Redskins Season Ends, Not With a Bang But a Whimper
There are still three games left to play, but the Redskins’ season came to an ignoble conclusion Sunday with a humiliating 30-13 loss to the Chargers. A playoff chance was only a distant statistical possibility going in to Week 14, but the team performed like they had nothing to play for and no pride, either. And so ends another in an interminable series of disappointing campaigns for Washington. Many games have seen one or two of the player groups under-performing at the same time, but this week’s debacle was noteworthy for seeing all three facets fail together.
Let’s start with the offense. Kirk Cousins has been solid for most games this season so this one was arguably his worst showing of the year. He put up just a 68.6 rating while passing for only 151 yards. The numbers look even worse when broken down; 15/27 and 5.6 yards per attempt, one of which was a terrible interception thrown into tight coverage and deflected from one defender into the hands of another. This has been a season filled with injuries and issues and Cousins has rarely been the biggest problem, but even if the other parts of the team had played well (which they didn’t!), such a weak performance from the QB would likely have guaranteed a loss.
The rest of the offensive unit also played badly. The line actually had three starters in the game for the first time in weeks, but all are playing through injuries and are not themselves. Cousins was sacked twice on five hits, which was actually not nearly as bad as it should have been against the 2nd ranked pass rush in the NFL. Samaje Perine has found himself with a prime opportunity to seize the starting RB job and has not done much of anything to impress. After back to back 100+ yards games against the Saints and Giants he rushed for a dreadful 38 yards against Dallas and 45 yards against the Chargers. As bad as that is, it’s even worse when taking into account that the Chargers run defense is ranked 31st in the league. Doctson, Crowder, and Davis got the majority of the targets from Cousins, but only had a measly eight receptions between them. To add insult to injury, Cousins and company were so unable to sustain a drive that they went just 2-12 on third down conversions and were forced to punt eight times, including six punts in a row in the second half. This was one of the worst offensive performances of the Gruden era.
Even by the standards of such a terrible game, the defense was especially poor, allowing Philip Rivers to have his way all afternoon (for a total of 319 yards and 2 touchdowns) and also not doing much of anything to stop Keenan Allen, who put up 111 yards on only six receptions. And Allen wasn’t even the top receiver for the afternoon. That honor went to Tyrell Williams, who went for 132 yards on only four receptions, including a 75 yard touchdown strike. Allen and Williams were among the six receivers who combined for 322 yards receiving. Combined with the 174 yards given up on the ground, the Skins defense allowed a staggering 496 total yards to Philip Rivers and his crew. It was a truly atrocious performance.
The game was bad, but the worst thing may be that there were additional injuries to key personnel. Zach Brown, a pending free agent who has been a rare bright spot on an otherwise putrid defense, left the game with what appeared to be an Achilles injury. He was already banged up going into the game, so it’s impossible not to wonder why he or the team would risk just such an outcome in a meaningless blowout loss. The seriousness of the injury isn’t yet known and Brown is one of the most important signings the Skins need to take care of in the off season. Hopefully he’ll be fully recovered and still wearing Burgundy and Gold when training camp rolls around.
This was a terrible performance in what has turned into a terrible season. Despite the fury and lamentations of many fans and analysts, this team has decent potential for next year if key players can be retained (Hi, Kirk!) and everyone can get healthy. Blowing up the whole thing in a fit pique would be a silly over reaction to a campaign marred by an almost unbelievable string of injuries.