NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - INSIDE SLANT
With only Sunday's finale at the New York Giants remaining, the Washington Redskins are 3-12, a loss from matching the 1994 rebuilding project of rookie coach Norv Turner for the most defeats in franchise history.
But that ugly season was expected after the collapse in 1993 under one-year had man Richie Petitbon. This one has come after last year's 10-6 NFC East title campaign and with all the wanted starters back for two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan.
The Redskins, who won that first division title in 13 years thanks to a seven-game winning streak, have now lost seven straight heading into the rematch against the Giants, who overcame a 14-0 deficit to win 24-17 in Week 12 at FedEx Field.
"It'd be tough to go out with eight straight losses," said Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, one of seven current defensive starters who's unsigned for 2014.
The Redskins can cite the one-point defeats the past two weeks as progress after they hadn't been very competitive during much of the previous four games. Shanahan can say that his players haven't quit. But Washington's only victories have come over: 4-11 Oakland -- after falling behind the injury-riddled Raiders 14-0; Chicago, which was clobbered 54-11 last night with the NFC North crown there for the taking; and San Diego, thanks to a goal-line stand in the final minute.
The 7-0 tear that won the NFC East last December was the exception that proves the rule for this now forlorn franchise. Washington is 17-39 in regular season play otherwise under Shanahan, 78-129 (minus the 7-0 run and similar 5-0 and 4-0 spurts that produced wild card berths in 2005 and 2007 under Joe Gibbs) following Dan Snyder's 14 full offseasons as its owner.
Washington was a team that usually found a way to win during its glory days for Hall of Fame coaches George Allen (1971-77) and Gibbs (1981-92). Washington won five NFC championships and three Super Bowls during those 22 seasons. In 21 seasons since, they've won two playoff games.
For more than a generation now, the Redskins are a team that finds a way to lose, as they demonstrated yet again in Week 16 when they led the archrival Cowboys 23-14 at home with barely nine minutes left. Dallas' horrid defense, which had surrendered points on 12 straight second half series over three games, limited Washington to one first down during its remaining two possessions. Meanwhile, the Redskins' defense, which had held the Cowboys to seven points in the span of more than three quarters, surrendered 10 points and two critical fourth down completions, the second for the touchdown that won the game 24-23.
"Worst feeling in the world," said inside linebacker Perry Riley, who had teamed with Hall to dump DeMarco Murray for a 9-yard loss on third-and-goal before the running back beat them to the pylon a play later. "I'd rather how we lost to the Chiefs (45-10 in Week 14) than how we lost lost today. Fourth-and-goal at the 10, you've got to get a stop and we didn't."
The Redskins also didn't get nearly as a good a performance in his third career start from second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins, who passed for just 197 yards while posting a 71.2 passer rating compared to his 94.8 rating the previous week at Atlanta and a 104.4 mark in beating Cleveland in his starting debut in Week 15 of 2012.
"Kirk's ... been given a tough job to do and he's doing well," maintained receiver Pierre Garcon, whose 11 catches against Dallas gave him 107 this season, breaking the franchise season record set in 1984 by Hall of Famer Art Monk. "We just have to win as a team."
Include the 62-yard return that the Redskins' league-worst punt coverage unit allowed to set up the Cowboys' first touchdown and Washington is certainly losing as a team.
"If I had a solution, we probably would have started winning a long time ago," said receiver Santana Moss, whose nine seasons in Washington make him the senior Redskin.
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - NOTES, QUOTES
The Washington Redskins, 3-12, are eliminated from playoff contention.
The NFL Draft is May 8-10.
The Washington Redskins placed linebacker Nick Barnett on injured reserve and promoted linebacker Will Compton to the active roster from their practice squad, the team announced Tuesday.
The Redskins also signed free agent linebacker Adrian Robinson to their active roster and signed free agent tight end Gabe Miller to the practice squad.
Barnett (6-2, 228) appeared in 14 games this year in his 11th NFL season. He tore the MCL in his left knee while playing on the kick-return unit early in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Compton (6-2, 230) originally signed with the Redskins as a college free agent on May 2. He was waived on Aug. 31 before signing to the team's practice squad on Sept. 1. Compton played collegiately at Nebraska, where he appeared in 50 games with 37 starts.
Robinson (6-1, 250) originally signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a college free agent on April 30, 2012. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 23 this season before being waived on Aug. 30. He was acquired off waivers by the Denver Broncos on Sept. 1 and was waived on Oct. 15. He signed with the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 12 and was released on Dec. 7.
Miller (6-3, 257) was originally drafted as a linebacker by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was released by the Chiefs on Aug. 31, 2012 and had brief practice squad stints with the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears before spending the 2013 offseason with the Bears. He was released by the Bears on Aug. 25.
--Receiver Pierre Garcon not only broke Hall of Famer Art Monk's 29-year-old franchise record of 106 catches in a season in Week 16, Garcon leads the league with 107 catches with just one game remaining. Garcon is playing his first full season for Washington after signing as a free agent from Indianapolis in March 2012. He was bothered by a toe injury for much of last season.
Garcon also leads the NFL with 30 third down catches and ranks ninth with 1,290 receiving yards.
"It's pretty cool, but with the season going on like this, it's pretty hard to celebrate anything right now," Garcon said after the Redskins sank to 3-12 with their 24-23 loss to the Cowboys.
--Washington's only division loss of 2012 came at New York when cornerback Josh Wilson and then-free safety Madieu Williams were beaten on a late 77-yard bomb from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz.
Wilson, one of seven current defensive starters whose contracts are expiring, played a big part in the Redskins falling to 0-5 in NFC East play this year when he was beaten by Dallas receiver Terrance Williams for a 51-yard catch from Tony Romo on second-and-10 from the Washington 28-yard line with less than 3:00 left. DeMarco Murray scored the game-winning touchdown five plays later.
"We definitely had control of the game," Wilson said. "Romo got out of the pocket and started scrambling. You don't have a clue what he's going to do. I slipped. It's tough in those (wet and muddy) conditions."
--Inside linebacker London Fletcher has said that he's 99 percent certain to retire after Sunday's finale to his 16th season, but that doesn't mean that the four-time Pro Bowl pick isn't concerned about the Redskins' future. Fletcher has strongly endorsed coach Mike Shanahan's return to a franchise that has had seven coaches over the last 14 seasons.
"I think some stability would be great," said Fletcher, who finished with 533 tackles (301) solo in 56 career regular season home games at FedEx Field. "I think Coach Shanahan is headed in the right direction as far as the team (is concerned). Any time you go 3-12, you know there's going to be change, but I think the best thing would be to let a little bit of time pass, get away from the season, decompress, and then ... evaluate the situation, what's the best thing for the Redskins' organization."
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--ILB Nick Barnett was placed on injured reserve with the left knee he sprained in last Sunday's 24-23 loss to Dallas. Rookie ILB Will Compton was promoted from the practice squad to replace him.
--RB Alfred Morris needs to run for one TD on Sunday at the New York Giants to move into a tie for 10th in franchise history after just two seasons.
--CB DeAngelo Hall's interception last Sunday against Dallas was the 23rd of his Redskins career, one behind Hall of Fame S Ken Houston for ninth in franchise history.
--CB Josh Wilson's fumble recovery against Dallas was the 10th of his career.
--WR Pierre Garcon and Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown are the only players with at least five catches in every game this season.
--FS Brandon Meriweather's sack of Tony Romo was his first as a Redskin and his first since 2008 when he was with New England.
--WR Nick Williams' kickoff return against Dallas was the first of the undrafted rookie's career.
--OLB Brian Orakpo was limited on Wednesday after straining his right groin during the fourth quarter against Dallas.
--OLB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist) took full practice on Wednesday.
--FB Darrel Young (hamstring) took full practice on Wednesday.
--ILB Nick Barnett suffered a partial tear to his the MCL in his left knee. He'll won't need surgery, but he'll go on injured reserve. Undrafted rookie LB Will Compton will be promoted from the practice squad to take his spot.
REPORT CARD VS. COWBOYS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- QB Kirk Cousins' third start didn't come close to his first two -- during which he passed for 710 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Against a horrible Dallas defense, Cousins passed for just 197 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Eighteen of his 36 throws, 11 of his 21 completions and 144 of his yards went to WR Pierre Garcon, leaving everyone else with just 10 catches for 53 yards on 18 targets with no one producing more than two catches or 14 yards. Garcon surpassed Hall of Famer Art Monk as Washington's season record-holder with 107 catches. The protection didn't allow Cousins to be sacked in 39 drop backs. He was hit three times. Give Garcon an A and everyone else a C or worse.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- RB Alfred Morris had his moments but gained just 88 yards on 24 carries. Cousins, backup RB Roy Helu and WR Josh Morgan carried four times for 12 yards on a blah day for a Washington ground game that came in ranked third in rushing and second in yards per carry.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Washington's beleaguered pass defense kept Dallas' strong passing attack in check most of the day. Star WR Dez Bryant, largely covered by CB DeAngelo Hall, caught just four of the 11 balls thrown his way for 73 yards and a TD and was also beaten by Hall on a pass that became an interception. Ace TE Jason Witten had two catches for 13 yards. But over the final 9:06, WR Terrance Williams beat CB Josh Wilson for a 51-yard grab, WR Cole Beasley got free for a 20-yard catch on fourth-and-six to set up a FG, and RB DeMarco Murray got free of Hall and ILB Perry Riley for the game-winning TD reception from QB Tony Romo on fourth-and-goal from the 10. Romo was sacked by FS Brandon Meriweather and OLB Ryan Kerrigan, but the Redskins missed the pass rush of OLB Brian Orakpo, who strained his right groin early in the fourth quarter and didn't return. The Redskins didn't hit Romo except for the sacks. Wilson forced a fumble by Tyler Clutts and recovered the ball to set up Cousins' TD pass to Garcon in the third quarter.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Murray broke away for 43 yards to set up Romo's TD pass for Bryant that made it 14-6 Cowboys during the second quarter but managed just 53 yards on his other 21 carries. Murray did bowl over Hall on the opening 3-yard TD run but was strung out by Hall and tackled by Riley for a 9-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 1 before the game-winning play. Riley and ILB London Fletcher were active against the run as was SS Reed Doughty.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- The Redskins thought they were fortunate that Dwayne Harris, who ate them up on returns in Week 6, was inactive for the Cowboys. However, Harris' replacement, the newly-signed Micheal Spurlock returned Sav Rocca's first punt 62 yards to set up the opening score. Spurlock only averaged 17 yards on three kickoff returns as K Kai Forbath had three touchbacks. Rocca got good rolls on his other two punts. Forbath nailed three FGs in the mud, including a 47-yarder. WR Santana Moss averaged a solid 11.7 yards on three punt returns. Rookie WR Nick Williams was solid on kick returns.
COACHING: B-minus -- In the final home game for Fletcher and possibly a slew of other long-time Redskins such as Moss, Doughty, Hall and Orakpo as well as the entire coaching staff, Washington managed just two field goals in the first half and then couldn't hold a 23-14 lead over the final minutes. Coach Mike Shanahan again had some clock management issues and the decision not to go for two when trailing 14-12 allowed Dallas to kick an extra point to win the game with 1:08 left instead of having to go for two. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his unit had some communication issues. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's unit was stout until it really mattered and gave Romo too much time to find receivers. Special teams coach Keith Burns might never coach again after this disaster of a debut as a man in charge of a unit.