Two weeks ago the Redskins had given everyone reason to
believe that this season would be different than most of the ones since 1992.
They would close out the season strong, returning to the playoffs for the first
time since 1999.
that remains a possibility. They're 5-5, have three more home games and three
winnable road games. But after losing to a bad, or at best, mediocre team at
home Sunday, it's hard to imagine Washington winning more than three games.
Before the Tampa game, it was hard to imagine the Redskins not winning four more
games, so things change quickly.
16-13 defeat to Oakland has certainly dampened postseason enthusiasm and cast
the Redskins in a harsh light. The sins have become glaring, such as turnovers,
lack of a pass rush and no No. 2 receiver. Those are season-long problems that
continue to bother them.
loss was among the worst considering games like this aren't supposed to happen
under Joe Gibbs. Especially not against Norv Turner, king of the close, and
ugly, defeat at FedEx Field. It's not as if Turner outcoached anyone; he didn't.
The Raiders did not look like a well-coached team Sunday. It's not as if the
Redskins did, either.
Certainly, Turner had to enjoy sticking it to owner Dan Snyder, with whom he was never close. Turner even considered quitting after one season with Snyder that ended in a divisional championship. It was that bad; that's not to defend Turner -- a guy I'll rarely defend as a coach -- but it is to point out how much he disliked Snyder. Maybe some of that sting has passed, but it's doubtful all of it has. That wasn't a factor in this game; what was a factor was Washington's inability to again make the right plays, or lose costly fumbles.
blame: The referees. It was easy to see that LaMont Jordan lost the ball
near the goal line. What isn't easy to see is if his knee hit the ground first.
It appeared he had been stopped and had the ball outstretched when it fell out.
But, again, did his knee touch? We don't know and replays couldn't show that.
Thing is, Washington benefitted from some questionable calls earlier in the
game, most notably the pass interference that was called against Taylor Jacobs
in Raider territory. The defender made a good play and didn't appear to even hit
Jacobs. Not that it mattered: one play later Clinton Portis fumbled. Also,
Raiders fans would have been incensed about the pushoff by Randy Moss in the end
zone. Redskins fans say good call. Raiders fans say horrible call. Who's right?
Point is, the goal-line play isn't the only one that should, and could be,
problems: Has Sean Taylor improved from last season? It doesn't appear so.
He still takes bad angles and is overaggressive biting on routes, as he did when
Randy Moss ran a corner route, leaving the middle open for Jerry Porter to beat
Lemar Marshall one-on-one. Middle linebackers often are asked to drop into
coverage in the middle. It wasn't man coverage. It was zone coverage that turned
into a man-on-man situation because the safety was nowhere to be found. Yes,
Taylor made a terrific hit on Porter. But what happened? Porter held onto the
ball so the hit mattered little.
play: After three seasons it's time to pronounce Taylor Jacobs a bust. The
kid seems to work hard and cares and maybe he's just rusty. But the Raiders
spent most of the day rolling safety help toward Santana Moss and Jacobs could
never get free in man coverage. The Redskins thought they had lots of receiver
depth before the season, but they were very, very wrong. They have one wideout
who threatens a defense: Moss. Beyond that, even with David Patten healthy, it's
a collection of third and fourth wideouts.
troubles: As usual, the Redskins lost the turnover battle and now are
minus-13 for the season. At least they finally scored on one, thanks to Chris Clemons and Lemar Marshall. Clemons pressured quarterback Kerry Collins into a
bad throw and Marshall returned the easy pick 17 yards for a score. Marshall, by
the way, played a very good game the pass to Porter -- which wasn't all his
fault -- notwithstanding. But Portis' first fumble prevented Washington from
possible points and the second led to a field goal.
game: It's not as if the Raiders played a good game. They didn't. They
committed 10 penalties, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown
and their top running back averaged less than two yards a carry. Plus they
failed a couple times inside the 10 to score touchdowns. Somehow, that was still
a recipe for a big road win, their fourth in the past 21 games. Unbelievable.
Mike Sellers plays with lots of passion and fire. Those traits have gotten him
in trouble in the past on the field. They did so again Sunday and the coaches
should have known better than to re-insert him shortly after he'd been decked on
a punt return. Sure enough he got tangled up with that same player on a punt
three plays later and was called for holding. He made it personal and that's
what costs teams.
back: Cornelius Griffin. The Redskins' defensive line has remained strong
against the run; it's their emphasis. But they lack anyone who threatens an
offense in pass situations. Grifin isn't a terrific pass rusher, but he is
strong and must be accounted for, which would be a big help right now.
woes: Derrick Frost has been up and down as the Redskins' punter. And he has
a knack for getting the best rolls outside of a five-star restaurant. But when
the Redskins have needed him the past two games he's produced short punts from
his own territory. Sunday, from his own 21, Frost got off a 30-yard punt setting
up Oakland on its game-winning drive. Maybe the Raiders would have scored
anyway, but make them go more than 51 yards for a score. Frost has a reputation
for this sort of punting. Tom Tupa's absence continues to haunt the Redskins.
drives: After Oakland tied the game in the fourth quarter, Washington
responded with two of its worst drives of the season, going three-and-out with
five incomplete passes. Can someone say 2004? This against a defense that
entered with a No. 24 ranking. Oakland's pass rush, and its defensive line, was
underrated; it's pretty good. But the Raiders' secondary? No. Mark Brunell and
the entire passing game did a terrible job. Brunell made a few plays with his
legs and didn't throw an interception, but he was inaccurate much of the game.
And why did he keep attempting passes to Jacobs? He was rarely open.