After the controversial moves that Mike Shanahan made during the offseason, retooling and rethinking the Washington Redskins on both offense and defense, gone were many of the well known names on both sides of the ball, replaced by a slew of new players from around the league.
Although there is league-wide doubt about these personnel changes (Rex Grossman at quarterback seemed like a poor idea), it seems thus far that Shanahan’s tinkering has paid off.
The Redskins have been a surprising power in the competitive NFC East thus far.
Today, the Redskins faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles in a divisional confrontation with huge implications for both teams.
The Eagles are struggling to show the world that they are for real and that their high-powered offseason acquisitions can be as dangerous on the field as they are on paper.
The Redskins needed to come out of their bye week strong to prove that their 3-1 record wasn’t a fluke. Against the Eagles, they were not able to achieve success towards this end.
Over the next nine slides, we will review observations about the Redskins’ play during their 20-13 loss to the Eagles.
Several 15-yard defensive penalties on key Eagles downs demonstrated a lack of discipline that hurt the Redskins badly.
In divisional rivalries, emotions run high. That is part of the game. The players have got to learn how to control that extra adrenaline, though, and the Redskins failed in that quest today.
That’s not to mention the other penalties that the Redskins racked up throughout the game, including one delay of game that knocked them out of field goal range in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles ran all over the Redskins’ defense throughout the game, accumulating a whopping 192 yards on the ground when all was said and done. LeSean McCoy had a fantastic day, accounting for 126 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Fortunately for Washington, the defense was eventually able to tighten things up on the front line to stem the bleeding during the second half.
Even though the Redskins’ offense didn’t do their defense any favors, the defense was gradually able to adjust to the Eagles’ attack.
Containing the high-octane offense led by Michael Vick is no easy feat when the Eagles are rolling, which they were during this matchup.
Instead of giving up and allowing the blowout to happen, the Redskins defense was able to make two consecutive stops in the red zone, holding the Eagles to a pair of field goals.
He ran into nothing but trouble today.
Granted, Ryan Torain only had 10 carries, but with an average of 2.2 yards per carry and a longest run of six yards, it’s no surprise that the Redskins quickly moved away from their running game.
Coupled with the fact that the Redskins were playing from behind for the vast majority of the game, it seems as though the run game was doomed from the beginning in this matchup.
“Off day” may be putting it kindly. Rex Grossman may have been a surprisingly positive acquisition for the Redskins at quarterback, but he really struggled during the first half.
With a quarterback rating of 17.3 during the first half, it seemed as though Grossman’s poor play helped the Redskins dig themselves a hole they would have a difficult time climbing out of.
In the second half, Grossman’s defense handed him ample opportunity to work his team back into the game. No matter how hard the defense worked, Grossman could not keep the ball moving in the right direction.
He was pulled out of the game early in the fourth quarter, which was for the ultimate benefit of his team. The only surprise is that Mike Shanahan didn’t see fit to pull him after the third interception.
As always, turnovers can make or break a game for both teams. After all, a turnover not only takes points off the board for your team, but also gives the opposition an opportunity to put up points for themselves.
The Redskins turned the ball over to the Eagles four times, and the Eagles capitalized on some of those gifts with points.
Although the Eagles returned the favor with a pair of turnovers to the Redskins, the ‘Skins were not able to put points on the board for their team. That was one of the biggest differences in the game.
Rex Grossman’s poor numbers cannot be entirely blamed on poor play. It takes two to complete a pass in the NFL, and the Redskins’ wide receiving corps did not rise to the occasion.
Throughout the game, the quarterback would deliver catchable balls to his wide receivers, only to find themselves throwing from the same spot on the next down.
Running back Ryan Torain was perhaps the most obvious culprit, but the dropped balls were a systemic problem for the entire team.
Maybe John Beck wasn’t quite a hero when he came into the game. He made his share of mistakes on the field.
That being said, though, Beck was able to do something that Rex Grossman was not able to do: lead the offense into the end zone. He put a touchdown on the board for the struggling Redskins offense late in the fourth quarter to bring them back into the game.
By the end of the first half, Washington had accumulated a grand total of six first downs, compared to 15 by the Eagles. The imbalanced time of possession reflected this discrepancy.
At the end of the day, the Redskins had collected a few more first downs, but they remained unable to hang on to the ball for more than a couple of minutes at a time.
That was the key factor that resulted in the Redskins’ loss. They weren’t able to stay on the field offensively to score points, as shown in the teams' lopsided times of possession at the end of the game.