Washington Redskins latest loss should not be blamed on the defense

Photo Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

The Washington Redskins suffered a 33-19 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8. The Redskins’ defense had a tall order trying to contain the Cowboys’ prolific offense. Dallas has an abundance of playmakers on offense, led by quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott and Elliott enjoyed outstanding rookie seasons last year, with Prescott winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Elliott leading the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. Factor in established veterans like wide receivers Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and it’s easy to see why Washington’s defense would have its hands full.

In reality, Elliott was the only Cowboy that reached the end zone on offense, scoring two rushing touchdowns in the first half. The Redskins held the Cowboys’ offense to four field goals in the second half while keeping the game close. Considering those circumstances, Redskins’ fans can’t really ask for anything more from their defense.

Sadly, it was the offense and special teams units that let Washington down. The Redskins had a field goal blocked and returned 85 yards by Cowboys’ cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Running back Chris Thompson fumbled a kickoff that was recovered by Dallas, who converted the miscue into a field goal.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lost a fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by the Cowboys and converted into a field goal. Washington placekicker Nick Rose missed an extra point attempt after Cousins threw a touchdown pass to maligned wide receiver Josh Doctson. With Dallas leading 26-19, Cousins threw an interception that was returned 21 yards for a touchdown by Cowboys’ cornerback Byron Jones. That sealed the victory for Dallas.

It’s hard enough to beat the Cowboys playing nearly mistake free football. When you turn the ball over like Washington did, you have no chance. Those miscues lead directly to 20 Dallas points, which provided the margin of victory for the Cowboys.

The Redskins have no time to dwell on this game now. They have another daunting task ahead of them in the Seattle Seahawks. Qwest Field in Seattle is one of the NFL’s most intimidating venues. If the 3-4 Redskins are to salvage their season and regain some confidence, this is a game they must win. Only time will tell if Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden can come up with a game plan efficient enough to pull off the upset.

 

Another bitter pill for Washington Redskins to swallow

Photo Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Even the most ardent Washington Redskins’ fan had to admit that beating the Dallas Cowboys at Fed Ex Field would be a tall task. The Redskins were without three of their starting offensive linemen, and fielded an offense that has regressed considerably in 2017. A win over their biggest rival would send a statement that the Redskins are a team to be reckoned with. It would also make the sub .500 Washington teams a thing of the  past.

Unfortunately, special teams miscues and three Washington turnovers propelled them to a 33-19 loss, sending their record to 3-4. A blocked field goal by Cowboys’ defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was returned 85 yards by Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys made the Redskins pay as star running back Ezekiel Elliot scored on a one yard run to put Dallas ahead 14-13.

The injuries would continue for Washington as they lost tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul in this game. The defense was put into several tight spots, trying to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone after Redskins’ miscues and offensive inefficiency. However, the defense employed a bend but don’t break approach, keeping the prolific Dallas offense out of the end zone in the second half.

Washington’s main problems are their lack of consistency. Many felt the team made a mistake letting wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson leave via free agency. The Redskins gambled that wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson would provide near similar results to the over 2,000 receiving yards that Garcon and Jackson produced for the Redskins in 2016.

So far, it’s been a gamble that hasn’t paid off. Pryor has been invisible, seeing very little action against Dallas (he had zero catches). Doctson dropped a key third down pass that would have earned Washington a first down. While Doctson did catch a one yard touchdown pass, it was too little too late as that was Doctson’s only reception for the game. It’s par for the course for Doctson, who’s been an underwhelming presence at wide receiver for the Redskins.

This was a game that Washington had to win to not only save their season, but to gain confidence in themselves. Three Redskin turnovers and overall offensive inefficiency doomed them once again. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as Washington must travel to face the Seattle Seahawks next week. The Seahawks recorded a thrilling 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8. Washington is in need of a quality win to regain some confidence. For now the banged up Redskins will take this time to heal and get ready to head for the great Northwest.