The Redskins 30-13 loss to the Chargers was not surprising. The Chargers are streaking having won seven of their last nine games. What was surprising was how soundly the Redskins were beaten. Fixing this Redskins team will not be easy. The issues surrounding Washington are complex and stem deep within the organization.
The Redskins defense has struggled since a week nine win over the Seahawks. Following the win, Washington gave up 38 points to the Vikings and then 34 points to the Saints. The Redskins defensive performance against the Saints was particularly ugly. Washington had a 15-point lead with less than six minutes to go and could not hold on.
The Redskins defense bounced back against a depleted Giants team. Then the collapse began. The Redskins defense gave up 38 points to the Cowboys and 30 points to the Chargers. That is simply unacceptable.
The Redskins offense has not been much better. The unit opened up the Chargers game with a punt. On the following possession quarterback Kirk Cousins threw an interception on the first play of the drive. Meanwhile, Los Angeles scored 13 points on their opening three possessions putting Washington in an immediate hole.
Washington scored a touchdown on their third possession of the game. The following possessions were rough. Washington turned it over on downs followed by seven straight punts.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland scored the only other Redskins points. Late in the fourth quarter, Breeland pulled off of an impressive albeit ultimately meaningless interception and returned it for a touchdown.
Washington has a myriad of injuries, but that does not excuse the embarrassing performance the team put up against Los Angeles. Injuries do not justify a lack of effort.
Safety DJ Swearinger said part of the problem is the lack of preparation by some of his teammates and coaches.
D.J. Swearinger repeatedly said #Redskins didn’t prepare well and the outcome of the game wasn’t a shock to him.
“We out here practicing blah… It’s not surprising at all to me.” pic.twitter.com/49H3sMzZgg
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) December 11, 2017
Washington’s record does not help, but even the basement teams in the NFL show continual effort. The Cleveland Browns have not won a game this season yet have shown inspiring effort at times.
Perhaps it is a cultural problem in Washington. It starts with owner Dan Snyder who has built a culture of losing and making mistakes. Snyder among others are still not committed long-term to Cousins. Despite his poor performance against the Chargers, he is easily the Redskins best quarterback in decades. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has not been much better. He was mystified after the loss to the Chargers.
“I’m at a loss for words, quite honestly,” said Gruden according to USA Today. “I never thought we’d get beat like this two weeks in a row.”
Gruden is out of answers. That does not inspire confidence.
Star cornerback Josh Norman has had enough of the Redskins culture of losing.
“I came here to win a championship,” said Norman according to the Washington Post. “If we’re not doing that, what are we doing? Why are we here?”
Norman reached the Super Bowl with the Panthers before coming to Washington. He is used to a culture of winning with the Panthers. The losing culture in Washington can be like an all-consuming fire. There appears to be no escape.
The fans in Washington understand the injury issues. The Redskins were down to their fifth-string running back LeShun Daniels. Daniels received his first career carry against the Chargers. Star left tackle Trent Williams sat out much of the fourth quarter with his knee heavily wrapped. He has been playing through a knee injury for much of the season. Williams, a captain for the Redskins, has been inspiring playing through so much pain in an ultimately meaningless season. Before the Chargers game, he paid tribute to Redskins great Sean Taylor.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 10, 2017
No one can question the five Time Pro Bowlers effort, toughness or class. Linebacker Zach Brown, one of the fastest players at his position, was carted off the field with a foot injury. These injuries just scratch the surface of what Washington is dealing with.
Still, the injuries do not excuse getting outworked, out prepared and outclassed against the Chargers. The offseason cannot come fast enough for Washington who badly needs time to recover, regroup and reshuffle their roster through free agency and the draft.