Kansas City Chiefs vs. Washington Redskins: Full Roster Grades for Washington
As has so often been the case during their nightmare season, the Redskins were hindered most by woeful performances from the offensive line and special teams.
Here are the full report-card grades for Washington after yet another heavy defeat.
Robert Griffin III endured another tough afternoon blighted by inconsistent play. He threw his 12th interception of the season and missed several open receivers.
Those gaffes offset some quick and accurate throws under pressure. Griffin wasn't helped by continuing serious issues in protection, but his mechanics still need major improvement.
Just like his quarterback, Alfred Morris wasn't helped by struggles up-front. That meant a second straight dismal performance for the team's leading rusher.
Morris was frequently met in the backfield by Chiefs defenders breaking through weak blocks. He often had to hesitate and adjust early in runs.
Another heavy deficit meant Morris was used sparingly after the opening quarter. So was Roy Helu Jr., who had just one rushing attempt.
If one unit on the team could make a case for even an average grade, it would be the wide receivers. The group was pretty active, with Aldrick Robinson and Pierre Garcon combining for nine receptions.
Even veterans Santana Moss and Joshua Morgan chipped in, albeit briefly. The problem is that nobody was able to get behind the Chiefs secondary.
Aside from a 30-yard catch and run by Robinson, no other receiver managed to escape for a big play or stretch the field.
While wide receivers were mostly kept under wraps, it was the tight ends who got free for big gains. Both Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul recorded catches of 25 yards or more.
Paulsen even managed to score the team's only touchdown, snaring a Griffin pass with a one-handed grab. But while his receiving was solid, Paulsen struggled as a blocker, as did Paul.
Neither managed to keep members of Kansas City's front seven or additional blitzers at bay.
The offensive line was once again atrocious and the main reason for the team's failure to move the ball. The problems were clear in every area, from straight-line protection, to blitz pickup and even stretch blocking in the running game.
Right tackle Tyler Polumbus suffered through another horror show. Defensive end Tyson Jackson got around him for two sacks.
But it wasn't only Polumbus who struggled. The interior trio couldn't cope with nose tackle Dontari Poe, while left tackle Trent Williams was overwhelmed by outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
The defensive line again failed to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was often not hit until he had waltzed through the Washington defensive front.
End Jarvis Jenkins made five combined stops but didn't produce negative plays. Nose tackle Barry Cofield couldn't create any push in the middle or pressure on quarterback Alex Smith.
This group needs a more dynamic playmaker this offseason.
The linebackers were certainly active in Week 14, but produced little meaningful impact. Ryan Kerrigan led the way with eight combined tackles, while fellow outside 'backer Brian Orakpo contributed seven stops.
But neither of the defense's bookend pass-rushers registered a sack or even got close to Smith. On the inside, London Fletcher made his share of tackles, but many of them were against runners who had already made big gains.
Perry Riley Jr. was quiet most of the day but did notch the unit's only turnover, snatching an interception in the second half.
Although the Chiefs only accumulated 154 yards passing, they seemed to find big plays through the air whenever they needed them.
That's because no member of the secondary was physical enough to take receivers like Dwayne Bowe out of the game. The Washington defensive backs were pushed around by Bowe and called into run support too often, thanks to the feeble play of the front seven.
Just when it seemed safe to assume the special teams couldn't get any worse, the unit hit a new low in Week 14. Coordinator Keith Burns' group surrendered 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the return game.
That the Chiefs were superior in every area is not in dispute. But they would not have beaten the Redskins by 35 points without the contrasting fortunes on special teams.
The Redskins have been abysmal in this phase of the game since the season began. But it was still particularly disturbing to see what amounted to a lack of effort against the Chiefs.
Niles Paul directly referenced effort, or the absence of it, as a problem, via The Washington Post's Mark Maske:
I’m not a starter on this team. My role is largely playing on special teams. So I take pride in [how] I played and what I do on special teams. And people can blame and say it’s a coach thing. But it’s not a coaching thing. It’s an effort thing and it’s from each player, each individual. Eleven people out there have to want to make a tackle, have to want to make a play, have to want to make a block. And that’s not happening right now and that’s why we are terrible on special teams.
Paul's view is a credible one, and the perceived lack of effort is evident in every phase of the team. It is a direct result of the mess at the top.
Mike Shanahan can get the latest excuses ready, but this time, they shouldn't wash with even his most ardent supporters. He was thoroughly outcoached by his opposite number, Andy Reid.
Shanahan's team yet again played with no discipline and lacked a coherent plan on either side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett had nothing new to show the Chiefs, while offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan couldn't counter the Kansas City blitz schemes.
Coordinators have been failing for a while, but their direction comes from the top. The elder Shanahan has made decisions that have hamstrung this team and then tried to shift the blame.
It seems even the players are no longer fooled by this duplicity, according to Fox NFL insider Mike Garafolo. The writing is on the wall for Shanahan, with CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora even suggesting Griffin's ex-college coach Art Briles will be targeted to succeed him:
The success of Philadelphia's Chip Kelly -- literally a few hours down I-95 from Washington -- adopting his offense quickly at the pro level has not been lost on Snyder. And at a time when other top college candidates like Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and David Shaw (Stanford) are pretty much bound to their schools, and in a year devoid of many "hot coordinators" at the pro level, the options could be limited.
While the links with Briles may be a little too convenient, given his obvious connection to Griffin, this team needs to rid itself of Shanahan and the myriad of turmoil that surrounds him.