The Washington Post

Who can figure out the Redskins?

After the Redskins lost to the Panthers I decided to shave my head. I then drank a liter of milk and ran around the block three times. I decided to make an incredible meat bolognaise lasagna and I gave it all to the dog. I turned the TV back on, but the score was still the same: Panthers 33, Redskins 20. After an hour or so of inconsolable sulking and a whiskey bath I was able to come away with several positives from the loss.

John Beck had a decent day. Not great and not horrible, just some good old-fashioned decency. With two new faces on the offensive line and his number one receiver and running back exiting the game with injuries, the odds weren’t exactly in his favor. The guys who remained in the game, with the exception of Fred Davis who continues to shine, didn’t give him much help. Still he threw for 279 yards, one touchdown, one interception, ran for a touchdown and lost a fumble. His passer rating of 80.8 would put him at 22nd in the NFL. Not great, not horrible, but enough to undoubtedly remain the starter, allowing him to build a better rapport with his line and receivers.

Other positives: Fred Davis is continuing to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder. Tim Hightower ran well... before tearing his ACL. Graham Gano has come a long way since last year.

The problems came from everywhere else. The defense, which had been outstanding, could do nothing to shut down Cam Newton and Steve Smith. Smith was targeted nine times for seven catches and 143 yards, representing more than half of Newton’s 256 passing yards. I’m still not convinced that Cam Newton is as good as people think he is, but Washington’s lackluster effort only aided to a growing sense of hype and delusion.

This is the second straight week the defense has come out flat. If the Redskins defense wasn’t embarrassed before or after Eagles game they should be now. Instead, a rookie quarterback looked like an All-Pro and the Redskins are stuck with their second loss in a row: also known as a losing streak.

My expectations were low entering into the 2011 season, I was merely content that the drama had left and the blue-collar work ethic that earned this franchise wins and respect had returned. Instead, those details that Shanahan always references aren’t present on the game field anymore. Tackling has fallen off, blocks haven’t been taken to the next level, the defensive line isn’t putting its hands in the air to try and bat down balls, receivers are dropping balls and running bad routes, the offensive line is blowing assignments, and the whole team feels like it’s regressed since the bye week.

The bleeding needs to stop before it hemorrhages. I can only hope that in five weeks I’m not thinking back to the good old days when Washington was 3-3. The next two weeks the Redskins will face Toruffalo and San Francisco — two teams who have been bottom dwellers since their Super Bowl days, much like our boys in burgundy and gold. The difference is the Bills and 49ers are winning, inspired and consistent. Every week the Redskins are still that mystery box: Lord knows what’s going to be inside.


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