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Tuesday Take: The Best Loss of the Year

Tuesday Take: The Best Loss of the Year

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

Yeah, I know. It’s all about winning. Joe Gibbs will tell you that. Every other coach from Al Saunders to Bob Saunders will tell you that. Every player from Albright to Yoder will say the same thing.

Still, all losses are not created equal. There are good losses and there are bad losses. That’s the case when you are in playoff contention and it’s especially true if you are eliminated, as the Redskins are. The elimination became official when the game ended on Sunday—the Redskins can’t finish any better than last in the division as the Eagles and Giants hold all of the tiebreakers even if one of them finished 7-9 and a team that’s 4th in its division can’t be a Wild Card—but it has been waiting to become official ever since the Redskins lost to the Tennessee Titans on October 15.

Ever since then, the Redskins have had a string of ugly losses. They withered in the second half in Indianapolis, they were utterly unproductive offensively in Philly, they got run over by a weak Bucs team, and they couldn’t keep a reeling Falcons team down despite holding a 14-0 lead at home.

On Sunday, they seemed to be headed to another bad loss. After a crisp opening drive the turnover bug bit. Jason Campbell didn’t see a linebacker and the Philly pick in Redskin territory set up one touchdown. Safety Michael Lewis returned a tipped ball for another. It looked like the defense might be packing it in after Jeff Garcia completed a long pass to Reggie Brown and the Eagles easily completed the drive to make it 21-3. A collapse to a 30+-point loss seemed to be in the offing.

But the Redskins didn’t let it happen. Campbell and the offense cobbled together a drive to a field goal before halftime to make it 21-6. That was the first of four scoring drives in their next five possessions. The Redskin defense tightened up, forcing two three and outs. After Jason Campbell scrambled to set up a first and goal at the three with the score 21-16 it looked like the Redskins would come all the way back.

But they did not. The last seven minutes of the game demonstrated why the Redskins will finish with a losing record for the eighth time in the last 15 years. They had stuck with giving the ball to Ladell Betts, who has having a career day, even when they were down by 18, right up until they got that first down at the three. In three plays their best offensive weapon got zero touches. A penalty and a sack precluded going for it on fourth down. And then, after having held the Eagles in check for most of the second half, the Washington defense let up, allowing Philly to get a couple of first downs and kill the clock without giving Campbell a chance to try to rally the team to a game-winning field goal.

It was the season in a nutshell. Questionable play calling, confusion leading to a dumb penalty, bad luck (Chris Cooley was the primary receiver on the second and goal pass but he stumbled), and the inability to get a key defensive stop adding up to not getting it done.

Still, the good thing was that they were in a position to blow the game at the end. Again, that sounds dumb, but in a season like this one it’s reality. You’d like to think that players making six- and seven-figure incomes wouldn’t mail it in no matter what the score in a game or the situation in a season. But the stark reality is that they do (did anyone see the Rams last night?).

The game also could have been a key in the development of Campbell. He rebounded from a dreadful first half to post a QB rating of 118 in the final 30 minutes. His TD pass to Antwaan Randle El was as perfect as his first interception was ugly.

Tough times don’t mold character, they reveal it. At 21-3, this game was as much of a gut check as being down by four in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. The Redskins passed the test, even though they revealed some of their many flaws in doing so.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. It makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the Redskins fans on your shopping list. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - A.J. Francis talks Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky and Kirk Cousins

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@Francis_Sports

New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - A.J. Francis talks Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky and Kirk Cousins

Redskins defensive lineman A.J. Francis opens up to JP Finlay on what it's like to play for Jay Gruden, his pick for defensive coordinator, and the latest on Kirk Cousins' contract.

Listen below, and if you'd like to hear more from Francis, check out his pro wrestling podcast Jobbing Out Show here

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

Redskins set to interview new defensive coordinator candidate in Dennis Thurman, per report

The Redskins have conducted interviews with a number of candidates at defensive coordinator, but a new name emerged Thursday morning. 

Thurman played cornerback in the NFL for nine years from 1978 to 1986, recording 36 career interceptions in 137 games. The bulk of his playing career was spent with the Dallas Cowboys, but he played his final season with the then St. Louis Rams. 

In coaching since 1988, Thurman's coaching career started working with the secondary for the Cardinals before an eight-year run at his alma mater, Southern Cal. From there, Thurman came back to the pros, joining the Ravens coaching staff in 2002 working under Rex Ryan. In 2008, Thurman moved on with Ryan to the New York Jets, and in 2013, was named Jets defensive coordinator In 2014, he went to Buffalo with Ryan to serve as their defensive coordinator when Ryan was named head coach.

In four seasons as a coordinator, two in New York, two in Buffalo, Thurman's defenses ranked no worse than 19th, per Pro Football Reference.

A football lifer like Thurman likely has connections all over the league, but it's interesting to note he has worked with new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn since 2009. The two were on staffs both with the Jets and the Bills. Another Redskins coordinator candidate Gus Bradley has often been linked with Lynn, though the two have never been on the same staff.

Meeting with Thurman will satisfy the NFL's guidelines to interview minority candidates for coordinator positions. The Rooney Rule, as it was instituted, requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs, but only suggests that teams extend the practice to coordinator positions. Washington had set an interview with Carolina's Steve Wilks, but then he was promoted internally to be the Panthers defensive coordinator and the meeting never took place. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!