December 15th, 2015 | Comments Off on The Loser Papers 2015 – Edition VI | Posted in » Washington Redskins |
Once again, the Redskins managed to beat Da Bears (I think that’s 5 or 6 in a row), and to stay atop the NFC East for another week. And with the victory comes yet another edition of TLP. From the pages of the Chicago Tribune:
Bears endure latest round of growing pains in chasing Jordan Reed
The growing pains stung Jonathan Anderson as he sat at his stall late Sunday afternoon. They were his personal share of the disappointment that pervaded the Bears locker room after their 24-21 loss to the Redskins.
The undrafted rookie inside linebacker replayed the sequence in his mind — the shallow crossing route tight end Jordan Reed ran, the miscommunication that resulted in Anderson chasing the play and the third-down touchdown catch that proved critical to the outcome.
“I feel like this game for me personally was a step back,” Anderson said. “There (were) a lot of things I blew out there coverage-wise.”
It was a measure of accountability as the Bears processed another round of mistakes after their second straight home loss to an opponent with no road wins.
More specifically, part of the postmortem centered on how Reed finished with nine catches for 120 yards plus the touchdown. He carved up the defense with option routes that highlighted disparities in athleticism and sharpness between the sides.
The Bears said they were prepared for Reed’s speed, but his adjustments were problematic.
“It was more his route-running,” Anderson said. “He was reading us and running the opposite way.”
The Redskins believed Reed presented a speed mismatch against linebackers Anderson, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones. How he gashed the Bears in October 2013 with nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown supported their case.
Now in his third season, Reed’s film study of the Bears alerted him to tendencies he took advantage of Sunday.
“Just how they move in space and … what kind of moves I can set them up with if I’m trying to get inside,” Reed said. “This week, they kind of were taking the first move, and that’s what I’d seen on film, so I was trying to double them up and it worked out.”
Several Bears lamented communication breakdowns in coverage. The Redskins have fast, talented receivers, including DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Reed. That caused problems for the Bears against an offense that uses misdirection well.
“A lot of things we did to ourselves with communication between everybody on the defense in crosses and boots and stuff like that,” safety Adrian Amos said. “We’ve got to do a better job communicating across the board.”
Reed’s 6-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was straightforward, though: shotgun formation, three receivers to the left, with Reed closest to the sideline. He crossed the formation, running underneath the two inside receivers.
Anderson took a few steps toward the line of scrimmage, prompting Reed to adjust and continue his route over the top. With Anderson stuck changing direction, Reed separated for a fairly simple catch.
“That was my play to make,” Anderson said. “I should have stayed with him. It was just a bad communication on my part because I thought Shea was going to end up taking him.”
It was a teaching moment for a rookie playing only his eighth game, but it came at a steep price.
“I have this saying,” Anderson said. “It’s not about going out there playing; it’s about going out there playing well. That’s the bottom line.”
Aggressive coaching may have cost the Bears a win Sunday
Written By Kyle Thele Posted: 12/14/2015, 09:27am
Chicago Bears head coach John Fox walks on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Throughout John Fox’s career he has been known as a safe coach. His style of play was going to prevent the Bears from getting in its own way. However, it may have been the aggressiveness from the coaching staff that killed the Bears Sunday.
With the Bears down three and taking over on offense, a pair of unusual play calls may have put the Bears in a bad situation. On second and third down from the Washington 32-yard-line, Cutler and the Bears offense took shots deep down field.
The failed passing attempts for Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal put the Bears in a position to again need a long kick to try and tie the game. A struggling Robbie Gould repeated his performance from a week earlier and missed the kick.
With Gould’s struggles of late, the safe choice likely would have been shorter passes or even running the ball to move down the field.
This isn’t the first time the Bears appeared to abandon the seemingly “safe” decision late in a game. On fourth down inside the five-yard-line against the Broncos, Fox and the Bears went for the touchdown instead of cutting into the eight-point lead. The Bears would eventually lose by two.
One of the great things about TLP editions coming out of New York, is that you have so many newspapers to choose articles from. In honor of the Skins drubbing of Mara’s woeful Giants, that carried them into first place, I am presenting three articles from three different papers. First up, we have a submission from the New York Daily News:
Flat effort from Giants puts Tom Coughlin back on hot seat
By Ralph Vacchiano
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Monday, November 30, 2015, 1:06 AM
LANDOVER, Md. — Tom Coughlin’s damning assessment of the Giants’ disgraceful effort on Sunday were four simple words: “Too little, too late.”Those might end up being the final words of this Giants season.
They could also end up being the epitaph on the end of his own Giants career.
Because if this all ends up continuing downhill and the Giants don’t win their pathetic division and Coughlin is pushed into a forced retirement he clearly doesn’t want, then this will be the moment where all that was locked up. In the biggest game the Giants have played in three seasons, with a chance to give themselves a clear and easy path to the playoffs, they spent three quarters in an embarrassing, inexplicable funk.
Never mind that they rallied for two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to make the final score, 20-14, look close. Don’t be fooled by that. They blew this game when they “slept-walked,” as Coughlin admitted, right out of the tunnel. They tossed away a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East by coming out mind-bogglingly flat.
Coughlin had two weeks to get them ready for this game, to pound home the implications, to come up with a winning strategy.
But still, in an enormous moment, the Giants were no-shows.
And to be honest, the way this season has gone, that’s hardly a surprise.
“It’s been the story of our season, you know?” said defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins. “We have not cashed in our opportunities. We get opportunities, we get a chance to start to distance ourselves, and we just don’t take advantage.”
“We didn’t do anything in the first half,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul added. “We waited until the fourth quarter to start playing. By then it was over.
“They wanted it more badly.”
If that’s true, that is a horrible sign.
The evidence sure is strong to support that, though. The Giants’ first two drives ended with Eli Manning interceptions, both off passes that at one point were right in his receivers’ hands. And even when Washington couldn’t convert those into any points, it wasn’t enough to rouse the Giants out of whatever deep sleep they were in.
The only big player who stepped up with a big game was Odell Beckham (9 catches, 142 yards, and one spectacular, diving, one-handed touchdown catch in the fourth quarter). But he was pretty much the only one, which Manning clearly knew since he threw toward him 18 times.
Maybe the Giants were handicapped by an offensive line that was missing two (and later three) starters. But they certainly had plenty of other players on both sides of the ball to make plays. Two weeks ago, the Giants fought valiantly to the end against the undefeated New England Patriots. This time they were playing a flawed Washington team with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.
Yet somehow, the Giants found themselves in an incredible, 17-0 halftime hole.
“We came out flat and this wasn’t the game for that,” Jenkins said. “This had to be the game where we come out and play the best game of the year. We didn’t do that.”
“It looked like that first half wasn’t us,” added cornerback Prince Amukamara. “It looked like we had a bye week hangover.”
The players can’t be let off the hook for that, but that hangs on the head coach too. And this one will hang on Coughlin the way the Giants’ ugly, 25-24 loss in Jacksonville hung on him last season — the one where they blew a 21-3 lead and had co-owner John Mara wanting to fire everyone when it was done.
Maybe he’s not responsible for the poor plays, like the poor throw on Manning’s third interception of the game, in the end zone in the third quarter that would’ve been a touchdown if he had thrown it in front of Rueben Randle. Or like the 63-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to DeSean Jackson right over cornerback Jayron Hosley right after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had limped out of the game.
But Coughlin has to take blame for the lack of effort, the lack of fight, especially after two weeks of hearing and talking about how excited the Giants were to finally be playing meaningful late-season football again.
They still have meaningful, late-season games left to play, of course. They’re still technically in a first-place tie. But how meaningful are any of these games really going to be if this is how the Giants are going to respond?
“We came in knowing everything was on the table and we didn’t put our best foot forward,” Beckham said. “We are 5-6 for a reason.”
“Terrible,” Pierre-Paul added. “We had a chance to seal the deal and we didn’t get the job done.”
The Giants are lucky that all is far from lost in a division that’s starting to look like it might produce a 7-9 champion. They will have several more opportunities to secure their first playoff berth since 2011 in the next few weeks.
But this was an opportunity too — one too big to pass up, which is exactly what they ended up doing.
“We came in here knowing full well what all the circumstances were and we didn’t have a lot going on early in the game,” Coughlin said. “But had we had a little more time in this one, it might have been a different story.”
Time is something the Giants are running out of this season. And with flat efforts like this one, Coughlin may soon be out of time.
Eli Manning threw three interceptions during the Giants’ loss to the Redskins on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
It seemed like the perfect mixture for a special season for the Giants’ offense. Eli Manning was in his second year in Ben McAdoo’s system and McAdoo was in his second season of calling plays. Victor Cruz would be healthy and paired with Odell Beckham Jr. for a potentially dynamic set of receivers with Larry Donnell maturing into a big-play tight end. The offensive line would add depth and more experience while the running game looked improved with the addition of Shane Vereen.
Then it all began to fall apart. Cruz never played a regular-season game because of a calf injury. Donnell has been plagued by injuries and drops, while the offensive line is losing a battle of attrition. A special season and the Giants’ worst nightmare collided Sunday at Washington, where Manning and the Giants were shut out for three quarters before a late rally fell short in a 20-14 loss to their NFC East rival.
An offense that was envisioned to be one of the more productive in the league scares no one right now, at least not when anybody but Beckham has the football. He is the Giants’ only real threat, their only game-changer. His spectacular one-handed, 21-yard touchdown grab with 4:57 left Sunday put the Giants within a touchdown of tying the game and an extra point of leading.
Yet deep in your soul, you knew a miraculous comeback wasn’t going to happen. Not for these Giants. Not after guard Geoff Schwartz went down with a fracture in his leg in the first quarter; not after three interceptions thrown by Manning; not after 10 straight possessions included three picks and seven punts; not after DeSean Jackson reminded the Giants of his explosive skills with a 63-yard touchdown catch. The last time Manning got the ball, he was at his own 16 with just 19 seconds remaining. The game ended in an embarrassing display of hot potato with Manning getting the ball back and taking a hard shot that the Giants were lucky didn’t do damage.
The Giants started the season playing three strong quarters and not being able to finish the fourth. Against the Redskins, they slept for three and woke up in the fourth.
“I thought our effort was there,” Manning said Monday. “I thought our desire to do it was there, just our execution has to be better.”
Injuries are starting to decimate the offense, which now must figure out a way to find production against a Jets defense that forced two turnovers in a 38-20 win over the Dolphins.
“It’ll be a great test for us,” Manning said. “They’re a good defense. Their offense is playing well and scoring points and we have to play well.”
Five games remain and the Giants still believe they can win the NFC East, make the playoffs, get on one of those rolls like they did in 2007 and 2011, and finish with a parade. But those teams were finding their rhythm about now. The Giants (5-6) are off the rails, scrambling to piece together an offensive line and looking for production from someone other than Beckham, who could be shadowed by Darrelle Revis this Sunday.
“For me, it’s not about Odell versus Revis,” Manning said. “It’s about our offense versus the Jets’ defense and us moving the ball, finding completions, and not trying to win individual battles.”
The Giants offense won’t be the high-powered juggernaut it hoped it would be. Week after week, we waited for Cruz to return, only to see him lost for the year. Tackle Will Beatty, who tore a pectoral muscle in May, was supposed to come back and never did. Now Schwartz is gone and the Giants will be lucky to get Justin Pugh (concussion) back this week.
As bad as it all looks, head coach Tom Coughlin is not about to make excuses.
“You keep working. You keep fighting. You keep scrambling. You keep battling,” the coach said.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was under constant pressure from Washington, being brought down during the second quarter. He was sacked three times.Credit Patrick Smith/Getty Images
LANDOVER, Md. — The Giants refuse to conform. On the verge of prosperity, they wobble in the other direction. Dogged by adversity, they unexpectedly thrive. To the Giants, predictability is for losers, something they have now proved six times in 11 games this season.
When the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys played haplessly on Thanksgiving, each going down to demoralizing defeat, the path finally seemed open for the first-place Giants to grasp a commanding lead in the feeble N.F.C. East.
Instead, on Sunday, the Giants began their pivotal game against the host Washington Redskins with perhaps their worst half of football this season.
“We slept-walked,” the confounded Giants Coach Tom Coughlin sputtered afterward. “Whatever the word is.”
By the time the Giants awakened in the fourth quarter, it was too late. A rally made the game close, but the Redskins — 28-point losers a week ago — hung on for a clumsy 20-14 victory.
In the wake of the defeat, the Giants, who were coming off their bye week, were baffled by their own play.
“The first half looked like a bye-week hangover,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said.
Added defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul: “Terrible. We didn’t do anything in the first half. We had the chance to seal the deal today and didn’t.”
Washington’s victory obviates the story line that had been developing for the Giants’ season — the one that had the Giants in the most advantageous position to win the division and breeze to a playoff berth. The Redskins and the Giants now have 5-6 records and are atop the N.F.C. East with five games remaining. The Eagles are one game back, and Dallas trails by two.
There is much football left to be played, but Sunday’s game once again revealed that the Giants — despite a starting lineup full of talented offensive players — have glaring, unresolved weaknesses. Moreover, they are not getting any healthier. Another Giants starter was lost to injury Sunday when guard Geoff Schwartz broke his left leg.
The Giants’ pass rush, which had recently appeared rejuvenated, was nonexistent. The defensive front seven could not stop the Redskins’ running game, either. Pierre-Paul, whose presence in the last two games was credited with reviving the pass rush, was completely neutralized by the first high-quality left tackle he has faced this year, Washington’s Trent Williams.
Offensively, the Giants’ deficiencies stemmed primarily from an overmatched offensive line, which began the game missing two of its starters to injuries. With left guard Justin Pugh out because of a concussion and center Weston Richburg sidelined by an ankle injury, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 26 of 51 passes for 321 yards, was constantly under pressure and was sacked three times. As they have all season, the Giants struggled to establish a running game, especially after Schwartz went out, and finished with 33 rushing yards.
Odell Beckham Jr. scoring during the fourth quarter to cut the Redskins’ lead to 6 points.Credit Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Until the final 10 minutes, there was almost nothing good to say about the Giants’ performance.
Trailing by 17-0 at the half, the Giants finally showed a little life by driving down the field on their first possession of the third quarter. But on a third-down play at the Redskins’ 4-yard line, Manning threw toward the back of the end zone toward wide receiver Rueben Randle, who had broken open two steps earlier.
The pass was slightly behind Randle, and Washington cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who had barely caught up to Randle, cut in front of the pass to intercept it.
“Bad throw by me — I’ve got to put that in front of him,” said Manning, who threw two other interceptions, although each of those passes was deflected into the air by Giants receivers.
At the time, Manning’s third interception seemed like just another bad outcome in a game that appeared destined to end in a rout. Behind a generally effective Kirk Cousins, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 302 yards without an interception, the Redskins extended their lead to 20-0 early in the fourth quarter.
Then, in a stunning turnaround with 10 minutes 10 seconds remaining in the final quarter, Manning threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Randle on a fourth-and-16. About five minutes later, Manning lofted a pass toward Odell Beckham Jr., who dived into the end zone and made a spectacular one-handed catch to cut the Washington lead to 6 points. It was another acrobatic, circuslike grab for Beckham, who snagged the football with his arm outstretched about 18 inches from the ground. Beckham had nine receptions for 142 yards.
The somnolent Giants had new life with slightly less than five minutes remaining. But with an anxious home crowd looking on, the Redskins took the ensuing kickoff and all but ran out the clock to preserve the victory. A key play in the final Washington drive was a 20-yard reception by tight end Jordan Reed on third down deep in Redskins territory.
“That was the play, wasn’t it?” Coughlin lamented.
A crucial play it was, but it was not an isolated incident. It fit a pattern, one apparently discerned by most Giants opponents. The Giants’ secondary has had trouble defending the middle of the field all year, despite a rotating cast of safeties tried by the Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. It was more of the same Sunday, with Reed leading all Washington receivers with 8 catches for 98 yards.
Though Manning threw two interceptions in the first quarter, neither led to a Redskins score. All of the first-half scoring came in second quarter. A woefully ineffective offensive attack finally cost the Giants as Washington took a 10-0 lead on a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins and a 63-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to LeSean Jackson. Cousins watched as Jackson ran untouched past the reserve cornerback Jayron Hosley, who was in the game because of an ankle injury to the starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Then Jackson sprinted past Giants safety Brandon Meriweather, corralling the football on the run for the end zone.
Late in the second quarter, the Redskins extended their advantage to 17-0 when a screen pass to running back Matt Jones appeared to flummox the entire Giants defense, which had no defender in the right flat where Jones caught the football. Jones rumbled for 45 yards, a gain that eventually led to a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Cousins.
Afterward, Coughlin said he gave his players credit for their stirring fourth-quarter rally. But he reminded them of the opportunity squandered, a letdown that surprised Coughlin — just as his team has surprised Giants fans nearly every week this season.
“You can look at today and should have, could have, would have all day long,” Coughlin said.
With a look of exasperation, Coughlin added, “We have five games to go.”
A great weekend for the home team! Each of our division opponents went down in heart-breaking fashion, while we wiped the turf with the Saints on both sides of the ball. So bad was the pummeling, that there are calls coming for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s job. Check out this classic from the Times-Picayune:
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan must go — and he must go now: Larry Holder
Fire Rob Ryan: New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins 2015
A fan makes his feelings known during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday, November 15, 2015. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
LANDOVER, Md. — The New Orleans Saints have never fired an assistant coach during the season under Sean Payton. That has to change during the bye week.
It’s time to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It’s time for senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen to take over for the final six games this season.
The Saints made Kirk Cousins look like Tom Brady on his best day as Washington utterly whipped New Orleans, 47-14, at FedEx Field in one of the most embarrassing losses in the Payton era. The Saints displayed one of the worst defensive performances I’ve ever witnessed in Payton’s 10 seasons.
It was worse than any game I can recall — even taking into account former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s lone historically bad season in 2012.
Cousins went 20-of-25 passing for 324 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. The Saints entered the game yielding a 112.0 rating to opposing QBs for the season. Brady led the league entering this week with 113.5.
The Saints are allowing opposing quarterbacks to play betterthan the former two-time league MVP and four-time Super Bowl champion every week. How’s that for perspective?
The Saints’ tackling Sunday was horrendous. The players looked lost even covering rudimentary screen passes. New Orleans had no plan for stopping tight ends in pass coverage — as usual. Washington’s ground game pounded the Saints for 213 yards on 31 carries. The Saints sacked Cousins three times, but nothing truly affected him.
Washington piled up nearly 400 yards of offense in the first half. The last time the Redskins produced this kind of output in one half was when Doug Williams and Timmy Smith torched Denver in record-setting fashion in Super Bowl 22.
In fact, Williams, now a Redskins front-office executive, took a stroll into the Saints’ locker room after the game. No joke. Maybe the 60-year-old former quarterback wanted a shot at his native state’s NFL franchise. I’m only half kidding.
“Listen, it’s (the defense) is obviously a concern,” Payton said of a unit ranked near the bottom of every major statistical category this season. “It’s hard to win.”
Defensive end Cam Jordan didn’t speak to the media afterward. His body language said everything, though. Jordan sat at his locker, staring down at his fingers, seemingly searching for answers. Then he slammed his equipment bag on the floor.
I have no idea if Allen can make the Saints’ poor excuse for a defense any better this season. But having the Saints continuously riddled by mediocre offenses and mediocre quarterbacks every week isn’t the answer. That’s all we’ve seen from Ryan’s charges this season.
It’s evident Ryan is coaching his last season as Saints defensive coordinator. The Saints need some sort of change, a spark — anything. If they remain status quo, the Saints might as well pack it in this season.
Let’s talk truth. There’s no chance this defense will get any worse by replacing Ryan with Allen right now. How can it?
Payton avoided the topic of making coaching or personnel changes after the loss to the Redskins. That was to be expected.
“Again, we’re sitting here after a game … and we’re not going to discuss any of those types of changes, certainly not right now,” Payton said.
But I have to imagine pondering such a move is at the forefront of Payton’s mind heading into the bye week with his team 4-6 and the defense badly regressing week by week.
Payton already wrestled with retaining Ryan after the 2014 season when the defense dipped from fourth overall in 2013 to 31st in the league last season. Payton decided in early January that Ryan could be part of the solution. But the caveat was bringing in Allen, who served on Payton’s original staff and helped win Super Bowl 44 before moving on to become Denver’s defensive coordinator then Raiders head coach before being fired by Oakland. Payton brought Allen back into the fold to “change in dynamic.” Allen officially was given the title of senior defensive assistant. Unofficially, it was to serve as Ryan’s shadow.
The Saints embedded their potential Ryan replacement long before this season began.
Ryan is not solely at fault for the defense’s underwhelming performances the past couple of years. We can go through the litany of the scouting department’s poor talent evaluations on that side of the ball for days and days. That’s also a major reason the Saints’ defense seemingly is in rebuilding mode annually.
No, Ryan’s not solely to blame. But he’s in charge of Sundays, the most glaring times when this defense displays its ineptitude.
The Saints can’t fix the personnel problems right now. That can’t occur until the offseason. They’re stuck with the pieces in place and will have to ride with them the rest of the season. And even a substantial offseason overhaul is not a given considering the team’s cash-strapped situation.
Do the players anticipate any changes in coaching during the bye week?
“I don’t know necessarily what’s going to happen,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “But we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to win these games. We can’t allow this to keep happening. …
“I just want to win. Whatever Coach Payton and (GM Mickey Loomis) decide to do. I just want to be in a position to win and have fun.”
Veteran offensive tackle Zach Strief added: “No. I wouldn’t. Look, good organizations don’t make knee-jerk reactions to things. I don’t see that. But if it does, then it does. That’s OK, too. When you’re 4-6, you open yourselves up for that.
“Blame gets spread everywhere equally. But if that’s what happens, that’s what happens. That’s not something I think the players in this locker room need to sit around and think and worry about. That’s not our decision.”
Ryan’s departure wouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction, though. The proof is in the past two seasons. The most recent proof is in the past few games as the Saints surrendered 49 points to the Giants, 34 to Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota and most recently 47 to a Redskins offense that had been pedestrian at best.
Firing Ryan wouldn’t paint Payton in the best light, either. This would be the fourth defensive coordinator either fired or to not have a contract renewed in Payton’s tenure. This is on Payton, too, but some alteration needs to occur in the bye week.
The Saints showed no fear in adding Allen this offseason as well as making significant adjustments to both sides of the roster.
Ryan exited the locker room rather quickly after Sunday’s loss. Allen remained much longer, sitting in a folding chair in the corner of the defensive players locker room. Allen wore a look of bewilderment as he flipped through the pages of the final stat sheet. The numbers obviously weren’t pretty.
I doubt Allen sat there pondering how in the world was he going to breathe new life into the defense if handed the job this week.
But if the Saints are still playing to salvage a season that’s increasingly looking like a lost cause because of the underperforming defense, Ryan has to go.
After sitting out the previous two games with a concussion, it didn’t take long for Jordan Reed to make an impact when he returned.
Reed’s presence was obvious. Not only did he catch 11 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns, but his last catch was the game winner in Washington’s thrilling 31-30 come-from-behind victory over the Bucs. The Redskins lined up 4 receivers left, Reed to the right, and what looked like a good position and time for a fade, turned into a quick slant for a touchdown when Reed immediately planted, went inside, and too quickly for anyone to react. Cousins hit him in stride en route to the end zone, and the Redskins polished off the biggest comeback in franchise history.
Just click on the picture for a full 1440×900 wallpaper.
Trent Williams had some pretty high praise for Reed after the game, “You show me anyone in the league who can guard that man one-on-one. I haven’t seen that yet. As long as we’ve got him, we got a chance. He’s the best receiving tight end that I’ve seen.”
TAMPA— Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has suffered through some tough losses as an NFL coach. Few, he said, were as tough as the 31-30 loss Sunday at Washington.
“We’re in a dark place,’’ Smith said Monday. “We’re miserable around here.’’
Few could have been more miserable than Smith, who had to admit poor coaching was among the biggest contributors to a loss in which the Bucs blew a commanding 24-0 first-half lead.
Whether it was the onside kick that sparked Washington’s comeback, the failed run that kept the Bucs from putting the game away late or the touchdown that decided it, coaching factored into every facet of the outcome.
Start with the onside kick.
After cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-14 in the third quarter, Washington executed the first successful onside kick in the NFL this season. The Redskins scored again, cutting the lead to 24-21.
“We didn’t line up properly on that play,’’ Smith said. “We didn’t execute it the right way and that starts with us as coaches. We didn’t have the guys lined up in the right position on that play.’’
Smith would not detail the mistake, but the ball was kicked into a gap created when linebacker Danny Lansanah lined up 20 yards away from the ball and 5 yards behind the players on either side of him.
“You can look at it and see we weren’t lined up right,’’ Smith said. “…Obviously it was a big play in the game.’’
So was the fourth-quarter running play the Bucs called on third-and-goal from the Redskins 1-yard line with 2:31 remaining and Tampa Bay leading 27-24.
Thinking the Redskins would expect a run into the line, the Bucs opted for an outside toss to the left in which Charles Sims would follow the lead block of his fullback into the end zone. From the moment the teams lined up, though, the play was doomed as the Bucs failed to account for two outside defenders who quickly broke the play up and dropped Sims for a 2-yard loss.
Tampa Bay kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 30-24 lead, but the opportunity to take a two possession lead was squandered.
“We would like to have back that sequence. It’s as simple as that,’’ Smith said. “Ideally, the ball should go a different place. I’m just going to say we didn’t handle the situation. It wasn’t on (quarterback) Jameis (Winston for not checking out of the play) or anything like that. it started with us as coaches. We didn’t put the guys in the best position to be successful in that situation.’’
On the Redskins’ winning touchdown, a 6-yard slant pass to tight end Jordan Reed, the Bucs were positioned properly. The problem was their execution — or lack of it.
Just as they had earlier in the game, when Reed scored on a 3-yard slant, the Bucs failed to execute the proper technique against the quick pattern Reed ran against them. Instead of blaming his players for the mistake, though, Smith shouldered the blame.
“On a quick throw like that, you’re supposed to take it away,” Smith said. “Once you get down into the red zone, every team throughout the league, that’s what you do. You make them throw the hard throw, (which) is more of a fade, which is a harder throw to complete than the quick slant. It’s very frustrating. You continue to ask it and I continue to keep talking about, but with our players we haven’t gotten that point across yet.’’
The point Smith has tried make with players about penalties hasn’t gotten across yet, either. The Bucs were penalized 16 times for 142 yards during the loss and continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the league.
“It isn’t resonating yet, but it will in some kind of way,’’ Smith said of his message on penalties. “And some of the penalties you see you can live with a little bit. But you shouldn’t have that many. It can’t be that. But we’ll keep working on it, just like we’ll keep working on everything else.
“We had a six-point lead at the end of the game and all we needed was one stop. But that’s what we’re missing right now. Whether it’s composure or just somebody stepping up and making a play in the situation, that’s what we need.
“So, today, it’s miserable around here. It’s a dark day. But it won’t be for long.’’
LANDOVER, Md. — The question asked most often of the Buccaneers this past week — and it was asked even by some of their own players and coaches — was were they really as good defensively as their No. 5 overall ranking suggested.
The Bucs gave everyone their answer on Sunday during a sun-splashed afternoon at FedEx Field. And as their devastating 31-30 come-from-ahead loss to the Redskins proved beyond any doubt, it is an emphatic no. Not even close.
After all, top-shelf defenses don’t let a 479-yard effort by their offense go to waste, and they certainly don’t let a 24-point lead evaporate. But that’s what the Bucs defense did in creating yet another indelible mark on what is now a 2-4 record.
“All loses really hurt, but you have some that really leave a deep scar and this was definitely one of those,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “This one hurts about as much any I can think of. But, it’s supposed to hurt when you finish the way we did.’’
Hoping to protect a six-point lead with 2:24 to play, Tampa Bay allowed Washington to drive 80 yards in 11 plays. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Reed with 24 seconds left, and the extra point by Dustin Hopkins capped the biggest comeback win in Redskins franchise history.
But it was the way the Bucs started that made the finish so painful. With their running game humming yet again (30 carries, 190 yards) and quarterback Jameis Winton pitching at near-perfect levels (21-for-29, 297 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), the Bucs dominated the first half.
They took a 10-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, and after a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Howard Jones took a seemingly commanding 24-0 lead with just more than eight minutes left in the first half.
They peaked there, though, particularly on defense. Their inability to harass Cousins, adequately cover receivers or avoid drive-extending penalties, including four for roughing the passer or unnecessary roughness, slowly did them in.
“I don’t want to say we got complacent,’’ linebacker Lavonte David said. “They just found a rhythm offensively and were able to execute and make plays and capitalize on the mistakes we made, especially all those penalties. It was probably one of the worst losses ever.’’
It some ways, it was. Tampa Bay’s 479 yards on offense were the fifth-most in team history and most ever in a loss under Smith’s two-season reign. As for the 24-point lead, it matched the second-largest lead blown by the Bucs, who blew the same edge in a 31-27 loss to the Rams on Dec. 6. 1992. The largest blown lead in team history was 25 points in a 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Nov. 8, 1987 at old Busch Stadium.
But that’s no consolation to anyone on this this Bucs team.
This was the third time in as many games and fourth this season the Bucs, who were only ranked fifth because they had allowed 322.8 yards per game, surrendered more than 30 points.
“It’s one of those things that makes you wonder, ‘What’s the problem?’” defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said. “We had a great opportunity today, and we failed to take advantage of it.’’
Most troubling is the fact the Bucs spent the better part of the past two weeks working to correct many of the very mistakes that cost them their lead and eventually the game. After Jacksonville scored 31 points in a Tampa Bay win before the bye week, the Bucs re-evaluated the play of their secondary and made a couple of personnel changes back there. Included in that mix was the benching of veteran starting cornerback Tim Jennings, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday.
Clearly, though, the problems in the secondary run far deeper.
Even with cornerback Johnthan Banks back in the starting lineup, Cousins had the time and the space necessary to carve up the Bucs in completing 33 of 40 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
“To me, this game came down to us not contesting the ball when the ball’s in the air,’’ said cornerback Alterraun Verner, who played his second straight game at nickel corne. “We’re not coming down with the ball and the other team is. Either we’re not in position to make a play or we’re not making the play. That’s become the trend. We have to get our hands on the ball.’’
They have to get their hands on the quarterback, too — and legally. Though the Bucs hit Cousins seven times, they sacked him only once as Cousins used short drops and quick throws to offset the pass rush. Tampa Bay also was called for two roughing the passer penalities.
“I was moving around a lot, trying to find the one-on-one,’’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “They just kept switching protections on me. I was trying to find ways to free myself up, but collectively we just weren’t good enough.’’
Neither were the safeties. Chris Conte, who got his hands on a late pass into the end zone, but couldn’t come up with the interception. And Bradley McDougald allowed tight end Reed to beat him with a quick slant inside for the winning touchdown pass.
“When you get down close to the goal line, you make them throw a fade,” Smith said. “You don’t let them complete the easiest throw. We didn’t get that done today. And that’s normally what it comes down to, how you play at the end. And we had our opportunities. We just weren’t able to close the door.’’
Bidoo, bidoo!! The minions and all of #RedskinsNation joined together last night to celebrate the largest comeback in Redskins history.
It looked impossible when the Redskins fell behind 24-0 before the half, but they clawed their way back – largely on the performance of Kirk Cousins, who finished the day an impressive 33 of 40 for 317 yards. He had three touchdown passes and ran for another, and didn’t turn the ball over. On the game winning two-minute drive, Captain Kirk was an unconscious 9 of 11 for 75 yards.
Cousins himself offered, “It was a good lesson: Just keep playing and you never know what can happen,”
Amen to that.
Happy Victory Monday to all of #RedskinsNation and Hail!!
I thought that this week I would make DeSean Jackson the subject of #WallpaperWednesday. His status for Sunday’s game against the Bucs is still questionable, so I’m trying to send a little good mojo his way. And the Redskins way.
Because they sure need a dose of something.
Just click on the image for the full 1440×900 wallpaper.