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For Redskins, Soul Searching Begins Anew


Give the Redskins an F for the L they absorbed in St. Louis when they so plainly expected a W.

Now let's focus on the letter B.

As in bewildered. Bedeviled. Burned.

The 30-16 loss to the Rams on Sunday followed a continuing pattern of breakdowns near the goal line, failure to extend drives and defensive lapses.

The Redskins lost to a team that had not won at home in two years, to a rookie quarterback, to a team that had lost 44 of its previous 50 games.

The Redskins (1-2) scored only three points in the second half while the Rams (1-2) scored on four of their five possessions in the final two quarters.

So the soul searching begins anew.

What is there to say about an offense that has produced four touchdowns in three games, that ran the ball not even a single time in the fourth quarter against the Rams, that converted one of its 10 third downs?

A lot, apparently.

"You're not going to be a new team together and come out in the first three games and be in midseason form. That's a no-brainer. I knew that from game one," veteran receiver Santana Moss said on Monday morning.

"Every game is going to be tough. It's not going to be easy. We didn't come into this thing saying, 'Hey, we're going to jump out here with a new head coach, new offense, new quarterback and we're going to roll through this season like it's nothing.' It's not going to be easy," Moss continued. "But we also know we're making it harder for ourselves right now with some mistakes. These games we've lost could have been a lot easier than it was but we made it hard for ourselves."

Neither feast nor famine seems to work for the Redskins.

In the loss to the Houston Texans, they couldn't protect a 17-point lead. Against the Rams, the early 14-point deficit created its own issues.

"When you start slow like we did and they get a 14-point lead, you're fighting your way back and it's tough and it takes a lot out of you," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "We can't give teams momentum early in the game. The first play in the game we kicked the ball out of bounds. Those things can't happen. You can't give teams momentum. You have to jump on them fast."

Except the Redskins jumped on the Texans. Who refused to stay jumped on and came back to win in overtime.

The Redskins have not scored a touchdown in either the first or the fourth quarter, so starting fast and finishing strong remain concepts and not concrete realities. They've scored only 13 second-half points, three in the fourth quarter.

Here's the line on second-half possessions against the Rams: Field goal, three punts, interception, end of game. The Redskins held (if that's the right word) the football for 10:30 of the second half. Their average possession time of 25:58 is the worst in the NFL.


This leaves the defense out on the field, wilting and not doing much to bail itself out. After three games, opponents average nearly 424 yards a game and 34:02 minutes of possession. The Redskins have given up 67 points – 46 after halftime. They continue to rank last in the NFL in total defense.

"That's shocking, because we've played good defense over the years," Daniels said. "That many points, the yards we're giving up, that's pretty sad for a defense of this caliber."

It's also a cry for help that the offense knows it must answer.

"When you have a defense as good as our defense, you can't have them on the field that long. That could be on us. They are on the field a little too long," Moss said. "We have to know how to convert third downs and finish drives and put up points so they can have a little cushion to be able to breathe. We're not putting up points and we're making the game harder for them."

The Rams converted seven third downs on Sunday. The Redskins have converted six all season. Six of 33 equals 18.2 percent. That's last in the league. Share the blame, fellas.

"We just have to put some of the mistakes behind us," Moss said. "That will help us convert third downs, that'll help us move the ball well, that'll help us attack the red zone when we can, and that's how we're going to be able to win games."

As simple as A-B-C? Hope so. Or there will be L to pay.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at and follow him on

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