The across-the-roster failure (at this point, there’s no other way to describe it) of the group that won the NFC East a season ago is puzzling. It’s not only that the Redskins have experienced breakdowns in key areas. They have appeared unprepared to start the season.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III’s rustiness has been a factor in the Redskins’ season-opening collapse. Griffin hasn’t been sharp, let alone dynamic, in his return from reconstructive knee surgery.
All that ails the Redskins, however, cannot be attributed to Griffin struggling to regain his superstar form. When a team is outscored 50-7 in the opening halves of its first two games, everyone in the football operation should look in the mirror.
Coach Mike Shanahan, offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett have a lot of heavy lifting ahead of them. Let’s take a look at where they’ll begin their work.
Failure up front
Last season, Washington’s interior linemen — center Will Montgomery and guards Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester — helped provide a strong foundation for one of the league’s best offenses. The Redskins led the NFL in rushing, were tied for first in yards per play and ranked third in passer rating. That type of success only occurs when an offensive line is in sync.
The Redskins have the same people as last season on their line — but not the same players. Montgomery, Lichtensteiger and Chester have struggled in pass protection. Griffin often has faced pressure up the middle. Defensive linemen have surrounded him and tipped his passes. Griffin has had to pass before receivers have completed their routes.
It doesn’t matter whether a team utilizes a traditional pro-style offense, a zone-read offense, a hurry-up offense or a hybrid approach. Timing is essential in completing midrange and deep passes. The Redskins’ timing is way off.
Griffin, who is not running as much as he did early last season, piled up cosmetic stats in Week 1 after the Philadelphia Eagles took command — the Eagles had a 26-point, third-quarter lead — in a 33-27 victory at FedEx Field. He had another meaningless stat-stuffer performance (320 yards, three touchdowns) after the Packers raced to a 31-0 third-quarter lead.
For the Redskins, the only good news on offense was that running back Alfred Morris, coming off a confidence-rattling performance in the opener, rushed for 107 yards and had an 8.2-yard average. Fans, though, shouldn’t be fooled: The Redskins’ offense isn’t getting better.