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Griffin says offense 'close' but 'close doesn't do it'

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Griffin says offense 'close' but 'close doesn't do it'

The Robert Griffin III of 2012 was back for some of the game on Sunday night in Dallas. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there consistently enough or for long enough to keep the Washington Redskins from falling to the Cowboys 31-16 and dropping to 1-4 on the season.

The Redskins now trail the Cowboys and Eagles, both 3-3, in the NFC East. Griffin said that the team would keep fighting.

“There’s no quit in this team, period,” he said. “You’ll never see us go out there an quit. I tell it to the guys every single time we’re out there, ‘If you don’t want to be out here to win, don’t come.’”

Maybe it would have helped if Griffin could have played special teams. The Redskins allowed an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a 15-yard touchdown drive. Dwayne Harris made both of the killer returns. That kept the Cowboys in control of the game at a time when their offense was struggling.

Griffin started off well. On the Redskins’ first possession he completed four of five passes for 42 yards and ran twice for 22 yards. He was confident throwing the ball and cutting upfield on his running attempts. However, in what would become a familiar theme for the night, the drive stalled and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal.

But after that first drive Griffin was up and down. He finished the night with 19 completions on 39 attempts, a completion percentage of 48.7. In his 19 previous career games he had completed fewer than half of his passes just once (vs. Steelers last year). Griffin threw for 246 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

“We’re close on offense but close doesn’t do it in this league,” said Griffin.

As noted, Griffin did look much better running the ball. He ran nine times for 77 yards and on top of that he drew two 15-yard penalties when he was hit late scampering out of bounds.

In the Redskins’ first four games, Griffin ran for a total of 72 yards. In 2012 he ran for 820 yards (an average of 55 yards in his 15 games).

“I just think we had the opportunity [to run] and I took advantage of it,” said Griffin.

“You could see that he moved better, you could see that some of that speed was back,” said Mike Shanahan. “He made some big plays running the football.”

Despite the special teams problems, the Redskins and Griffin still had a chance to take the lead after Alfred Morris scampered 45 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to pull Washington within five at 21-16. The much-maligned Redskins defense, which played pretty well all night, forced a three and out.

A 17-yard pass from Griffin to Leonard Hankerson got the Redskins into Dallas territory. Griffin ran for five yards to set up a first and 10 at the 30. But after a run for a loss of one and two incompletions, Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal and that was the beginning of the end.

The Dallas offense came alive and drove to a field goal to put the home team up by eight.

Then, on second and 19 from the Washington 11, Griffin went back to pass. He looked through his progression but backup defensive end Kyle Wilber came up behind him and knocked the ball out of his hands. Wilber recovered the fumble at the three and Joseph Randle put the game out of reach with a one-yard touchdown run.

Griffin held the ball for a long time, too long according to Shanahan. “Once you get back there you have to get rid of that ball very quickly,” he said.

“I went through my reads, the pocket collapsed, got hit,” said Griffin. I tried to hold onto the ball and they just got it.”

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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