The Redskins had every opportunity to beat the New York Jets at Fed Ex Field Sunday, but gacked it away with a series of mistakes and blunders. From top to bottom, every part of the team shares in the dispiriting loss.
The Skins opened the game with a convincing 80+ yard drive that culminated in a Roy Helu touchdown. Washington deftly mixed runs and passes, and offered up a tweaked ground attack that New York never quite solved. The toss right/left play was a fast-developing, hard-hitting play that was a welcome change from the slow-developing stretch plays Washington has featured all season.
After riding the balanced offensive attack to solid drives and 10 points, the coaching staff inexplicably called for 14 passes in 16 plays. Despite the fact that Washington was running the ball effectively. Despite the fact that New York's defensive strength is its pass defense.
Before I go on a lengthy rant, let's look at the Skins-Jets contest through the prism of the 5 factors I identified in the game preview:
- Grindhouse -- The numbers suggested Washington could have success running the ball against the Jets, and they did just that. Heavy use of the pitch sweeps was a wrinkle the Skins hadn't used this season. The success of that play FINALLY puts something on film that opposing defenses have to think about. That should help open things up in other areas for the Skins' offense. Ultimately, the only thing that stopped Washington's ground attack was its own play calling.
- Aerial Attack -- Entering the game, I wanted the Skins to establish the run so the team could use play-action and help Rex Grossman. That worked in the early going -- until the team abandoned the run. After that, Grossman was awful. He had his usual two turnovers, but it could easily have been five.
- Don't Be Fooled -- The pass protection hasn't been as good as a superficial look at the sack numbers might suggest, and yesterday's game was ample evidence of that truth. Grossman had time to throw at times, but was heavily rushed at others. He had to simply throw the ball at receivers' feet at least four times to avoid big losses. Washington's deficient pass protection gets exposed because of Grossman's immobility. And, with Trent Williams facing suspension after testing positive for marijuana, it's going to get worse.
- An Interception Waiting to Happen -- Grossman comes pre-installed with 2 turnovers per game. While he largely avoided the face-palm interceptions of earlier in the year, he lost a fumble and threw a late interception. The Jets could easily have had another 2-3 interceptions if they'd just been able to corral tipped balls. Thing is: Grossman's turnovers weren't a critical factor. The play-calling, inaccuracy in the passing game, and fourth-quarter defensive breakdowns hurt more.
- Depleted Secondary -- Washington's battered defensive backfield largely held its own against the Jets. Mark Sanchez had a pedestrian game, and none of the receivers had a monster game. Washington's defense was good enough to win -- if the Skins had come into the game with a sensible game plan.