There was no sleep to be had for Washington Redskins players on the plane ride back from New Orleans, despite the fact that they didn’t land until nearly dawn. Washington was embarrassed in a 43-19 loss on “Monday Night Football,” and there were things that needed to be ironed out.
Players have game tape loaded onto tablets after each contest, and the correction process for this Sunday’s home matchup with the Carolina Panthers began immediately.
“Usually after a game like that you can’t sleep anyway,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “If you have questions about what somebody was thinking on this or thinking about that, you go talk to them right then and there. That’s the best way to handle it. You’ve got to be able to hold each other accountable and talk to people straight up, face-to-face, and get it sorted out right then and there.
“We don’t want to point no fingers at each other. We just want to hold each other accountable and get better. We know that wasn’t us. Nobody wants to play like that.”
There were plenty of mistakes to point to, however. Busted coverages in the secondary. Poor gap control at the line of scrimmage. Third-down penalties. A lack of effort in one instance. An attempt to do too much in another.
“Little miscues and self-inflicted wounds like that,” Foster said, “those hurt way more than just getting flat-out beat by somebody. . . . Nobody wants to have that same feeling again.”
Poor communication has been the biggest talking point for players and coaches this week. Calls have to be relayed cleanly from the sideline, and each player must know his responsibility pre-snap. That can be as simple as each player “echoing” a call or adjustment so that everyone else hears it. That can mean more hand signals. But there are also instances where certain offensive looks and formations automatically call for a specific defensive adjustment, regardless of communication.
“It’s up to us as coaches to make sure that doesn’t happen, because the play is a reflection of us,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “We have to make sure they totally understand and have a good grip on what they’re doing. Then on game day, they have to go out and execute.
“There are certain things that we want to do to change, and that has to be communicated. Obviously, we’ll do a better job.”
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the message was simple when the team gathered together this week: Everyone blew it. Both sides of the ball underperformed, and everyone has to improve.
“We didn’t play good at all across the board,” Manusky said. “Even Jay mentioned it, ‘Has anybody played good in the room?' Nobody has; nobody did.
"We didn’t coach good enough, we didn’t play good enough, and it’s a learning experience for us. And we’ve got to make sure that we come out this week and make sure we perform at a high level.”
The Redskins have their hands full again this week with the Panthers. Former league MVP Cam Newton remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and his running ability and physical stature make him a unique challenge for defenses. Former Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey has seen his role increase from primarily being used as a pass catcher out of the backfield to ranking No. 10 in the league in rushing.
They provide a distinct combination that the Redskins haven’t seen yet, as the No. 1 rushing team in the league with 154.0 yards per game. But safety D.J. Swearinger is confident the defense will reverse course.
“We got blowed out [last week],” Swearinger said. “If you just got blowed out, you’re going to be ready to play next week. So, [I’m] banking on that.”
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