February 22, 2020

Washington Redskins: Week 13 Tuesday Wrap Up following division letdown against Cowboys

Even though the Washington Redskins still control their destiny in the NFC East and have everything “still available” to them, according to head coach Jay Gruden, they made their lives a whole lot harder on Monday Night Football. The Redskins had an opportunity to be a full game lead in the division and put Dallas out of their misery with an early offseason. Unfortunately, poor offense against the blitz, miscues from DeSean Jackson and Dustin Hopkins, and another ineffective ground attack foreshadowed a heartbreaking loss. On Tuesday, Gruden addressed the local media over a conference call as Washington now turns their attention to a road matchup with the Chicago Bears.

Despite Alfred Morris playing just eight snaps on offense, including no action after the first quarter, Gruden maintains that he is the team’s first string back. Gruden chalked things up, running back coach Randy Jordan‘s decision to utilize Matt Jones more, as how the game played out. Matt Jones averaged 2.7 yards a rush for 49 yards while Morris, on a third of the carries, finished at just two yards per attempt. “We didn’t get anything we wanted out of any [offensive] package” according to Gruden, clear from the total of three points on three turnovers forced by the defense.

Gruden admits that has a play caller it is hard to run plays if the team is averaging two yards per carry. Monday was really the first time that Washington did not completely abandon the run, possibly because they were not trailing much in the game. However, the only way to fix the dilemma of whether the ground game needs to abandoned or stuck with comes by simply fixing the run game in general. To me that starts with taking more deep shots with DeSean Jackson, at least five a game because the Cowboys safeties, the same for other teams, are able to help on tackles after just minimal gains.

Prior to DeSean Jackson’s mistake filled punt return, which he owned post game, the deep threat was frustrated with not getting targeted more down the field. Gruden agreed that there were opportunities for Jackson to beat the likes of Morris Claiborne down the field “but we just didn’t throw the ball”. This is not necessarily on Kirk Cousins has the Cowboys continuously brought pressure up the middle which was rarely handled well by the interior linemen including Josh LeRibeus as well as backs like Matt Jones.

Poor officiating were not the biggest reasons for the loss, but it was one of several contributing factors. Gruden is seeking further explanation from the league on Jackson’s fumble because it seemed that there was clear evidence that his wrist, and thus forearm, made contact with the ground prior to the fumble. Washington was also frustrated with an offensive pass interference call on Pierre Garcon where contact was initiated by the defender resulting in one of many stalled drives. It would not be surprising for Gruden to also submit the two pass interference calls drawn by Dez Bryant to the league for review. The first was against Bashaud Breeland even though contact was made within five yards of the line of scrimmage, while the latter was against youngster Quinton Dunbar who was probably less guilty of hand fighting than Bryant.

When the Cowboys did score the game’s first touchdown, Washington was NOT letting Darren McFadden score. However, Gruden did clarify today that if Dallas had converted the first down prior to the end zone then he would have called timeout and instructed his defense to allow the score to preserve time. It turns out that Washington did not even need much time to come back with the tying score to Jackson and the remaining 44 seconds actually came back to be the dagger. Despite the poor luck to allow a huge kickoff return and game-winning field goal, Gruden was of the correct judgement to let Dallas score instead of running out the clock which would have dialed back the drama greatly.

Injury updates out of the game served a major blow to the defensive line, which is already struggling to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Marquee free agent signing Stephen Paea will miss at least one to two weeks with a grade two tie sprain thanks to the turf monster. Jason Hatcher had a stinger, no concussion, after friendly fire from safety DeAngelo Hall and will get an MRI. Chris Thompson and Will Compton both have shoulder sprains. Compton will get an MRI, but Gruden does not anticipate missing any time.

Headed into a must-win road game against the Chicago Bears, Gruden thinks the Redskins “just got to stick with what we’re doing”. The former Bengals offensive coordinator is not second guessing his judgement and philosophy. For example, Gruden said immediately after the game that he did not regret putting Jackson back to receive the late punt and stood by those comments Tuesday by saying they will continue to rely on the speedster to provide a “spark” when needed.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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