This time, the Washington Redskins gave up 28 consecutive points.
Before that, they gave up 21 in a row and in their first game allowed 25 unanswered. A 31-15 loss to the Chicago Bears dropped the Redskins to 0-3 and was another example of them finding different ways to lose.
”It’s been like three different kinds of losses,” veteran linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. ”Blew a lead Week 1. Last week, we didn’t stop the run defensively. (Monday night), we got ourselves in a hole and couldn’t get out. It’s frustrating, for sure.”
Don’t forget quarterback Case Keenum’s five turnovers in the Bears game. Rookie receiver Terry McLaurin lamented that ”it just stings because we felt like we’ve lost in three different ways.”
That’s not exactly a comforting feeling for a team that easily could find a fourth way to lose at rookie QB Daniel Jones and the New York Giants on Sunday.
This is a short list: basically just McLaurin, a third-round gem who’s already Washington’s best receiver, and maybe rookie undrafted talent Steven Sims, who has flashed on kick returns and added some spice to the offense. Aside from Keenum’s turnovers, the passing game has been effective in involving McLaurin and second-year wideout Trey Quinn.
McLaurin is the first player in the Super Bowl era with five-plus catches and a receiving touchdown in each of his first three career games.
”He’s definitely been the spark of our offense, and we’ll continue to work him into the game and get him more touches,” coach Jay Gruden said.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
On offense, fewer turnovers, an established running game and protecting Keenum, who will be the starter at New York whether fans like it or not.
”We can be better and we’ve got to be better,” Keenum said. ”It’s important to be consistent. You want that from your quarterback. It’s really important. I think it’s something that the entire team needs to count on. It’s my job to be the same person all the time and when you’re not, it’s tough.”
On defense, almost everything. The pass rush has been sporadic at best, coverage has subsequently struggled and the Redskins are on pace to be the worst third down team in NFL history.
”It’s a combination of a lot of things on third down,” Gruden said. ”I thought that might be our key, but we’ve had to score a lot of points.”
Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen returned after leaving Week 1 and missing Week 2 with a knee injury. Allen wasn’t the immediate difference-maker the Redskins had hoped, but he reportedly gave a speech in the locker room after the loss to Chicago and has taken over as the emotional leader of the team.
If there’s any hope of the Redskins turning their season around, it’ll start with Allen.
”I don’t know what team has been eliminated from the playoffs after three weeks,” Allen said. ”We’re OK. Everything we do is self-inflicted. We’ve got to do the small things right, and we’ll be fine. It’s not time to jump off ship.”
Keenum with three interceptions and two fumbles against the Bears reverted to the mean after five touchdowns and no picks in the first two games. But Gruden is shaking off questions about going to first-round pick Dwayne Haskins or rushing longtime backup Colt McCoy into action and sticking with Keenum.
”He’s No. 2 in pass completions, No. 4 in passing yards, he’s tied for fourth in touchdowns and he’s ninth in passer rating, so he’s done some good things as far as in the pocket and getting outside the pocket,” Gruden said. ”This is his first time in this offense, and he’s played against three really good defenses. No excuse. But I think he’s done some good things to show that he deserves a chance to get us out of this thing here this week against the Giants.”
Tight end Jordan Reed has missed a month with a concussion, though Gruden didn’t sound concerned about Reed retiring amid his fifth documented concussion in seven pro seasons. Cornerback Quintin Dunbar (knee) could be ready to return against New York.
The Redskins have allowed opponents to convert on 63.4 percent of third downs through three games. Even a talented defense can’t hold up when it can’t get off the field.
Because Gruden said he wouldn’t make any changes to his coaching staff or at quarterback, there’s no choice but to regroup and prepare for another division rival, only this time on a short week.
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