Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers: Takeaways from Redskins' 38-20 Loss
Consecutive humiliating defeats have already put the Washington Redskins under intense pressure to save their season. Week 1's home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was followed by a 38-20 trouncing at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.
There was barely a positive in sight, as both sides of the ball were woeful. The defense could not stop anything the Packers tried, while the offense faltered until the game was out of reach.
Here are the good (if any), bad and downright ugly takeaways for the Redskins from Week 2.
The Pass Rush Is as Good as Any in Football
The only thing the Redskins don't need to fix about their defense is the pass rush. The unit tallied four sacks against the Packers, including three in the first quarter.
The lion's share of the pressure was created by outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Orakpo decked quarterback Aaron Rodgers for one sack, while Kerrigan notched a pair of takedowns on consecutive plays.
This dynamic pairing is vital to the defense, and on this evidence, is going to be a real force this season. Their talents allow coordinator Jim Haslett to blitz less, something he does not always take advantage of.
But trusting the Orakpo-Kerrigan double act to get after quarterbacks, should let Haslett work on making the coverage schemes more secure.
Of course, the problems begin when the Redskins' pressure doesn't quite make it to the quarterback.
This Secondary Is a Disaster
Disaster might actually be too kind a word to describe the state of Washington's secondary. The group severely lacks credible talent and discipline.
The unit continued its role as this team's Achilles' heel, allowing the Packers to amass 480 yards through the air. Wherever Rodgers aimed his passes, he found receivers who had easily shrugged off attempts at coverage.
The defensive backfield was supposed to be boosted by the return of veteran safety Brandon Meriweather. But his reckless style soon took him out of the game with yet another injury.
It was also another rough outing for two rookies drafted to repair this fragile unit. Safety Bacarri Rambo was not helped by Meriweather, but was still guilty of his own missed tackles and bad angles in deep coverage.
Meanwhile, cornerback David Amerson was savaged by the Packers. Whether it was James Jones or Jordy Nelson, Green Bay's receivers were able to catch passes at will against Washington's top rookie.
With the secondary in this state, the Redskins will find themselves having to keep pace with 30-point offenses every week, regardless of the opposition.
Robert Griffin III Is Beyond Rusty
The rust has been obvious on Robert Griffin III at the start of this campaign, following an offseason spent recovering from major knee surgery.
But at other times, Griffin has just been downright poor under center. There were serious issues with his mechanics and decision-making, at times, against the Packers.
Griffin lofted a series of errant throws that usually sailed high or drifted behind his intended target. At other times, 2012's rookie sensation was hesitant in the pocket and attempted some dangerous late passes over the middle.
Griffin looks like a player who has been out for a while. He also looks like a quarterback who is struggling to refine his overall game.
Slow Starts Are Becoming a Dangerous Habit for Alfred Morris
For the second week running, Alfred Morris took too long to get warmed up. His early struggles again hampered Griffin and the offense.
Morris is essential to the success of the scheme, and he needs to overwhelm defenses early. But his tame running has eliminated much of the play-action passing that made this offense so dangerous in 2012.
Morris has started slowly in the first two weeks, but he cannot afford to stumble his way through the early stages of another game. It might be smarter for the Redskins to consider rotating the carries more often, especially in the early stages.
Special Teams Are Becoming a Major Liability
It is certainly time to start worrying about the performances of the special teams. Penalties, feeble returns and damaging kicking have characterized the unit during the first two weeks.
Things were particularly ugly against the Packers. The special teams were responsible for several costly penalties, including a 15-yard personal foul, incurred by backup tight end Niles Paul.
Meanwhile, the return game again failed to make an impact. Pint-sized rookie running back Chris Thompson has the speed and moves to pose a considerably greater threat.
What is holding him back is poor recognition of the lanes opening in front of him. Improvement can only come from good coaching and special attention being paid to the return game.
That attention should not simply come from coordinator Keith Burns but also head coach Mike Shanahan himself.
It would also be a good idea to refocus the efforts of punter Sav Rocca. His weak kicking directly contributed to one Green Bay touchdown and ensured the Packers won the field-possession battle without too much effort.
Right now, this special teams unit is doing little more than aiding the opposition.
The Redskins Lack a Truly Dependable Wide Receiver
It is a lottery deciding which wide receiver the Redskins can rely on week to week. Despite obvious talent and potential at the position, a truly dependent, go-to playmaker has yet to emerge.
In Week 1, it was youngster Leonard Hankerson who showed the most promise. Against the Packers, it was brittle veteran Pierre Garcon who came to the fore, catching eight passes for 143 yards.
The problem is, no receiver on the roster is consistent play to play and game to game. Spreading the ball around to a litany of capable pass-catchers can be a good thing in the right system.
But simply waiting for the hot hand to emerge from a hit-and-miss bunch every week, is far from ideal. It would be a huge help to Griffin to have a definite No. 1 target he could trust to make plays when it counts.
The Interior Offensive Line Is a Mess
The offensive line was a shambles in Week 1. But while there was improvement from the tackles this week, the interior trio was again a major weakness.
Line coach Chris Foerster needs to work with center Will Montgomery on identifying and adjusting to middle blitzes. The Eagles used the tactic to keep Griffin under consistent pressure last week, and the Packers clearly took notice.
Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers attacked the middle early and often with blitzes by inside 'backers Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk. Montgomery had no answers to these pressures.
The interior trio are also allowing too much early penetration in the running game. As a result, Morris is often prevented from waiting for cutback lanes to develop on the stretch play.
The line was a team strength in 2012, and Montgomery and guards Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester played their parts in that success.
But, so far, the 2013 campaign has been a nightmare for this group.
Many of the Big Problems Can Still Be Fixed
If there is any good news, it is that the major issues blighting the Redskins can still be fixed. Griffin can improve and should do just that the more time he gets with his skill players.
By the same token, the major issue defensively, bad tackling, can soon be rectified. A simple commitment to technique and aggression could solve that problem.
Of course, the question is how long will it take for Washington to remedy its main problems? Yes, there are still 14 games left, and the NFC East remains wide-open.
However, that is a temporary state, and the Redskins are quickly running out of margin for error.