Nothing changes. It seems nearly every week we’re performing a post-mortem on the same patient. It would be like “CSI” if every victim died of blunt force trauma every week. Speaking of which, watching Washington’s NFL franchise feels a little like blunt force trauma.
Nothing changes. “Same old, same old” doesn’t cover it. Same game plan. Same lack of early scoring. Same burst of scoring when it’s too little, too late and the opponent is letting up or tired. Same inability to stop said opponent from scoring. Same inability to tackle. Same problems on special teams. (I don’t envy Nick Williams, who probably was where he belonged on the scout team.)
Nothing changes. Since the Eagles took apart Washington in Week 1, nothing has changed. Some players have been moved in and out, but the results have been the same. It’s a catastrophe of a season when you are 3-7 in the weakest division in football.
Robert Griffin III is a talent, no question. But he’s making the same mistakes we saw in Week 1. Then, he was rusty, and rightly so. Should he have started the season? Probably not, but once the coaches held him out of the preseason, there was no other way to get him game-ready other than putting him in games. There isn’t a Class AAA affiliate where he can go to work on his timing.
And there was no way Mike Shanahan was going to start Kirk Cousins in Week 1. Shanahan bet the farm — in the form of three top draft picks — on Griffin. He has to stick with Griffin because if Griffin fails, Shanahan fails. The difference is, he and his son are then out of work. Griffin isn’t going anywhere.
Griffin still has a lot of work to do. That ridiculous decision on third and one to heave the ball at the end zone? While being pushed backward? That’s a rookie gaffe by a smart second-year player. He’s regressing before our eyes.
Griffin says the right things about how he knows he has to improve and work on certain things, but does he mean it? Is he still coachable by Shanahan pere et fils? There’s clearly some sideline tension. And I’d love to play poker with Griffin. He can’t hide his disgust when he feels a receiver ran the wrong route or a blocker missed an assignment, and he’s turning into a bit of a game-day whiner, throwing up his hands and begging for flags. (If you don’t want to get hit, let go of the ball.) He has improved his sliding. There is your positive takeaway from a Week 10 loss to the Eagles: Griffin’s sliding is better.
Speaking of how nothing changes, hello, Alfred Morris! How in the name of Vince Lombardi do you come up with a game plan, week after week, in which you run the ball constantly in the first half and run the ball almost never in the second? Every week? Washington players said the Eagles were ready for them. Of course they were! I was ready for them, you were ready for them, everyone was ready for them. And the game plan delivered again. Morris had four touches in the second half. Four. That’s ridiculous.
Yes, Washington needed points. But that’s not going to happen with a strict adherence to the passing game, not with this receiving corps, not with Griffin missing open receivers, not with Roy Helu Jr. being given the ridiculous task of blocking someone twice his size, not with Jordan Reed out of the game. The passing game is simply not good enough on its own to make up that kind of deficit. Yet Morris stands on the sideline and watches. (Another guy would be throwing a fit. Imagine if Dez Bryant were essentially benched for a half? Whoo-eee.) I like seeing Helu and Darrel Young getting some touches; that’s what should be happening all game long, not just in the second half. Washington, essentially, is 3-7 and has the luxury of a first-half-only running back.
Now what Washington needs is a first-half-only defense. Or a first-half defense of any sort. Is it time, this offseason, to abandon the 3-4? It’s not like the team brought in all new personnel when it converted from the 4-3. I’m guessing Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher can recall it, and Ryan Kerrigan can learn. (Kerrigan on LeSean McCoy — brilliant!)
Of course, changing the offensive play-calling and the defensive formation would involve a house-cleaning. And Washington would be right back where it has started so many times before: new coach, new system, same time to progress, same failure, goodbye coach, goodbye system. And we know how that turns out. In the end, nothing ever changes.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.
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