The Detroit Lions came to Washington with a looming 21-game losing streak hanging over their head. But thanks to big games from Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Joique Bell starting in place of the injured Reggie Bush, the Redskins couldn't quite hang with the Lions, losing the game 27-20 and falling to 0-3 on the year.
Here's my six-pack of notes from yesterday's game.
1. Was that RG3's best game of the year?
Strictly as a passer? Yes, yesterday was Robert Griffin III's best game throwing the football through three weeks. He looked as confident as we've seen him, he moved well in the pocket, his velocity returned and his accuracy was obviously far greater than in previous weeks.
As a complete quarterback, however, Griffin is still working his way back.
It was great to see him escape the pocket and show some speed, albeit less than what we're accustomed to, but the mental errors from Griffin on Sunday were a matter of focus and continuing to work himself into the fold.
Steps toward improvement? Absolutely. Still a short ways to go? Very much so.
2. Lots of people will bash Kyle Shanahan
That's a guess for the midday airwaves around Washington a day after the Redskins lose a game and Alfred Morris only gets 15 carries.
For me, I didn't have a problem with the offensive play-calling. I thought a couple plays in certain spots were questionable, but I didn't have an issue with the Redskins' balance.
The game is situational, and you adjust as needed. When Morris gains a yard on first down and the Redskins face 2nd-and-long, going pass for the next two downs doesn't seem all that crazy.
Many will say Morris averaged 4.9 yards per carry, so why only 15 carries? But without his 30-yard touchdown run, Morris is averaging just three yards per carry.
For the first half, including his 30-yard score, Morris has seven carries for 47 yards. In the second half, seven carries for 16 yards.
I know Morris is a momentum based runner, but would people be that much more satisfied with the Redskins' offensive balance had the running back gone 20 carries for 91 yards? 25 carries for 106?
Better yet, would anyone even mention offensive balance had the Redskins won the game?
3. Jordan Reed is way ahead.
When Mike Shanahan pulled the trigger and drafted this guy in the third round, some questioned the decision. But after just three games, it's easy to see why coaches loved him so much.
Reed is a natural athlete and pass catcher. He's fluid, has great hands and can make plays after the catch.
And there's a reason he's playing over Fred Davis.
4. Improvement on third down.
The Redskins were 6-of-13 on third down yesterday, marking a substantial improvement from their previous two games.
They faced an average of seven yards to go, all of which were attempted pass conversions.
5. Grilled mistakes, with a side of mistakes.
Aside from penalties, the Redskins' mistakes yesterday cost them points.
- Early in the second quarter, Robert Griffin III rolls right, being chased by a defender. He approaches the sideline and, rather than tossing the ball out of bounds, Griffin darts a pass down the sideline and into the hands of Lions defensive back Chris Houston. The Redskins were on the Lions 19-yard line. The interception cost the Redskins at least three points.
- Early in the fourth quarter, Robert Griffin III escapes the pocket on first down and takes off up the middle for 21 yards down to the Detroit 29-yard line. But instead of sliding feet first, Griffin dives head first and untouched, fumbles (the only time the ground actually can cause the fumble), and the Lions recover. Even if the Redskins were to setup on first down from the Lions 29-yard line and not move forward ten yards, that's at least another three points left on the field.
- With just over 11 minutes in the fourth quarter, Griffin drops back and hurls a bomb to a streaking Aldrick Robinson. The pass is perfect and on the money for a 57-yard touchdown score, but Robinson can't retain possession on his way down in the end zone and the pass is ruled incomplete. The next play Griffin recovers his own fumble in the backfield, then three yards on a 3rd-and-20, and eventually a punt on 4th-and-17.
Drops and turnovers are obviously part of the game, but the Redskins leaving at least 13 points on the field could have been easily avoided by way of better decision-making and better focus.
6. And that defense.
Believe it or not, despite two Lions receivers going over 100 yards receiving and Matthew Stafford tossing for nearly 400 yards, yesterday's game was the Redskins' best outing this season on defense.
That said, tackling remains a huge concern, Brian Orakpo hasn't shown enough through three weeks, and the secondary can't be trusted.
DeAngelo Hall had a good game, given his matchup against Megatron. He was also responsible for six points with an interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Rookie safety Bacarri Rambo left the game early with an injury and Josh Wilson filled in for him. That might have actually been an okay thing. The All-22 film should help.
Weekly Optimism: It's only three games into the season, and we all know the Redskins (nearly this same exact team) are capable of getting inspired and rattling off seven wins in a row.
Weekly Gloom: Next week will be labeled a must-win game in Oakland, and this defense isn't anywhere near where the Redskins need it be, given the offense and Griffin reacquainting himself.