October 21, 2020

Washington Redskins: Week Five Monday Recap after Heartbreaking loss to Falcons

The Washington Redskins fought back yesterday on two separate occasions before eventually falling to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Usually we would have been accustomed to losing as soon as Atlanta took a 13-12 lead and surely after the Falcons took a 19-16 lead with just 24 seconds left in the game; however, in the end the loss was even more painful at the end.

As Jay Gruden stated yesterday, “Ryan Grant just slipped and fell, it’s unfortunate” on the pick-six that ended the game. Today Gruden avoided explicitly blaming one individual for the end result as he understood that Kirk Cousins “had to get rid of the ball quickly” because “you don’t want to take a sack there in a big situation”. It was summed up best as “an unfortunate play” that kept the Redskins from maintaining their lead in the struggling NFC East. According to Gruden, Ryan Grant was running a stop route indicating that it was not an out and Cousins’ pass attempt was far too wide even if Grant does not stumble. Gruden called Grant a “developing football player” that “got a turf monster at the wrong time”.

On the injury front, Matt Jones suffered a toe sprain and will be day to day, Bashaud Breeland has a rotator cuff contusion and is pretty sore, and Trent Williams has a neck strain that will else be monitored day to day. Breeland seems to have the most serious injury as he could not even lift his hands over his shoulders today because of soreness, but Gruden hopes “with some good treatment he will be OK”.

Chris Culliver who could not go yesterday with knee soreness has seen improvement and will increase his work this week. DeSean Jackson and DeAngelo Hall will continue to increase their reps as their hamstring and toe injuries, respectively, continues to heal. Jordan Reed has improved but is still undergoing the independent testing, infamous in DC after the debacle related to Robert Griffin III‘s injury during the preseason. Gruden seemed a bit pessimistic about the complex concussion protocol which could keep Reed out for the foreseeable future.

On the lack of a running game after an early season strength, Gruden said that the team was not in “concert” consistently enough yesterday leading to a weak performance of 51 yards on the ground. To put it frankly, as it should be, Gruden said that “our blocking in the running game was not up to our standards”. The Redskins will face another tough defense next week in the New York Jets and Jay Gruden knows that “if we don’t have that part of our offense going…we’re not very good”.

On the continued questioning of Alfred Morris‘ role late in games, Gruden said that the team will continue to alternate all backs but the lack of a running game in general led to a diminished role for the Florida Atlantic product. If the team has to continue as a pass heavy, one-dimensional offense Gruden acknowledges that there was little success, possibly on the playcalling in general.

Speaking of poor play calling, Gruden bluntly and openly acknowledged that the screen to Jamison Crowder call on third-and-goal with a chance to go up 8 was “awful”. Even though hindsight is 20/20, Gruden admitted that such a play was “probably too conservative” although they had success on an earlier play where Crowder converted a third-and-10. “We had a lot of other good plays we could have gone to in that situation” including those that “give the quarterback a few more options”.

Gruden continues to express that Cousins is showing improvement week-to-week although there will always be ups and downs. More telling, is that Gruden said that Cousins is “showing enough to where we can work with him” so do not expect any kind of quarterback controversy in DC as the Redskins can be a “very good, solid offense with him [Cousins] at the helm”. Cousins is the man possibly for the rest of the season but certainly for the next four to six games.

After the Redskins defense had been ripped for not forcing many turnovers including zero interceptions during the first quarter of the season, they came through with two picks and three forced fumbles of which they recovered one. Although Washington was able to take away some scoring opportunities from Atlanta, Gruden said it was “deflating” to see the offense unable to turn the forced turnover into points. “We have to do a better job of once we get a big play” such as a turnover by putting their “foot on their throat and making it a bigger play”.

A theme that offensive coordinator Sean McVay discussed last Friday, Gruden concurred that the team has to do a better job in the third quarter of games.

On a positive note, Gruden applauded the job of Dustin Hopkins so far after his fourth career NFL game. Although Hopkins missed a 53 yard field goal wide right, “he made one [in] clutch, crunch time” which the rest of the franchise was curious about how he would preform in a “big-time situation”. Hopkins is more of a “total package” kicker because of his impact on special teams of consistent touchbacks to protect the Redskins weak special teams coverage.

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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