Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Redskins, they did. This season seems as though it could have been something great, but the common theme week in and week out is the fact that the injury rate only keeps increasing.
Going into a home game against Dallas, both teams were looking to be possible contenders to secure the second spot in the division, as Philadelphia looks to run away with the top spot, and possibly a first round bye in the playoffs. The Redskins knew it was going to be a battle, not only because of the rivalry but also due to the injuries that significantly affect their depth. While I do not think the Redskins played horribly, what kept me sane was me telling myself that there was only so much they could do since they were so limited.
It’s no secret that Dallas plans on running the ball and throwing the play action, so game planning this week was not going to be the biggest factor in helping Washington win the game. What in fact was the biggest determinate of this game was if the Redskins were going to be able to execute on those plays when it really mattered. Honestly, while anyone who watched the game can answer that question with a confident no, there were still some positive takeaways from the loss.
With many of the players’ returns still up in the air, it looks like the only player we can put trust in for now is Zach Brown. Brown’s play at the point of attack matched with his athleticism has really helped him pile up stats over the season. Every game he has made his presence felt in some way. While a healthy defensive line was already going to be hard to matchup against a very experienced and physical Dallas offensive line, a banged up line could only fare so well.
To make matters worse, one of the best and most promising lineman on the Redskins, Matt Ionnaidis, suffered a fractured hand during the loss last Sunday. Moving forward, the Redskins look for Ziggy Hood to now be “that guy” to step up and take Ionnaidis’ role. While all did not so bright, especially because of the score, the best takeaway from the game is that the defense actually held their own.
Dak Prescott’s 143 yards through the air and no touchdowns is not a bad day from a secondary standpoint. Considering Breshaud Breeland being out and Josh Norman being back after being out, I’m fine with this performance. And while Zeke rushed for 150 yards, it was on 33 carries, which, at that point, are definitely going to rack up. Dallas scored 18 points off of Redskins turnovers and it was the long drives that kept them in field goal range. Given the conditions, in a game like this, the offense asked for too much out of the defense.
When it comes down to it, the defense did what all they could do and the offense still had the chance to go out there and win the game. It’s just the money downs where the Redskins continue to struggle at times that catch up to them when it matters.
Kirk had an interception late in the game to seal it for the Cowboys. While I wasn’t surprised by it, I can say he didn’t play too bad given the circumstances. In a game where it’s pouring down rain, most teams try to make their focus start out on the ground, but for the Redskins, that was nonexistent. With three starting lineman being out, it’s hard to even get a rushing attack up and going. Thus, the game was pretty much left in Kirk’s hands, and that’s the last thing the Redskins should ever want to do. Throwing for 263 yards in the rain and a touchdown is an accomplishment, however, when you don’t have a running game to compliment, and your pass protection is sub-par, receivers are going to have to step up and make plays when it counts, and that’s another component of Washington’s game that was missing on Sunday.
On the flip side, we did finally see an emergence of Jamison Crowder, while Josh Doctson caught another touchdown pass as well. These two have shown dependability and with Terrelle Pryor’s production going down, their production needs to increase. While the Redskins continue to look to answer questions at receiver, things only are going to get more complicated here on out with injuries to both Niles Paul and Jordan Reed, from Sunday’s game. One thing that Sunday’s performance highlighted was that there are a lot of blank spaces in which players can emerge from next season, including what happens with Kirk. At this point it’s quite obvious that he needs help and when he doesn’t have it, his game play diminishes.
Dallas wasn’t an easy team, but they aren’t world-beaters either. With just a couple made plays here and there and limiting turnovers, the game is going the other way. The game ultimately came down to execution and response, in which Washington did neither properly.
The Road Ahead
Heading into Seattle next week, things are only going to get harder as the Redskins try to contain a hot Russell Wilson-led offense and a decorated Seahawks defense. Seattle’s matchups have been known to give the Redskins trouble in the past, but at any given moment I think Kirk is due for one of his performances that keeps the fans inspired; Redskins fans are hoping it comes Sunday.