As bad as the Redskins’ defense has been, the team could be winless without Griffin. And when Griffin gets almost no help from Washington’s receivers, the team is definitely headed for a bad day. We know what went wrong for the defense. Let’s take a closer look at the offense.
At first glance, Griffin had his poorest outing of the season against the Steelers. He completed only 16 of 34 passes (45 percent) for 177 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He finished with a 72.8 passer rating.
What the stats didn’t show, however, was that Redskins receivers were horrendous: They dropped 10 passes.
The temperature at game time was 45 degrees and it rained throughout the game. The game conditions weren’t great. The Steelers’ receivers, though, somehow managed to hold on to the ball.
Griffin isn’t the type to throw his teammates under the bus. Shanahan is in a position to speak his mind, which he did. “You can’t have that many drops,” Shanahan said.
Some of Griffin’s throws were either a little too high or low. Griffin has been much more accurate, but “I don’t care where the placement is,” Shanahan said. “As long as it hits your hands, you better catch it — or else you won’t be in the National Football League for very long.”
Logan Paulsen had four catches for 43 yards in his first game replacing Fred Davis, who’s out for the season, as the featured tight end. In Chris Cooley’s first game back with the team, the best tight end in franchise history was targeted once and had no receptions.
Davis is better at running deep routes than Paulsen is. Play-caller Kyle Shanahan often used Davis as a wideout to create mismatches. Without Davis, Shanahan has less flexibility to be creative.
No one knows how long it could take Cooley to become a force again. Or does Cooley have anything left?
“You miss Fred,” Mike Shanahan said. “If someone told you they don’t miss a Pro Bowl-[caliber] player, they’d be lying to you.”
Despite Griffin’s brilliance, the Redskins are only 3-5 at the midpoint of their season. Their unresolved issues on defense will continue to undermine the Griffin-led improvement on offense. The good news for the Redskins is that Griffin could be around for a long time — and at least some of their bad defensive players will be leaving soon.
For previous Jason Reid columns, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.