After seeing the Washington Redskins get thoroughly defeated by the Buffalo Bills 23-0 Sunday, there's plenty of blame to go around for the team's putrid performance. Where do you start?
On defense, Washington was unable to contain the Bills explosive offense, allowing 390 yards of total offense and further cementing the magical seasons of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Fred Jackson. After each touchdown, it was clear the defense grew more and more frustrated, such as when captain London Fletcher was seen exchanging heated words on the sideline with strong safety LaRon Landry after a series of missed assignments.
But the defense isn't the issue. The main culprit for Sunday's loss was the fact that their counterparts on offense couldn't make a dent on the scoreboard.
From the outset, every facet of the offense was in disarray. Receivers couldn't get open, the offensive line couldn't block and quarterback John Beck had a horrid day, posting a 53.6 passer rating. The Redskins offense made the Bills defense, who came in as one of the worst in the league, look like a top-tier unit. They allowed Buffalo to sack Beck nine times, which is particularly head-scratching considering that the Bills entered the game with four sacks total for the season.
In fact, the offense's ineptitude Sunday was more than just unsightly, it was historic. Before Sunday, a Mike Shanahan coached team had never been shutout, a streak that lasted 267 games.
"I've never been in that situation before, college or pro," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "It's a tough one to take."
Trying to pin down how this group handed their head coach the dubious honor Sunday probably comes down to many things, but one that sticks out is this: the Redskins do not have offensive playmakers.
Sure, they have solid players who can make plays from time to time. Jabar Gaffney? A professional. Anthony Armstrong? A capable if unspectacular deep threat. Niles Paul, Terrence Austin and Leonard Hankerson? Young guys who clearly have their coaches' support and have been given the chance to show what they can do, particularly due to the injuries at the receiver position.
But are any of these players scaring opposing defenses? Are teams gameplanning for any one specific player on the Redskins' offense these days? The only player who seems to pose consistent matchup problems right now is tight end Fred Davis, who has shown that he's too fast for linebackers and too strong for defensive backs to handle. While that's a credit to Davis and how he's carried a solid offseason into the regular season, the fact is if the Redskins are to be competitive, he can't be alone.
Washington doesn't have to look far to find the blueprint for what they'd like to be someday on offense. Plenty of playmakers reside in their division. In Philadelphia, the Eagles have the likes of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson as their go-to guys. Dallas has Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Felix Jones. Even in New York, the Giants have Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw.
To make matters worse, the Redskins have been the victim of opposing teams showing off their offensive weapons the last three weeks. They were gashed by Vick and company a few weeks ago, were wowed by the talents of Cam Newton and Steve Smith last week and couldn't corral Jackson Sunday, as the Bills running back ran to the tune of 194 total yards.
It sounds simple, but you either have playmakers on your team or you don't. It's been a common theme during the Redskins' three-game losing streak. They don't have a Calvin Johnson or Cam Newton-like player to call their own, and it's costing them dearly when they go against explosive offensive teams.
This past offseason, Shanahan made it clear that upgrading the defense was priority by the moves made in the draft and free agency. Based on what we've seen through seven games this season on offense, it looks like that unit could be due for the next makeover come the offseason.
The problem for Redskins and their fans is that they have to experience nine regular season games with this offense until it can truly be fixed.
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