After a tough loss against a physical St. Louis Rams team last week, the Washington Redskins come up short in another physical contest, this time against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy's defense came up big, but not as big as AJ Green in the passing game.
The Redskins dropped their first home opener in five years and fell to 1-2 on the season.
Last week's lost left a bad taste in their mouth, and this week's loss has only made matters worse for the Redskins. With each game, it is apparent that their roster is not as well-built as initially thought and a losing record is every bit as possible as a .500 finish.
Here are some of the things we learned from the Redskins' Week 3 loss to the Bengals.
The Redskins defense got off to a rocky start this season, displaying solid run-stopping ability, while giving away far too much in the passing game. Aside from the interception for a touchdown by Rob Jackson and one stop late in the fourth quarter, Washington's defense looked awful.
After an opening-drive touchdown throw from a rookie receiver to AJ Green, the 'Skins passing defense was reeling for the rest of the game.
The Bengals finished the game with four passing touchdowns, while Green ran up 183 yards on nine receptions, including the 73-yarder to open the game. Without Orakpo and Carriker, who combined for 15.5 sacks last season, the Redskins have no pass rush and are subject to big plays in the passing game because of it.
Though he wasn't the only defensive back covering AJ Green, DeAngelo Hall's repeated failures in coverage are worrisome. There was a time when Hall was a risk taker in coverage, often getting burned for jumping routes or intercepting passes.
In the past two seasons, Hall's efforts to lock down receivers have failed, and his inability to create turnovers have removed any risk of throwing at him each and every down.
Hall has been playing in the slot more this season because of his issues covering top receivers, but it hasn't mattered and it showed against Cincinnati.
Fred Davis finally showed up for this game, but has yet to find the end zone this season and has looked disinterested in building on the success of last season. Chris Cooley, who was released before the season, could provide a veteran presence and the kick in the pants to get Davis back on track.
If not Cooley, Kyle and Mike Shanahan need to consider using Logan Paulsen on offense in more than a blocking role.
Niles Paul hasn't been the asset at tight end that the Redskins had hoped since switching him from wide receiver this past offseason. Without that added threat from the tight end position, the Redskins receivers are left to fight off coverage which they are not equipped to handle.
Kyle Shanahan prides himself on knowing the ins and outs of every play he calls, or so he has said. He may know his playbook inside and out, but there is a big difference between knowing the playbook and knowing how to call a game.
Against the Bengals, Shanahan called the game as if the Redskins were ahead, when he should have called the game to exploit Cincinnati's defense.
The Redskins rushed for over 200 yards as a team, but the run was abandoned late in the game, was attempts at swing passes and option runs were called more often. Against the Saints, the Redskins executed a picture-perfect game plan that made the offense look unstoppable and Griffin look like a savvy vet.
At home against Cincinnati, the Redskins looked predictable and out of sync, largely due to the pressure applied by the Bengals defense.
Another week, another bad game for the Redskins receiving corps. Leonard Hankerson started in place of the still-injured Pierre Garcon, and he finished the day with four receptions for 56 yards.
After Hankerson, no other receiver caught more than two passes or gained more than 22 yards.
Josh Morgan failed to redeem himself for the late-game unsportsmanlike conduct penalty last week, and the Redskins don't seem willing to run him down the field. They settled for swing passes and receiver screens, rather than using Morgan to stretch the field or work the middle of the field.
The Redskins need Garcon back, if only to force defenses to respect him and open things up for his teammates.
In their season opener, the Redskins ran the ball fairly well, which opened up the passing game on the success of the play-action. Running back Alfred Morris has been productive, but against the Bengals there was no consistent effort to run play-action and take a shot down the field.
Aside from the one deep throw from Griffin to Hankerson that fell incomplete—and should have been pass interference—the Redskins did not stretch the field.
Running up 213 yards on the ground is impressive, and producing three 150-plus-yard rushing games to start the season is great, but if it doesn't add a dimension to the offense it doesn't matter. The Redskins need to move beyond working to balance the offense, and learn to go deep when the defense overcommits to the run.
He ran headlong into oncoming tacklers, he stepped out of bounds at the last possible second, he stood in the pocket too long, he got rid of the ball too late and because of all of that, Robert Griffin III took a ton of punishment against the Bengals.
Cincinnati notched five sacks on Griffin, but that number doesn't begin to tell the story of the extra hits, most of them hard, that he took over the course of the game.
Griffin is more than willing to hang in there under pressure and is a capable runner, but his slight build can't withstand the beating he has taken in the last two weeks. Michael Vick has faced similar punishment in his career, and it has kept him from playing an entire season all but once in his career.