Hope, they say, isn’t a strategy. The Redskins have much improved their defense. They have added depth at running back. They’ve added 500 wide receivers in an effort not to remain a league joke at a position that’s now so vital in a wide-open, run-and-gun NFL. But in some vital areas, they simply had to hold their breath; you can’t fix everything at once.
The Redskins hoped a thin offensive line wouldn’t suffer injuries. They hoped that their defense was vastly better, not just much improved. And they hoped that Rex Grossman would be a new man in a Shanahan offense. Now, all three issues will suddenly be under the microscope simultaneously.
On Sunday, guard Kory Lichtensteiger suffered a serious knee injury that may put him out for the season. Offensive tackle Trent Williams sustained a high ankle sprain that he called “excruciating” and which usually sidelines 300-pounders for at least a couple of weeks. Trying to sustain a running game, even at 1-5 Charlotte next week, will be a test. But, in the long run, forcing more offensive linemen onto the field, like versatile 320-pound second-year Erik Cook, who played creditably, actually creates more depth.
The loss of Williams was a particular setback because, for a fourth overall pick in the ’10 draft, he hasn’t developed quickly. Considered the heir to Chris Samuels (a third overall pick in ’00), Williams committed two penalties — holding and unnecessary roughness — in the Redskins’ first five plays. Talent, minor injuries and inconsistency have been his trademarks.
“I wanted to go through a whole year injury-free,” said Williams, who missed two games in ’10. “Somebody came down on it. I’ve never had this before but it’s very painful. To get hit with this is very discouraging.”
The Redskins entered the game with hopes that their No. 2 ranking in the NFL in points allowed was not a mirage. When they trailed 20-0 in the second quarter, flashbacks to the Eagles’ 59-point onslaught here last season came to mind. That defense was a total mess. This one, apparently, is just careless: They misplaced a half of football.
“The whole first half was mediocre, like we were going through the motions without intensity. We seemed flat,” safety LaRon Landry said. “We talked about it at halftime. It’s all about attitude.”
Landry, at least, found his and almost knocked Michael Vick out of the game with a tackle early in the third quarter. “Vick seemed groggy [after the play] like he was about to fall down,” said Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who said that he and a couple of Eagles actually put their hands on Vick so he wouldn’t collapse. “He didn’t look too good initially.” Vick later said he had dirt in his eyes.