Clouds and rain greeted the DMV sunrise on a chilly, Monday morning. The weather was dreary – almost brooding – and seemed to mirror the mood of the town.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Washington Redskins completed their latest debacle: a demoralizing, 27-23 loss to their hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
There are fewer events worse for a city’s morale than an NFL loss. Spoken tones are more hushed than usual. Coats are drawn a little tighter. People have one less drink at the bar and walk at a brisker pace to their cars. The stench of losing hangs in the air like foul perfume.
Through two games, the Redskins have done little to relieve that foul odor, which is emanating from Landover, Maryland. Incidentally, both losses have occurred there, on home turf.
Football is a team sport, and reasons abound for the defeats. But, while the offense has looked out of sync, the defense has been absolutely atrocious. The Steelers wiped the floor, but at least you could see a clear talent gap, on the field.
With all due respect to the Cowboys, the players they ran out there, yesterday, were a far cry from the Big Bens and DeAngelo Williams’ of the world.
Behind center for Dallas were rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. It was as good a time as any for the Redskins to roll out some exotic looks and take advantage of the Cowboys’ inexperience.
They got a little pressure on Prescott, sacking him four times. Trent Murphy led the way with three QB hits (including 1.5 sacks).
Still, the Cowboys were able to drive the ball, giving the Redskins fits in the short-to-intermediate passing game. The Skins’ defense has been especially anemic against such plays, this season. Check out this blown coverage on a first-quarter, Cowboys drive:
The seemingly-innocent play begins with the entire Redskins d-line biting on the play-action, leaving a gaping hole on the left side of the field. Number 94, Preston Smith, lets tight end Jason Witten blow by him.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (number 23) takes a similarly-terrible angle on the play and has to sprint to catch up as the 34 year old tight end sprints down the sideline.
Later, on a fourth and one play, the Redskins elected to send the house in on Prescott. On their rush to the backfield, Terrence Garvin (52) and Chris Baker (92) blow by rookie Cowboys tight end, Geoff Swaim (87), who is releasing to the right side.
In this play, Witten (82) acts not as a receiver but as a pick against Smith (94). Meanwhile, safety David Bruton Jr. (30) fails to read the developing play and gets caught flat-footed.
By the time he recovers, Swaim is off and running with the ball. And, what should have been a turnover on downs became a 30 yard gain.
Blown assignments weren’t the only malaise plaguing the Skins defense, Sunday. Missed tackles turned short gains into big plays, such as this third quarter Zeke run.
Elliott (21) gets to the edge, with the help of some savage blocking.
Will Compton (51) takes a poor angle and completely whiffs, while Elliott scampers for a 20-yard gain.
The Cowboys weren’t better than the Redskins, they just played it smarter. Their offense took what was given to them. On Sunday, that was a lot.