Return of offensive struggles rekindles frustrations

Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III keeps the ball on a third-quarter run. (Johnathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A week after producing one of their best offensive outputs in years, the Redskins’ offense regressed against the Denver Broncos on Sunday and struggled to extend drives and capitalize on prime opportunities that could’ve given them the win.

Only once all game did the Redskins manage to produce an extended scoring drive. That bit of success came at the tail end of the second quarter when the team went 95 yards in 16 plays and found the end zone with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to Leonard Hankerson.

But the only other offensive scoring drive came when linebacker Brian Orakpo recovered a fumble at the Denver 25, and Washington needed just three plays – all runs by Alfred Morris – to find the end zone and take a 14-7 lead.

But another seven possessions ended in punts, and five others ended in turnovers.

“Shoot. Everything,” wide receiver Pierre Garcon answered when asked to list the problem areas on offense. “We couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t throw the ball. Couldn’t get open, couldn’t catch the ball, couldn’t run the ball. Apparently, everything stopped working.”

The Redskins return all 11 starters from last year’s impressive offensive attack, but Garcon believes that this year’s struggles stem partially from an inability on Washington’s part to adapt.

“I guess we’ve got to make mid-game adjustments,” Garcon said. “That’s the thing that we need. It sucks. We’re 2-5 and defenses are changing and I guess we’re not changing, we’re not doing something, we’re not communicating and doing what we need to be doing.”

A week after racking up 499 yards, the Redskins managed only 266 yards against Denver.

Garcon, Griffin and other offensive players admitted that they seemed out of sync, but none could pinpoint the source of the struggles.

“We just needed to be better in general and in all aspects of the game: throwing, catching the ball, making positive plays and staying out of bad situations,” Griffin said. “My message to the guys was, ‘We have to forget about this game today. Go back, watch the film, get better from it, point your finger at yourself rather than point it at anyone else, and that’s the only way we can get better.’”

Some of the Redskins’ diminished effectiveness in the second half seemed connected to Washington straying from the run game.

Alfred Morris had 17 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. Nine of those carries for 66 yards came in the first half, and by the end of the third quarter, Morris had 15 carries for 91 yards. But he had only two carries for two yards in the fourth quarter.

Asked about the disappearance of the rushing attack in the fourth quarter, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, “After a game, you can always second-guess your calls if they don’t work. That’s part of football, but we probably have as much balance as anyone in the National Football League. We try to do pending on how they’re playing their fronts. If they’re playing eight-man fronts or seven-man fronts, it dictates if we run it or pass it. At the end of the day, you’ve got to find a way to get a first down.”

The Takeaway:

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins return from Denver and begin preparations for the Chargers on Sun. Nov. 3.

More from The Post:

Denver’s 38-point second-half onslaught powers a 45-21 win

Wise: Getting away from the running game was costly

The Takeaway: Bad outweighs the good | Gallery: Photos from Denver

Griffin gets a scare, but says knee is fine | Defense superb, then it goes awry

D.C. Sports Bog: Redskins vs. Broncos best and worst | More

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