Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Roster Grades for Washington
Solid grades at the skill positions cannot mask low marks yet again for the Washington Redskins offensive line and special teams. Those two porous units were chiefly responsible for the 31-16 Week 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The O-line prevented the ground game from getting on track and regularly put quarterback Robert Griffin III at risk. Speaking of Griffin, the dual-threat ace showed glimpses of the best of his playmaking talent.
But even Griffin could not avoid his share of mistakes in an error-filled team performance. He might have found things easier if his receivers had done more to stretch the Dallas defense.
As for Washington's defense, the unit produced a determined effort, but did not make enough stops in clutch situations. The grades for the group's key players reflect this.
Overall, a below-par performance yields below-par report grades for the Redskins roster.
Robert Griffin III put together an accomplished performance, but was ultimately asked to do too much. His passing was quick and decisive, but his movement skills provided the most encouragement.
Griffin proved adept enough as a runner to encourage head coach Mike Shanahan to reintroduce elements of the read-option attack that worked so well in 2012.
Unfortunately, Griffin did not receive the support of the consistent running game that usually sets up many of his big plays off play-action passing.
That and increasing pressure forced Griffin into poor throws later on. But despite those issues there were more positives in Griffin's performance than negatives.
Pierre Garcon: Grade C
Six catches for 69 yards does not mask Pierre Garcon's largely indifferent performance. He was victimized by press coverage from Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr.
Despite being a similar size to Carr, Garcon won none of the physical battles and faded from the game too easily.
Consistent effort is always an issue with Garcon. As the team's leading receiver, the veteran has to do more to get open and take over games.
Santana Moss: Grade D
Given his history of tormenting the Cowboys, it was strange to see Santana Moss have so little impact. It did not help that he was hardly targeted.
The 34-year-old still has the ability and savvy to make plays at every level of a defense but is being wasted by the coaching staff.
Leonard Hankerson: Grade D
Leonard Hankerson can't have many more opportunities left to show he can deliver on his obvious potential. The big-bodied wideout was as guilty as Garcon for failing to gain separation on the outside.
He also reverted to his nasty habit of dropping passes. Hankerson hardly cemented his case to be a regular starter.
Joshua Morgan: Grade F
Joshua Morgan caught only one pass for a gain of just six yards. He played a part trying to block for the run, but was hardly an asset in that area either.
Alfred Morris: Grade D
Alfred Morris scored on a 45-yard run, but gained just 36 yards on 15 other carries. He was felled for little or no yards too often early in the game.
Granted, Morris was not helped by some pitiful blocking in front of him. But that does not entirely obscure a somewhat tame effort from last season's rushing sensation.
Roy Helu Jr.: Grade D
Once again Roy Helu Jr. was given some carries too late to make a real difference in the game. He gained 42 yards on six attempts and also chipped in with 35 yards receiving.
But Helu had some of his best runs when the game was out of reach, as the Redskins wasted another opportunity to unleash one of their best playmakers when it mattered.
Darrel Young is another player who should get an expanded role in the offense. His underrated skills as both a runner and receiver are being ignored too often.
When he did receive a carry, Young powered his way for 19 yards, but he did not feature as part of the passing attack.
Young was also less than his usual brutal self blocking for the run.
In a season already littered with poor displays, this was the worst performance yet by the offensive line. The group was overwhelmed by a thin defensive line rotation.
In particular, the middle of the pocket routinely collapsed. Penetration wrecked the running game, while a strong inside push kept Griffin trapped.
At the moment, this line is ruining every phase of the Redskins offense.
Jordan Reed: Grade B
Jordan Reed was the only Redskins tight end to make an impact in the passing game. In fact, the ultra-athletic rookie made a very good start, but too quickly became an afterthought in the game plan.
Reed made four catches for 58 yards. He showed off wide receiver-like movement skills to beat coverage and gain yards after the catch.
But Reed was soon ignored by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, even though he had threatened to be a consistent nuisance for the Dallas defense.
There are few negative phrases left to be applied to the special teams. The floundering unit surrendered two huge returns to Dwayne Harris that swung the game away from the Redskins.
There was also room for a missed field goal and some barely average returns to go along with the dreadful coverage.
Coordinator Keith Burns is presiding over a unit that cannot master the basics and lacks the talent to try some new ideas to get on track.
Barry Cofield: Grade D
After dominating the Raiders in Oakland, Barry Cofield was kept quiet in Week 6. The focal point of Washington's 3-4 defense failed to generate much of a push inside.
He was also far from his usual threatening self as a pass-rusher.
Stephen Bowen: Grade C
Ex-Cowboy Stephen Bowen was solid against the run, but like Cofield, he was a non-factor against the pass. He struggled to generate pressure whenever the defense switched to a four-man front.
Kedric Golston: Grade D
Kedric Golston could not make an impact play against either the run or the pass.
Chris Baker: Grade D
Like Golston, Chris Baker could not get behind the line of scrimmage and make a meaningful play.
London Fletcher: Grade B
Aging leader London Fletcher was an active force against the Cowboys. He made eight combined stops and remained smart and stable in coverage.
Fletcher may be slowing, but he is still invaluable to this defense.
Perry Riley Jr.: Grade B
Perry Riley Jr. was a more attacking foil for Fletcher's steady performance. He was a feature of the blitz schemes and one of the keys to an aggressive run defense that limited the Cowboys to just 48 yards on the ground.
Ryan Kerrigan: Grade D
Sadly for Fletcher and Riley, they received next to no help from the outside linebackers. Ryan Kerrigan made only two tackles and was a non-factor on the pass rush.
Rob Jackson: Grade D
Rob Jackson went missing against the run and as a pass-rusher. But he did at least show that he still has a knack for producing turnovers.
In his first game back from suspension, Jackson snatched an interception. Hopefully his flair for playmaking will prove valuable in the coming weeks.
Brian Orakpo: Grade F
Brian Orakpo is supposed to be this defense's star pass-rusher. That is the theory at least, but Orakpo was barely able offer a reminder he was even on the field in Dallas.
He drew a blank as a pass-rusher and run defender. Yes, Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith is a highly accomplished player, but Orakpo is supposed to belong in that bracket.
That claim won't be credible much longer.
DeAngelo Hall: Grade B
It is easy to target DeAngelo Hall when he fails to back up his trash talking with the performances to match. Thankfully, he did exactly that in Dallas.
Hall was tasked with covering Dez Bryant, who is as inconsistent as he is talented. In fairness, Hall gave Bryant little room to make an impact.
He closed on the ball every time quarterback Tony Romo dared to throw his way.
Josh Wilson: Grade C
Josh Wilson was a key figure from the slot and for the most part was solid in coverage. He also made four tackles and featured on several fire zone blitzes.
However, it was Wilson's failure to close on Romo from a blitz that led to a key scoring pass to wide receiver Terrance Williams.
David Amerson: Grade D
Rookie David Amerson began the game being flagged for holding. He ended it leaving early after a suffering a concussion.
It was another tough night for the team's top draft pick who is finding life difficult in the pros.
E.J. Biggers: Grade F
E.J. Biggers filled in for Amerson as an extra corner and his only meaningful contribution was trailing Williams on his scoring catch.
Reed Doughty: Grade C
The safeties were not called into action often. What running game the Cowboys could muster was snuffed out by the front seven and the cornerbacks made all the plays in coverage.
Still, given how badly they've played this season, not seeing much of the Redskins safeties is probably a good thing. In that context, Reed Doughty was as quietly solid as anyone in the secondary.
Brandon Meriweather: Grade C
Brandon Meriweather was not his usual reckless self, and that rates as an improvement over recent games.
Jose Gumbs: Grade D
Jose Gumbs did not have many snaps to make a positive contribution and push for future playing time in a weak rotation.
Mike Shanahan: Grade F
The head coach was guilty of some appalling clock management near the end of the first half. But more worrying is how Mike Shanahan is overseeing a team that seems to lack a clear plan on either side of the ball.
He is also struggling to fix the problem with penalties and missed assignments. Shanahan's era has often looked like a series of knee-jerk measures and cobbled together ideas rather than a coherent approach to team building.
That ill-judged pattern is starting to show, and so is the strain on the struggling coach.
Kyle Shanahan: Grade D
In many ways, this game summed up the good and bad of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. At times he called some well-designed individual plays.
But these snapshots of ingenuity did not form part of a clear plan. This is still an offense that lacks a true identity and the young Shanahan often seems content to continue relying on gadget plays and individual brilliance.
His run-pass ratio is a prime example. With a quarterback fresh off major knee surgery and a line better suited to blocking for the run, why not lean on the rushing attack?
Yet it seems the Shanahans are more keen to get Griffin up to speed and develop him as a passer, even if it might not be helping the team to win now.
Jim Haslett: Grade C
For once, Jim Haslett's defense was not directly at fault for a Redskins loss. As he so often does, Haslett took his chances with the blitz, although that was not the worst tactic against Romo.
His fire zone schemes fooled the Cowboys passer into more than one bad throw. Ultimately though, Haslett's group still yielded 24 points, but were often the victims of poor field position.
There is plenty for the coaches to get right before Week 7 and time is rapidly running out to try to rescue a season allowed to go horribly awry.