Somewhere in the stands behind the Redskins’ bench, a group of fans turned toward owner Daniel Snyder’s box and began shouting: “Sell the team!” There weren’t enough people left in the stands for the chant to take hold.
In a season of lows, this game felt like the lowest. Washington’s defense gave up 400 yards to a team that came into the game with the league’s least efficient offense. It left New York tight end Ryan Griffin so wide open, he chugged for 61 total yards on back-to-back plays to score a touchdown just before halftime that seemed improbable given the play-it-safe defense the Redskins had employed. The players looked lost and flustered. At one point, safety Landon Collins yanked the chinstrips off his helmet in frustration.
Later, in the locker room, one defensive player shook his head and said: “I’m sick of this s---.”
He seemed to speak for everyone, since most of his teammates had left as fast as they could.
But not before interim coach Bill Callahan had talked to them for a long, long time. Callahan has been lengthy in his postgame addresses since taking over for Jay Gruden in early October, and yet this speech ran longer than the others. He told the players he wasn’t giving up despite the dismal record and the seeming lack of promise that anything will improve. He said he’s a positive person who will remain positive. He called the disaster of a day “uncharacteristic,” despite the fact the team stretched its streak of quarters without a touchdown to 16 before two late scores in the fourth.
Afterward, he walked down a corridor to the interview room, where he stepped behind a lectern and talked and talked and talked.
It almost appeared as if he was trying to make sense of what is happening, trying to figure out how his longer practices with an emphasis on fitness and tackling has resulted in a 1-4 record and the team looks to be getting worse rather than better.
“We were just not on top of our game in any way, shape or form,” he said. “We got off to a rough start in the first quarter and it kind of dovetails into the second quarter. By the half we were down by three possessions and we dug ourselves a little hole.”
He talked so long that his quarterback Dwayne Haskins had time to shower, dress, put on a gray jacket, chat with a few people standing in the locker room, shake hands with well-wishers in the hallway outside the locker room, first bump a reporter in the hallway and walk to the interview room door where he was told to wait.
And wait. And wait.
Haskins leaned against the wall outside the interview room, propped a foot against the cinder blocks and scanned his phone.
His first home start had not been a good one. He was sacked six times, and rarely had time to stand in the pocket, as the Jets pass rushers kept chasing him and forcing him to make off-balance throws. His numbers — 19 of 35 for 214 yards and a 79.9 passer rating — looked better than his on-field performance did. But a short toss to running back Derrius Guice — playing in his first game since tearing his meniscus in the opener — led to a 45-yard reception that turned into the first of his two touchdown passes.
“Life is hard, I’ve got to work harder,” Haskins said.
He described a meeting with the offensive linemen early in the game, one in which he said he was “trying to figure out urgency.” He said he asked the linemen “What do I need to do?” He said the linemen told him some things that he “tried to apply.”
“After the conversation, it was just ‘give me the ball and let me play,’” Haskins said. “That’s about it.”
When asked how he thought he played, Haskins said: “It was okay, it wasn’t good enough. We didn’t win.”
It’s hard to know what the Redskins can build upon after Sunday. Getting the Jets, who entered the game with a 2-7 record, coming off a bye week appeared to be a break. But New York scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions and added a third just before halftime, while holding Washington to just 60 first-half yards to go up 20-3.
The Jets scored another touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard reception by former Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder and turned a Haskins interception on his 14 into another touchdown. By then the score was 34-3 and the stadium had emptied and another day was lost.
“I think it’s a young team, I think it’s a very young team,” Callahan said, trying to explain the Redskins’ continued plummet to the NFL’s bottom.
A young team that will have to grow up fast in the season’s last six weeks.
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