.
• corner Tracy Porter, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 26 due to a right AC-joint separation suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco
• 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 Adam Heyward, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 24 due to a tibial plateau fracture in his right leg suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco
• 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
• corner Chase Minnifield, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 6 due to a concussion suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis