"DC" Skins Postgame #8 - Haunting Loss

Being that yesterday was Halloween, it is fitting that this loss against the Lions is haunting for the Redskins. As I said, they had all the momentum and the opportunity to go into their bye-week at 5-3, with a winning record, on the thick of things on the race for the division, or maybe in the conference. Yet, they blew a game they had a great chance to win down the stretch... and now more uncertain about the future than any point in the season. And I didn't even mention the "Bench-gate" scandal that took place in the end of the game.

As expected, the Lions were a tougher out than their 1-5 record indicated. Matthew Stafford is a decent young quarterback, he came back from an injury, they have a talented defensive line, and they were well rested, playing at home, coming straight out of their bye week. 

Stafford looked rusty to start off the game, but luckily for them, the Redskins offense couldn't capitalize with their opportunities. It was a defensive battle to start off, with the Lions defense getting pressure on McNabb, and the Redskins making a few plays. If I can recall, the first points weren't scored until the 2nd quarter.

But, as when the scores started to come, it was a see-saw battle. When the Lions scored, the Skins countered with another score. The Redskins were able to get two quick field goals in the end of the half to lead by 6 at break.

Come the 3rd and 4th quarter, the battle continued. It was a pretty good battle. Score after conter-score, with nice drives, as well as defensive and special teams plays. It continued up until down the stretch, up until the end of the game. When McNabb got intercepted, and the Lions scored that field goal, even though they were down by 6, the chances weren't that good.

But, what really sealed it was when McNabb got benched for Rex Grossman with under 2-minutes to play still only down for 6-points. And in the first play, "Sexy Rexy" got sacked, fumbled the ball, and gave up the go-ahead score to seal it.

Before I give my opinions on that particular "bench-gate" incident, I want to talk about what I generally saw in the game. The Lions defensive line dominated the front line, as they totally destroyed that shaky Redskins offensive line. And honestly, the way it looked, it could have been A LOT worse. With the pressure they got on McNabb, it's a surprise he didn't get hit more, or leave the game injured. Not to mention, the Skins couldn't get the run going, and most of their plays that they made in offense were on the air. And, a lot of the scores they got were from good special teams or defensive plays getting them good field position.

So now... the issue with Shanahan benching McNabb. Like many people who saw it... I'm not buying his reasons. Yesterday, he said he benched them because McNabb didn't know the two-minute terminology as well as Grossman did, since he's been in the system a lot longer. After the press conference today, he said that he wasn't well-conditioned and that his "cardio" wasn't good enough.

As much as I don't like to say it, that last statement is kind of making Albert Hayneswoth look more credible with his issues with Shanahan earlier in the year, and makes him look like he uses "conditioning" as a trump card to give him an excuse not to play people. And, the fact that Haynesworth actually had another solid game yesterday, shows that he isn't as bad as Shanahan made him out to be earlier in the year.

Regardless, no matter what shape you think your player is in... if he's clearly the best player you got, you put him in down the stretch. And clearly, McNabb is better than Rex Grossman. He's more mobile, can allude the rush, and has been and thrived more in pressure situations than "Sexy Rexy". Even if he knew the terminology more, the fact that you put an immobile quarterback against a shaky offensive line that has been killed all-day long by that Lions frontline was a very questionable move.

As far as the reason that it was said that McNabb wouldn't have been capable of running the two minute offense because of his "cardio" or his capability... I don't buy that at all. He says that the Skins have never been in a two minute situation all year. Apparently, Shanny couldn't turn the clock back a couple of hours, because McNabb got some much needed 3-points in a two-minute situation before halftime. Sure, it was only a field goal, and it was earlier in the game when he is supposedly not as "tired", but still... he showed he's capable of doing what he needed to do, when he needed to do it.

Looking forward to the rest of the season, this loss, and the "bench-gate" situation can lead to two different results, both on the opposite sides of the spectrum...

  • One is (which is the one that most people I have heard in the airwaves are predicting), that this is a crippling loss, which will take the Redskins out of contention, and they will fall apart as the year goes on (adding all that to the fact that the McNabb negotiations have all been killed and this organization has to go back to square one, and be uncertain about the future again). 
  • OR... this loss can fire up this team, like how the loss to the Rams ealier in the year fired them up to win against teams that they are supposed to lose to. And just like that Rams loss, who do they play in their next game? Donovan McNabb's Eagles. Rewind back into last year, when Andy Reid benched McNabb in favor or Kevin Kolb. When McNabb got his spot back, he played his best football of the year and almost closed the year with a division championship (until the Eagles pooped it out against the Cowboys in the last week of the season, then in the opening round of the playoffs).

As someone who is normally an optimist, I'm inclined to think that the latter option is more than probable for the Skins. And realistically, I do think they can come back from this loss and do better. I hate sounding like an apologist... considering that they haven't really done anything mind-blowing so far in the first half of the season, but from looking at the schedule, it looks like they might've gotten the tougher games out of the way. IMO, the toughest games they have left are against the Giants twice, and the Titans. If they can steal a couple of those games, and beat the teams that they're supposed to beat (and yes, I predict the Buccaneers to slowly as the year goes on), they can get back in the conversation.

But, as we all know, the NFL is a week-by-week, "what have you done for me lately?" league. You're only as good as your last performance... and if the Redskins happen to bounce back after this loss and convincingly win against the Eagles, people will start talking about them again.

It's a shame though that they will not get that chance in another 2 weeks. Their next game won't be until Monday the 15th, so they have A LOT of time to think about this win... and the local media has a lot of time to stew on this loss and fill the airwaves with a lot of chatter. That's why I said that it was important that they get this win... not only for their psychological outset in these two weeks, but also, because of what I previously said, that this area is so linked to this football team, that when the team loses, the mood in this area is terrible. Therefore, most people will feel terrible during the first half of November. (I say "most", because this statement won't apply to me.)

As I last year, the President isn't dead... so all is not lost in DC in these next two weeks. But, if this city's football team can bounce back from their latest setback (which I can see that they are more than capable of)... then all will be much better again.


1 comment:

  1. John, what happened yesterday was a travesty. I think McNabb would have pulled it off, but even if he didn't... Rex Grossman? Come on, Mike Shanahan. You won two Super Bowls by avoiding crummy decisions like putting Rex in the game to run the 2-minute drill.