Detroit Lions vs. Washington Redskins: Full Report Card Grades for Washington
Most of the positive grades for the Washington Redskins after Week 3 belong to the team's offense. Despite losing, 27-20, to the Detroit Lions, there were positive performances from quarterback Robert Griffin III and his receivers.
Running back Alfred Morris also looked a lot more like his 2012 version. The only negatives for the offense were provided by a line that still appears shaky and too easy to overpower.
Defensively, the weekly horror show continued. Not a single member of the front seven appears to remember how to tackle.
Things may be even worse in the secondary, where the coverage seems like an alien concept to Washington's defensive backs.
Here is the full list of report card grades for the Redskins roster after their third defeat in a row.
Robert Griffin III enjoyed, arguably, his finest performance this season. He looked confident and composed throwing the ball and also showed a renewed willingness to make plays with his feet.
Griffin ran the play-action passing game with typical expertise. He was also very effective on bootlegs and rollouts.
Precision touch was still not evident on every throw, but Griffin did not make catching the ball harder for his receivers this week.
Sadly, some poor decisions protecting the ball eventually undermined Griffin's day. His interception was a terrible throw back in field as he was being chased out of bounds.
Later, Griffin dove for extra yardage at the end of what was already a long run and could not avoid a fumble. Both errors killed very promising drives and were, ultimately, the difference between winning and losing.
Alfred Morris: Grade B
Alfred Morris threatened to dominate the Detroit Lions throughout the game. He attacked the edges and cutback lanes on the zone stretch play with real vigour.
Morris displayed his usual brand of determined and bruising running. He also showcased his underrated acceleration, particularly on his 30-yard scamper around right tackle for his second touchdown of the season.
But even with that much good in his performance, Morris still cannot merit an "A." In fairness, that is not his fault.
He was simply underused, thanks to some bizarre decision-making from the coaching staff. Despite never trailing by a large number of points, the Redskins limited Morris' touches.
He finished with only 15 carries for 73 yards, on a day where he could have easily broken the 100-yard mark.
Roy Helu Jr.: Grade C
Speaking of underused, that barely does justice to the way the coaches are ignoring Roy Helu Jr. The Redskins are wasting the skills and versatility of a back who offers a natural change of pace to Morris.
Helu did tally three receptions for 35 yards and showed off some nifty moves and quickness in the process. But he was, once again, denied a carry in the running game.
It makes no sense at all to continually shun the opportunity to mix things up in the ground attack.
Jordan Reed: Grade B
Third-round pick Jordan Reed continued to show glimpses of his potential to be a playmaker in this offense. The athletic moves of this tight end helped him haul in five catches for 50 yards and showed coaches why he deserves more opportunities to impress.
Logan Paulsen: Grade B
Logan Paulsen, again, demonstrated that he is more than just the natural blocker of this tight end group. The bulky pass-catcher tallied four receptions for 51 yards.
With Reed and Paulsen looking this effective, normal starter Fred Davis may soon be the forgotten man in the rotation.
Santana Moss: Grade A
No matter how many are supposed to be ahead of him in the pecking order, veteran Santana Moss continues to impress. The 34-year-old, again, reminded everyone he is not ready to be supplanted as a key part of the Redskins passing game.
Moss made seven catches, including some grabs that turned bad throws into good ones. He finished with 77 yards and is fast becoming an invaluable target for Griffin.
Pierre Garcon: Grade A
Pierre Garcon produced a second solid performance in a row. He was not quite as productive as he was in Green Bay in Week 2, but Garcon still featured prominently in the passing game.
He hauled in eight passes for 73 yards, including a 27-yard gain, as he continues to display a knack for stretching the field.
Leonard Hankerson: Grade B
Often inconsistent youngster Leonard Hankerson is quietly becoming useful on third downs. Griffin looked his way more than once on football's so-called "money down" against the Lions.
Hankerson only tallied three catches for 21 yards, but he continues to develop an important role in the offense.
Joshua Morgan: Grade B
Joshua Morgan only caught two passes for 19 yards, but he did some fine work blocking for the run on more than one occasion.
Trent Williams: Grade D
It is hard to be anything but negative about Trent Williams' performance. The hulking left tackle surrendered a pair of sacks to Lions' rookie rush end Ezekiel Ansah.
He also failed to adequately corral Willie Young. Despite some decent work in the running game, it was a rough afternoon for Williams.
Kory Lichtensteiger: Grade C
Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had the toughest assignment, matched up against the imposing Nick Fairley. Overall, Lichtensteiger stayed solid and was never completely overwhelmed by Fairley.
Will Montgomery: Grade D
Seeing center Will Montgomery bulldozed into the backfield is becoming too frequent a sight. The scrappy, but physically limited, pivot man found things tough against Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
Chris Chester: Grade F
Right guard Chris Chester endured a torrid time up against Suh. He was toyed with for most of the second half and simply could not compete with the strength of Detroit's interior line.
Tyler Polumbus: Grade C
Tyler Polumbus gets a positive grade for helping spring Morris for his long touchdown burst. Overall, the unheralded right tackle was far from the liability he is often accused of being.
Fullback Darrel Young suffered a similar fate to Helu. Despite being a fine receiver and underrated runner, Young was not used as an offensive weapon.
But he still merits a solid grade, thanks to some punishing efforts clearing the way for Morris. He also produced an awesome block in pass protection during the second quarter, obliterating a defensive end.
Considering how bad the special teams has been to start the season, Week 3 represented a solid overall performance. Improvements were most noticeable in the kicking game.
John Potter booted a pair of field goals, and punter Sav Rocca just about escaped a third nightmare performance in a row.
Sadly, things were still not as solid in the return game. Rookie Chris Thompson continues to struggle establishing a niche as a return specialist, particularly from punts.
Morgan gamely attempted to improve things from kickoffs, but in all honesty, he fared little better than Thompson.
Barry Cofield: Grade D
Nose tackle Barry Cofield was solid, at times, but he did not make a significant impact against either the run or the pass. Cofield needs to spend more time behind the line of scrimmage.
Chris Neild: Grade D
Chris Neild subbed for Cofield, but struggled to get into the backfield to stuff running plays and pressure the passer.
Stephen Bowen: Grade F
What exactly is wrong with Stephen Bowen? He was the team's best defensive end in 2011 and 2012, but has been anonymous during the first three games of this season.
Kedric Golston: Grade F
Kedric Golston has never been a linemen associated with splash plays. But the veteran still has to be more involved in games than he has been so far.
Phillip Merling: Grade F
Like all of his fellow D-linemen, Phillip Merling failed to generate even a hint of pressure on the pocket, nor could he make himself a factor stopping the run.
London Fletcher: Grade C
It was easy to feel sorry for London Fletcher against the Lions. The 38-year-old gave everything he had to try and push the Redskins to their first win of the season.
Sadly though, his aging body could not do it all. Fletcher bounced off bowling-ball runner Joique Bell more than once, but stayed determined to key an improvement for this woeful defense.
If only everyone on the unit shared Fletcher's spirit.
Perry Riley Jr.: Grade D
Perry Riley Jr. went missing against the run for most of the game. He was also a virtual non-entity against the pass. Riley did not get near Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on the blitz, but he did at least knock one of his throws away in coverage.
Riley has the talent to make many more impact plays than he does. It is time for 2010's fourth-round pick to deliver.
Ryan Kerrigan: Grade C
Ryan Kerrigan was in on seven combined stops and deflected a pass in coverage. He also provided the pressure on Stafford that contributed to DeAngelo Hall's interception and touchdown in the opening quarter.
What marred Kerrigan's day was a less-than-convincing display tackling Bell and some lapses in coverage.
Brian Orakpo: Grade D
It is getting harder to believe Brian Orakpo can be the impact pass-rusher his talent seems to merit. He again posed only a tame threat to Stafford, who was able to pass for 385 yards, partly because of inconsistent pressure.
Orakpo has to show he can take over games, or this defense will continue to suffer.
Nick Barnett: Grade D
Veteran Nick Barnett only saw limited action and was unable to prove he deserves more opportunities.
DeAngelo Hall: Grade D
DeAngelo Hall's habit for producing turnovers and points continued, as he snared Stafford's errant first-quarter pass and ran it in for six.
However, the rest of Hall's day was not as enjoyable. He ultimately floundered in his attempts to contain dominant flanker Calvin Johnson.
Hall had two nice pass breakups, but Johnson still got free to catch seven passes for 115 yards, including the decisive touchdown.
David Amerson: Grade D
Rookie David Amerson is experiencing a tough introduction to life in the pros. His struggles continued against the Lions, despite some encouraging moments.
Amerson broke up a pair of passes by smartly using his length and athleticism. But he was also victimized by a host of receivers, including veteran Nate Burleson.
Josh Wilson: Grade D
Josh Wilson played almost like a hybrid safety for most of the game against the Lions. He was regularly aligned close to the line of scrimmage and asked to cover slot receivers.
Like the rest of the secondary, Wilson spent too much time trailing pass-catchers and looking lost in coverage.
Brandon Meriweather: Grade D
The fact that Brandon Meriweather led the Redskins in tackles, despite another abysmal showing, is a reflection of the poor job done up front.
Meriweather may have been in on nine tackles, including seven solo stops, but he missed as many more. The reckless veteran was also frequently culpable in coverage.
The Redskins have let the safety position decline for too long. That Meriweather is considered their primary choice only emphasizes the decline.
Mike Shanahan: Grade D
Head coach Mike Shanahan needs to re-establish an identity on offense. But he must also stress fundamentals to a defense that is ignoring the basics.
Perhaps the biggest concern for Shanahan is his team's lack of discipline and penchant for mistakes. He faces a tough task correcting this plethora of issues and still salvaging the season.
Kyle Shanahan: Grade D
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan deserves some credit for getting Griffin on the move again. The bootlegs and play-action passes made Griffin a more effective quarterback.
But Shanahan was at fault for the run-pass balance, or more to the point, the lack of balance. There was no credible reason for Griffin to throw 50 passes.
Shanahan needs to add more variety to his running game and prevent teams from simply ganging up on Morris.
Jim Haslett: Grade F
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is in his fourth season in Washington and has still failed to produce a solid 3-4 defense. Granted, an insistence on the 3-4 scheme has always seemed like an indulgence from Shanahan.
The head coach is also guilty of not providing Haslett with the best talent. It would take a true genius coordinator to mask the holes in this secondary.
However, that does not excuse the repeated failings of Haslett's unit to tackle, nor does it explain why every offense he faces seems to outsmart his defensive schemes.
Shanahan and his coaches need to establish a firm identity on both sides of the ball—preferably before they make the trip to Oakland to take on the Raiders in Week 4.