In June, Redskins inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan said Washington’s defense had “top-five potential.” Judging by its performance through two weeks, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s unit might be lucky to crack the top 30. The Redskins had no answer for Dak Prescott on Sunday and have allowed 63 points and 911 yards in two games. Dallas scored on five consecutive possessions after Washington took a 7-0 lead, and the Cowboys put up 474 total yards of offense while converting seven of their 11 third downs. “We have a very talented group on defense, and we’re not reaching them,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said afterward. “We have to play better, and we will play better.” Will Manusky be around when they do?
Jay Gruden’s play-calling was more memorable and less predictable than usual. The Redskins dialed up a deep shot to rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin on their first play from scrimmage, but Case Keenum underthrew the pass, which fell incomplete. Later in the first quarter, Washington ran consecutive plays with jet sweep action, giving the ball to rookie wide receiver Steven Sims both times for a combined 12 yards. It was refreshing to see Gruden’s offense find creative ways to get one of the team’s quickest players involved, and it’s likely the result of first-year offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell’s influence.
Fail: “Rotten Apples That Come From Hell”
Last week, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was asked about Prescott’s dazzling performance in the Cowboys’ season opener against the Giants. “You stand back there in the pocket all day and go through your first, second and third reads and come back to your first one, okay, cool,” Norman said. “Anybody can do that. At the end of the day, he’s been playing well. As you can see, he’s evolved. He’s growing in the system. He’s just taking his keys and picking his targets and throwing the ball on time.”
Several media outlets latched onto Norman’s “anybody can do that” quote, leading to disingenuous headlines such as “Norman Calls Out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was even asked about the perceived slight. After the game, Norman, who was burned by Devin Smith for a 51-yard touchdown in the loss, said he had nothing but respect for Prescott and expressed frustration with some unidentified media members for misconstruing his words.
“That’s the reason athletes, entertainers, don’t even want to f--- with you guys to be 100 with you,” Norman said. “It’s no need. ... You really gotta watch the [reporters] that are doing great jobs. You gotta suffer with me because of the spoiled, rotten apples that come from hell. It’s unbearable. There are good reporters that actually come in here and do the job that they’re supposed to do and hold their head high and you respect them. But it’s those sour apples, man, that make y’alls job [stink]. It’s sad, it really is sad, because you pin us against each other. You pin my brother against my other brother. You don’t have to do that.”
Prescott said he was aware of Norman’s comments, but didn’t use them as motivation on Sunday.
His final line — 10 carries for 25 yards — wasn’t worth celebrating, but Peterson moved into sole possession of fifth-place on the career rushing touchdown list with his 107th in the second quarter. Peterson now sets his sights on Walter Payton, who had 110. “It’s a blessing,” Peterson said. “This one means a lot more than the other ones will when I pass them, because Jim Brown’s a guy that I looked up to. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him on several occasions. Just the look in his eyes when I’m talking to him, that alone is just motivating to me. It feels good to have passed him today, but it’s bittersweet because we didn’t get this divisional win.”
Fail: The Pro-Cowboys Crowd
The announced attendance of 57,013 for Washington’s Week 2 game against the Colts last season was the Redskins’ smallest for a home opener since FedEx Field opened in 1997. There were 75,128 people in Landover for Sunday’s game, but at least half of the crowd was cheering for the Cowboys, according to most estimates. Those in the stands wearing silver and blue were loud and had plenty to cheer about, even if some of them were a little iffy when it came to knowledge about their favorite team.
Hail: Scary Terry McLaurin
McLaurin tied for the team lead with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. After demonstrating his speed in Week 1, the rookie showed his ability to be physical at the line of scrimmage by shaking off a defender and making a catch on a short comeback route on Sunday. His one-yard touchdown catch with the game already decided late in the fourth quarter made him the first Redskins rookie wide receiver with at least two touchdown receptions in his first two games since Charlie Brown had three in 1982. Brown finished the season with eight.
Last season, the Redskins became the first team not to experience a lead change in their first nine game since 1954 and started the year 6-0 in games in which they scored first. Washington has scored first in both games this season, only to watch the Eagles and Cowboys erase the early deficits and cruise to relatively comfortable wins.
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