‘Disappointment, frustration, sadness’ as Redskins fall short once again, drop to last in East
PHILADELPHIA | One last chance at glory lost, Robert Griffin III retreated to the Washington Redskins’ sideline, his aimless wander reflective of the lifelessness his team put forward most of Sunday afternoon.
The Redskins had, once again, failed to make something out of the few opportunities they had, displaying a mystifying inability to correct the ills that plague them. Griffin sauntered toward the bench, the final seconds of the Redskins’ 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles ticking away behind him, with a gaze demonstrating complete bafflement that everything continues to go so wrong so quickly.
What was once a season that could have been truly special is in increasing danger of being remembered for the wrong reasons. With another loss, their seventh in their first 10 games, the Redskins have not only established themselves as the worst team in their division, but they have seemingly done so with a litany of issues they cannot manage to correct.
“The feeling is just disappointment, frustration, sadness,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Hell, I felt like I was about to cry on the sidelines, man. I just don’t understand where we’re falling apart, you know?”
Until the fourth quarter, when the Redskins managed to show some signs of life, they appeared headed toward what would have ranked as the worst loss in three-plus seasons under head coach Mike Shanahan. They had just four net passing yards at the end of the first half, when they were outscored 17-0, and had no answer for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles — a player who, just last year, looked skittish and lacked confidence in his two games against them.
Foles, making his fifth start in six games for injured quarterback Michael Vick, picked apart the Redskins defense in the first half. Despite his lack of quickness, he masterfully guided the zone-read option, a pillar of the Eagles’ offense, and paced his teammates with a healthy vertical passing game.
Three weeks ago, the Redskins entered a stretch of games that seemed, for the first time, entirely winnable. They returned from a road trip to Denver on Oct. 27 with the perception that they needed to win at least two of their next three games to remain solidly in contention in the NFC East — including the one against the Eagles, who entered Sunday with a hold on first place in the division.
Instead, they answered a late collapse in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 7 with what could kindly be considered a poor start. The Eagles, who soundly thrashed the Redskins
still confident. All the tired, empty phrases losing teams trot out that make for pleasant sound bytes and don’t mean anything.
Instead of answers, Trent Williams accused a game official of directing a stream of obscenities at him. After last week’s loss to the Vikings in Minneapolis, multiple players complained about the referees, too.
Never mind that the Redskins were flagged for only four penalties Sunday. Never mind, too, that Williams’ angry words sidestepped the festering issue of Griffin’s protection. The Eagles contacted the quarterback to the turf 13 times, including four sacks and repeated shots that hurt to watch.
Griffin’s frequent scrambles for his life helped to neuter any attempt to throw the ball in the first half against the NFL’s second-worst pass defense. The Redskins managed four net yards passing in the half. Yes, four.
Yet Williams complained about officiating.
Instead of answers, Griffin barked at officials after a failed drive in the third quarter and waved his arms as he pleaded for a flag on another play.
Instead of answers, Brian Orakpo performed his post-sack dance after pulling down Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in the second quarter. Orakpo’s team trailed 24-0. Yet he danced.
This, for better or (mostly) worse, is Redskins football.
In a small room near the locker room, Mike Shanahan gripped the sides of a podium and directed his piercing gaze at the dirty gray carpet. The coach didn’t make eye contact as he answered questions. An untouched bottle of water rested next to his right hand.
Shanahan’s words were familiar, too. We’ve heard this news conference. We’ve read these explanations from the coach in the fourth season of a five-year contract. Take your pick of this season’s debacles and the post-mortem is the same.
They had a great week of practice. When haven’t they?
They want to keep improving. Did the flurry of missed tackles — even taking the easy path to blame LeSean McCoy’s shifty running — look like improvement? Did the special teams errors — like new return man Nick Williams muffing one punt and allowing another to go before it stopped after 70 yards — look like improvement?
They need to play a full 60 minutes. Why is that gamelong focus still a problem 2 1⁄2 months into the season with the NFL’s second-oldest 53-man roster?
They kept competing. They fought hard. They almost pulled the game out. They didn’t take advantage of opportunities.
Throw out all the cliches you want. Shanahan did. They can’t obscure the ugly result against the mediocre Eagles and their former backup quarterback who looked more like an All-Pro against the Redskins. They can’t obscure that sport’s ultimate measure, wins and losses, says the Redskins aren’t close to as good of football team as they may think.
Sure, the Griffin-directed comeback with the 16-point fourth quarter will be held up as the latest sign that better days are ahead, that, somehow, one of these days the Redskins will step onto the field and — poof! — be transformed into an upper-division football team.