ASHBURN -- The home locker room was nearly cleared out as Ricky Jean Francois placed a pair of Nike's with gold trim on his big feet and started sorting out what went wrong in the Washington Redskins' 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. As a small group of reporters gathered around the defensive lineman, Ricky Jean tried anticipating the opening question.
"Did you guys stop the run. Would that be anybody's question first?"
Sure, Ricky Jean, we can start on the ground as all ponder whether the 0-2 Redskins have the goods to get off the deck. Your thoughts?
"I don't know if we stopped the run or not, but t felt like they just game-planned the hell out," Francois said of the Cowboys.
The final stats show advantage, Redskins. The Cowboys only averaged 3.4 yards on 30 carries. Ha, numbers. Through three quarters, the Cowboys rushed for nearly 4.5 yards per attempt. When Washington's defense zigged, Dallas' attack zagged both with the run and rookie quarterback Dak Prescott's play-action passing.
Another rookie, running back Ezekiel Elliott, averaged 4.9 yards per attempt entering the final quarter and finished with 83 yards on 21 carries. Former Redskins RB Alfred Morris scored the go-ahead touchdown with a 4-yard run up the middle.
"At one point, we were stuffing them, we were getting them where we wanted to and then they went from inside runs to outside runs," Francois stated. "They adjusted to what they seen."
Francois also noted how Dallas effectively moved Prescott from the pocket. "They just kept running (bootleg), running boot, running boot."
The fourth-round pick completed seven of eight passes in the fourth quarter and finished 22 of 30 for 292 yards. Prescott's one carry? A six-yard touchdown.
"Not to take anything away from Prescott, but whomever the offensive coordinator is sitting upstairs did a hell of a job by seeing something, adjusting it and showing the kid what he needed to see to become a good quarterback and actually pull off this game for them."
Does that mean the Redskins didn't make the needed adjustments?
"We didn't. Let's be real. Let's be truthful. If we would have, Alfred (Morris) wouldn't have had a touchdown," Francois said. "...[Elliott] had a few big breaks. Those big breaks, if we actually would have adjusted and seen what they were doing quick enough, we would have had it."
The Redskins have lost three straight games dating back to their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers last season.
"The teams, even from the Packers last year ... every team that adjusts to us, we don't adjust to them. Every team we play against, it feels like they see something and then they pounce on it and keep doing it, and it feels like we're not responding to it."
Asked who's responsible for those adjustments, the veteran said, "I have no clue. That's the one answer I would love to know."
Talk of making in-game adjustments surfaced this past week after the Redskins failed to corral Steelers receiver Antonio Brown and Pittsburgh lead all teams in rushing for Week 1. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry said certain tweaks can be "difficult."
Francois took issue with the idea that making changes midstream is hard work.
"We're professionals, right? You move on the run, right? That's no excuse," he said. "Peyton Manning can sit down and adjust to everything you do and you don't adjust to him, you're not a good player. ...We have to be that team -- as soon as we see them make adjustments and they figure something out, we have to make those adjustments too. If we don't, I'm going to be right back here sitting in your face again as you ask me the questions of what happened or why this or why that."
The offense had its own issues even when presented with opportunities.
"We have to cash out," Francois continued. "We had turnovers. We was in great position sometimes in the game. We didn't finish."
Francois ultimately dropped responsibility "to the players and defensive coaches" as well as the corresponding people on the other side of the ball.
"There's a reason they drafted you. There's a reason they brought you in. There's a reason you play in the National Football League. You have to be able to adjust on the run."
Washington plays at the New York Giants next Sunday.
"If you can't adjust in the NFL, it's no way you'll win some games," he continued. "With the schedule we have, it doesn't get easier."