The Whole Season in One Game
The Redskins’ last game was the perfect microcosm of the season; there were injuries, interceptions, offensive struggles, defensive struggles, a quick flash of Cousins proving he’s the best RB on our team…you get that point. We’ve seen it now a hundred times, and you didn’t learn anything going into Sunday’s game that you didn’t already know.
Let’s talk about the game in the context of how it reflects on the team’s state heading into the offseason. Cousins’ performance stunk in every category…total yards, completion percentage, the aforementioned INTs (3), touchdowns, you name it. He ended this one on the lowest of lows; yet another embarrassing week 16 loss to a struggling Giants team, who, by the way, were without offensive tools like OBJ and Sterling Shepherd.
I just don’t think you can extrapolate anything about Cousins from this game or this season that hasn’t already been proven about that guy. He’s going to throw interceptions and off target passes no matter what, and that problem will only be exacerbated when the team’s strapped for talent at receiver and riddled with injuries everywhere else. He’s a solid guy. Sorry folks, nothing profound here. I can’t offer any insight that will make the upcoming decision about him any easier.
Speaking of injuries, none could have been more frustrating for the Redskins this year than Reed’s and Thompson’s. Jamual is right when he says this team needs dynamic players, and those two are the matchup nightmares that seem to be able to get things done. Losing them was just the icing on a rotten cake of injuries to the offensive and defensive lines that shook the team’s foundation early in the season. Health – or lack of it – is the biggest storyline for the Redskins this year, and it makes everything else about the team difficult to assess.
You can definitely draw one conclusion, though: the Redskins – in addition to being headed for an offseason of frustrating contract negotiations with Kirk – have an offseason of uncertainty and open competition at the running back position to look forward to as well. Our leading RB early in the season was undoubtedly Thompson, about whom there are already numerous doubts about his abilities as an every-down type of guy. Kapri Bibbs, a late-season addition, was the leading back against the Giants, carrying 12 times for 47 yards. Not terribly inspiring. He’s shown some good stuff though, and I imagine we’ll see a bit more of him for lack of other options if nothing else.
Samaje Perine suffered from a battered and seemingly inept offensive line throughout the season, and he never should have been our #1 in the first place, but he never did anything to inspire the fanbase either. Maybe that’s too tall of an order in a year like this. His best moments came in back-to-back games in late November against the Vikings and the Giants, but outside of that he stayed quiet. And he went out with a whimper on Sunday, hobbling off the field and nursing his ankle in the Skins’ first series.
Defensively, things aren’t much more positive. The Redskins are ranked near the bottom in several categories, including points and total yards, which are, you know, slightly important. This is a big disappointment in the post-Barry era and one of my bigger surprises from this season. Throw in the fact that high(ish)-profile players like DJ Swearinger openly question the team’s work ethic in practice, and you have yet another of Washington’s characteristic black clouds.
The Redskins finished at 7- 9 on the season, which is actually a little better than my 6 – 10 prediction after the pre-season. 8 – 8 would have made the coaching staff feel a lot more comfortable, and, cue the headlines, there are already all kinds of speculations that Gruden will be fired, return to coach the Bengals, yada yada. I doubt it. The Redskins have a knack for shirking responsibility in a season like this, where they were almost respectable, and besides: Jay’s not to blame for a lot of what went wrong this year. You can blame injuries, disappointing acquisitions, and the usual toxic environment around Ashburn for that.
Like I said, I called this a 6 – 10 season before week 1. We didn’t replace Garcon and Jackson with anyone that could remotely fill those shoes, we had no legitimate running back to speak of, and I was undoubtedly feeling cynical from the massive pile of Cousins-cash we burned on the franchise tag. I wish I could say I’m feeling more hopeful right now, but I can’t. There are so many issues with this team, from scheme to talent, that a clear path forward can’t really be seen. We’re going to enter next year with lots of variables and unknowns. It’s early, but that’s where I’m at right now.
We’ll see. The Redskins could change my mind.
Luckily, it’s a long offseason.