Before we get into the nitty gritty and try to breakdown what all went wrong in the Washington Redskins Wild Card Round loss to the Green Bay Packers, it’s important to take a minute to recognize what was accomplished by the Burgundy and Gold this season.
After entering the bye week at 3-4 and with plenty of questions surrounding the future at quarterback and head coach, Jay Gruden’s team responded after a historic come-from-behind win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Redskins finished the season 7-3 to win the NFC East Division and earn a home playoff game.
At the beginning the season, the Redskins were a consensus pick to finish in last in the division. So to go from worst to first, even in a division as poor as the NFC East, is certainly quite an accomplishment.
But in football, there are no morale victories. The Washington Redskins storybook season came to an end on Sunday night at FedExField, a place where they lost just two games all season long. It’s on to the offseason for Scot McCloughan, who will have to negotiate a new contract with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ final game of the season.
1. Redskins Ran Into The Old Packers
Down the stretch the Green Bay Packers didn’t play like the team that had been a perennial favorite to get to the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers was inconsistent, Eddie Lacy was having a subpar year and the defense was floundering. On Sunday night, the Packers looked like their old selves again. On a hot streak, Washington ran into a team that got it’s stride back and they couldn’t keep up.
2. Redskins Can’t Protect Cousins
Throughout the season, the Redskins’ offensive line did a good job protecting Cousins. One reason he was able to have the success that he had was due to their support. The Packers were able to hit home not just when they dialed up blitzes, but also when they brought four. Cousins was sacked six times and fumbled twice, losing one.
3. Lack of Running Game
While Washington’s rushing attack wasn’t strong down the stretch, their willingness to at least continue to run the ball kept opposing defenses honest. Against the Packers, however, they lost some of that balance offensively. Alfred Morris, Chris Thompson and Pierre Thomas received just 16 carries, but did pick up 82 yards on those carries. Since the Redskins became so pass-heavy, Green Bay’s pass rushers were able to pin their ears back and come after Cousins.
4. Jordan Reed Finishes Strong
Certainly the team MVP for this season, tight end Jordan Reed was his usual self in the final game of the season. Reed finished with 8 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. Per usual, he was a matchup nightmare and was Cousins favorite target, being thrown to a team-high 15 times.
5. Redskins Can’t Generate Pass Rush
While Cousins had to move around quite a bit to keep plays alive, Rodgers was able to stand tall in the pocket, being sacks just once early in the first quarter. In the second-half of the season, Washington recorded 25 quarterback sacks, nearly tripling their season total. In the final game of the season, Rodgers’ jersey stayed nice and white all season long.