ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: Rex Grossman #8 of the Washington Redskins is stripped of the ball by Anthony Spencer #93 of the Dallas Cowboys in the final monents of their game at Cowboys Stadium on September 26, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 18-16. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Losing stinks, but losing to Dallas is 100 times worse. This week's edition of Chain Reactions looks at the many angles of disappointment in Big D.
It must be nice to be a pro football player, and not just because you make the big bucks and get free stuff. Those things are great I'm told, but what NFL players have over fans is the 24-hour rule. You know, letting the emotions of the previous game go 24 hours after the fact.
Fans of the burgundy and gold, on the other hand, will not easily be able to shake off the disappointing 18-16 loss in Dallas. Unless you are on a media blackout and work at home, it is hard to escape. Most Redskins fans are harassed by "that guy" who is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and has never been to Texas. He became a fan to get back at his parents because they would not let him use the car. The Cowboys were good when he was born.
The media is much tougher to avoid. Whether on twitter, TV or radio, every sports show is talking about Tony Romo's "gutsy effort" in rallying the Cowboys to victory despite never scoring a stinking touchdown. For those of you wondering, the FCC says they will not fine any of the members of the Monday Night crew for the obscene acts they performed while "analyzing" Romo's performance.
Meanwhile, Redskins Nation tries to turn the page and look towards the winless St. Louis Rams. In this week's edition of Chain Reactions, we look back at the many angles of what went wrong in Dallas and what needs to be fixed heading into Week 4.
Not So Committed
Last season, I opined about the lack of commitment to the running game. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was too pass happy, as I wrote in 900 words or more on several occasions. A new year and new personnel appeared to mean a new Kyle, until the fourth quarter Monday night. That is when the 2010 edition of the offensive coordinator showed up for a second straight week in the second half.
The Redskins finally hit pay dirt in the 3rd quarter with nine-play drive that finished with a Rex Grossman to Tim Hightower one-yard touchdown pass to make it 16-9. The next three drives featured 11 pass plays to two runs. The Redskins were not behind until the final desperation drive. If the Redskins' running game was a child, it would have abandonment issues. The final numbers show 37 pass attempts to 22 rushes.
Surely when Kyle speaks this week, he will point out short passing is like running in their offensive scheme, which his dad already did after the fact. I understand the league is pass happy, with 33 300-plus-yard games already this year, highest mark in league history through three weeks. However, Rex Grossman's track record and early results show he is not trustworthy enough to be winging it that many times against quality defenses. He has five turnovers in three games. I know at least he is not over-careless like that Tom Brady guy in New England.
Anyway, my point is both Shanahans talked balance in preseason. Now they need to show it.
Red Zone Woes
One thing trending for the Redskins' offense that has to be a huge concern is the red zone issues. After struggles in the preseason were written off as a lack of game-planning, the Redskins came out with a three-for-four performance against the Giants. Then they slipped to two for seven against the Cardinals and one for three Monday Night against the Cowboys. That is not winning football. Their third-down conversion is not good either -- 23rd in the league at 32 percent.
DeAngelo Hall Talks a Big Game
DeAngelo Hall has often asked to be left on the island. He was Monday Night on the biggest play of the game when Jim Haslett called a max blitz on third and 21. Hall was unable to stop Dez Bryant, who gained 30 yards and then got 15 more for a ticky-tack face mask. Hall went off on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's decision after the game in an expletive-ridden rant.
Hall did a lot of talk leading up the game too. You remember, saying he'd be getting in shots on Romo's ribs, which I applauded. He was being honest. That is business as usual in the NFL. Some had said he shouldn't have said it. This is who Hall is, for better or worse. He makes big plays and gives them up. He and Haslett will hug it out, cuss it out or however they do it. I have no problem with him questioning the call after an emotional loss.
I do have a problem with him whining about being left out there without help though. You say all the time you want to be that guy. Your coach, whether right or wrong, gives you the opportunity and you do not execute. Bottom line: your assignment is to make the play. You didn't.
Gamesmanship Goes Both Ways
The Redskins were not happy about the roof being open at Jerry World Monday night, causing cramping and slipping on the field. Did they not have alternative shoes? Dallas was playing in the same conditions, right? This is the same organization that used to open the doors at RFK Stadium when opposing field-goal kickers were kicking.
Well, it turns out the Redskins may have been involved in their own form of gamesmanship. Romo claimed the Redskins were simulating the Cowboys' snap count.
"Costa said the D-line kept calling out the snap count," said Romo. "We'll get that worked out. We'll tell the league and see if that's something that can be fixed because you're not supposed to be able to do that. So we'll see."
And here I thought Cowboys center Phil Costa, a former Terrapins star, was just a big Redskins fan. Here is my position on both of these issues: shut up and play! There is no room for crying in football! Oh yeah, and the Redskins and Cowboys rivalry is back on!
Defense Doing Their Job
There are certainly those that are already saying same old sorry Redskins. However, I'm not (unless they lose to the Rams), because there are plenty of positives through first three weeks. Defensively, the Skins are No. 1 in the NFL in third down conversions, holding opponents to 22 percent through three weeks. Despite all the passing numbers being put up around the league, the Redskins have yet to allow a 300-yard passing performance.
The run defense has looked a little shaky the past two weeks with Beanie Wells getting close to 100 yards on six yards per carry and Felix Jones racking up 115 on eight yards per carry. The defense should get better with LaRon Landry back in the lineup too. He was flying all over the place on Monday night. Haslett's unit is much improved this year and probably will win a game or two this season if the offense does not give it away. Balance please.