What We've Learned About the Washington Redskins Through 3 Games
One could argue that, if not for the miserable effort the defense of the Washington Redskins has put on, they could be 2-1, or at the very least have one win under their belts. The reality of the situation is that the 'Skins defense is awful, and their offense has been neutralized for a number of reasons.
Is the ship sinking, or is this just another season-opening slump that will be corrected coming out of the bye week?
Needless to say, there are a number of things that have gone wrong for the Redskins, and even more shooting themselves in the foot. Penalties, miscues, poor effort and general disarray have turned a team with some Super Bowl buzz into a team with no identity and more questions than it can possibly answer.
Here's a look at some of the biggest issues with the Washington Redskins through the first three weeks of the season.
Their Secondary Is Worse Than Last Season
The Redskins secondary was a mess last season. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were inconsistent in coverage, Tanard Jackson was suspended before the season began and Brandon Meriweather was healthy for all of a single half of football.
This season, despite adding promising rookies Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson at safety and corner, the secondary remains in shambles.
Rookies take time to adjust, everyone knows that, but the lack of production at the top of the depth chart and the lack of capable depth has made a bad situation worse. When the corners play off, teams have adjusted to quick routes that have killed the Redskins because then their abhorrent tackling turns five-yard slants into 15- and 20-yard runs after the catch.
Why would anyone give Calvin Johnson, one of the biggest receivers in the NFL, inside leverage on any route? Sure, Hall has two defensive touchdowns, but he and the rest of the secondary have been picked apart to the tune of 999 passing yards.
The Offensive Line Has Not Improved
If I didn't know any better, and you told me this offensive line blocked for a league-leading 169.3 yards per game last season, I would call you a liar. Despite the personnel being unchanged, this year's offensive line looks like a shell of its 2012 form, failing to open holes for Alfred Morris and allowing too much pressure to reach RGIII.
If the Redskins can't run, the play-action pass will not succeed, and the Redskins offense will be dead in the water.
Penalties have been a problem this season, and it has to be frustrating to see positive gains wiped out by holding calls or momentum halted by a false start.
As far as players go, Chris Chester wore down against Detroit and started letting Ndamukong Suh have his way in the second half, the stretch run played right into the Eagles defensive strength and Tyler Polumbus is the clear weak link at right tackle, and it has forced Griffin into some tough situations.
They Cannot Tackle
There is a startling lack of proper tackling throughout the NFL in this day and age, with more players delivering punishing hits as opposed to just wrapping a ball-carrier up and taking him down.
That being said, the Redskins defense has looked horrendous, taking poor angles, attempting too many arm tackles, diving at legs or just flat-out failing to wrap up and secure the stop.
LeSean McCoy blew through the 'Skins defense to open the season, but in the last two weeks, the Redskins have seen the likes of Detroit's Joique Bell and Green Bay's James Starks break through sloppy tackles for big, drive-extending runs.
When tackling receivers, Brandon Meriweather and Bacarri Rambo have both routinely launched themselves at receivers rather than breaking down and getting their hands on a body.
They Have No Return Game
Preseason fumbling issues aside, Chris Thompson has great speed and could be a dynamic return man for the Washington Redskins. Thus far, Thompson has done nothing as either a kick or punt returner, which led the Redskins to substitute Santana Moss and Josh Morgan in the past two weeks.
After the ineffectiveness of Brandon Banks, Thompson was viewed as an upgrade but has yet to show the return ability the Redskins kept him on the active roster for.
With the defense being so porous and the offense sputtering, the return game was the one phase the Redskins could have salvaged. Thompson needs to show something in the next couple of weeks or he will lose his job, and even then, Washington's hopes of making plays on special teams may be shot.
The Offense Is Out of Sync
It was apparent in the opener when Griffin put a lazy toss on Morris that resulted in a safety, and it continued in subsequent games when Griffin unleashed confident, seemingly accurate throws to no one in particular.
Timing is one thing, but there doesn't seem to be a page for the rest of the offense to get on to alleviate the mistakes and miscues.
Griffin has thrown behind receivers, over their heads, out of their reach, Morris has been impatient with his running, the offensive line has been spotty and the play-calling has been unimaginative.
They don't need to run Statue of Liberty plays or anything, but it would be nice to see some confidence in at least one player, and having RGIII throw 50 times a game is not the way to do that.
Jim Haslett Is on the Hot Seat
If the Washington Redskins maintain their current pace of allowing 488 yards per game, they will surpass the 2012 New Orleans Saints defense as the worst in NFL history by 766 yards. A combination of offensive miscues, poor tackling and poor scheming has put defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on the hot seat.
Haslett was the catalyst behind the Redskins' shift from the 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme, and while the unit has shown promise, the pieces have not come together for whatever reason.
It is easy to blame the coach for the defensive woes, but a coaching change may not be the worst idea in the world.
He hasn't shown an ability to adjust to his available personnel when injuries hit and doesn't seem to be able to adjust in-game when the secondary is being shredded with quick passes that nullify his blitz and pressure packages.
Robert Griffin III Is Healthy but Has Not Returned to Form
Robert Griffin III is the easy target for criticism in regard to the 0-3 start to the season. He was "All in for Week 1" following his injury, and perhaps that promise has come back to haunt him. It is plain to see that, while healthy, Griffin does not look comfortable running this offense.
Blame it on rust, blame it on the brace, blame it on working through the mental aspect of the recovery, blame it on what you will, but RGIII is not the same player he was last season.
While I don't believe Griffin is destined to be a different player for the rest of his career, I believe the coaches need to find a better way to utilize him, adopting more of a West Coast approach as opposed to simply shortening the field with their current system and having Griffin drop back to pass 50 times a game.
The solution is simple enough, but it is apparent that Griffin needs some help in adjusting to being back in live action, and he needs to make up for lost time with his receivers, his backs and his offensive line before he can be the impact player he was as a rookie.