The Washington Redskins lost to the San Francisco 49ers 19-11 yesterday. 8 of those 11 points for the Redskins came in trash time when the 49ers weren’t playing a pressure-based defense.
Unlike last week when the Redskins yielded what eventually became a franchise worst 10 sacks to the Buffalo Bills, the Redskins only allowed 1 sack yesterday and John Beck wasn’t pressured or hit any more than a quarterback usually is. But when you take that into consideration, it’s fair to place more blame on Beck this week than what was directed at him last week.
So how did John Beck play? 30 of 47 for 254 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception. But if I’m not mistaken, 117 of those yards came in the 4th quarter, and a bulk of them on the scoring drive in trash time. And 14 of the passes went to Roy Helu (a franchise record which beat out the likes of Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk), for 105 yards. There were a lot of times that Beck held onto the ball for far too long, but locked in on his primary target and didn’t read anyone else in his progression. Other times, it seemed like he got rid of the ball way too soon, and it left a lot of us wondering why he didn’t let routes develop. He constantly dumped the ball off to Helu, who was his only security blanket, and while a lot of people will try to make a case for him not being familiar with Leonard Hankerson (who got his first start yesterday) yet, I’ll break down why that doesn’t work later on.
Roy Helu played an incredible game, and I saw a lot of fans on Twitter wanting to take away his franchise record for receptions because it was dump-downs in a loss and beat out the greatest WR to ever play for the Redskins. No, Helu went out and did what he personally had to do, and that was run routes and take what was given to him. His record is his record and no matter how upset fans are that our all-time great was toppled, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be proud to have a running back who can contribute that well in the passing game. Helu himself said after the game when informed he set the record, “I didn’t know that. I don’t even care to be honest with you.” And when asked about his footing on the field at times, Helu replied, “I’ve just got to be better. There’s no excuse for that whatsoever.” Perhaps the most telling and likeable quote came when, asked to evaluate his own performance, he replied, “We struggled to move the ball down the field today as a team…. I gotta move the ball down the field and I didn’t do that today. I put the inconsistency on me.” For those who don’t gather well, he took the blame for the team’s inconsistency, and shouldered it himself.
Outside of Helu, the passing game was nonexistent, and while I did agree Beck should take more blame this week, he also delivered some very good passes (even a couple to Helu) which receivers just dropped or never fought for position on. The 1 interception came on a pass that led Fred Davis to the sidelines on a post. Fred didn’t explode out of his break to sell the inside route, and he didn’t appear to have the speed he usually has in tracking the ball down and got beat to the spot. Davis dropped his only 2 other targets of the first 3 quarters. Terrence Austin also dropped consecutive passes and also coughed the ball up once on a drive where the Redskins appeared to be finding a groove. The only consistencies outside of Helu were Hankerson and Jabar Gaffney, neither of whom were targeted enough, especially for how open they were getting all day.
Now on to Leonard Hankerson. After the Carolina game, a lot of people made this huge deal about the INT in the 4th and blamed Hank for it, and were calling him a bust and asking for his release (and his head). I wrote my thoughts here. Well, last week against the Bills, Hankerson played pretty well, and people noted that he had a drop or two, but for the most part, he was getting open a couple times and Beck wasn’t seeing it because of the pressure. Yesterday, Hankerson was targeted 5 times, and walked out of the game with 4 receptions. The incomplete was a great play by the defense with a bad throw by Beck on 3rd and 4. Hankerson bobbled one of those receptions, but showed excellent awareness and pulled it back in. Another, he turned on a sluggo-hook with the ball only a yard away from him before he turned around, he was able to locate it and leap into the air stretched out to make an excellent hands catch. Hankerson also moved the chains, and while Mike Shanahan insists the zone was meant to take everything away from us, I rarely saw a play where Hankerson wasn’t open by 3-4 steps and finding holes in zones that Beck could have, and should have taken advantage. Also, Hankerson was running perhaps the best routes I’ve seen by a Washington Redskins WR not named Santana Moss in over 15 years… go back and watch the tape and contest that if you want to.
The offensive line played pretty well. They were extremely explosive in the run and gave Beck a lot more time than he took advantage of having. Montgomery being back at Center is a clear upgrade, solely because of his pre-snap reads. And having a guard who can play guard better than Montgomery is far more beneficial in both phases of the offense. With a little more consistency, this group should really elevate. Montgomery spent a little more time devoting some help to Hurt, but I felt Hurt held his own fairly well a lot of the game, although he surrendered some hits early against Beck, he seemed to settle down well. When they didn’t shift Montgomery’s help to Hurt, the entire line looked to be a lot better, and I don’t think I was wrong earlier when I said Montgomery may be one of the better Centers in the league.
Defensively, I thought the team played very well. It’s hard to not surrender those field goals when the 49ers average start of possession was the 40 yard line. But the fact that only 1 touchdown was yielded on a pass, and not even a run to the 49ers, I think the defense played a lot better than they’ll be credited. I still maintain they’re too tired by the 4th quarter every game anyways, as anyone would be, and they’re still built to pressure QB’s when playing with a lead, which they won’t be given, so criticism on the defense needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Kerrigan and Orakpo played stout vs. the run, and set the edges well, and McIntosh and Doughty both missed gimme tackles in the backfield on Gore on his 2 longest runs, which was of no fault to anyone else on the defense other than those 2 guys on those plays.
Brandon Banks continues to stumble. I know he wants to take advantage of his opportunities, and we know he has big play potential, but the past few weeks, his 1 big play-per-game isn’t enough at the moment. Both Mike Shanahan and Danny Smith have suggested it’s still a team effort, and Brian Mitchell said it looks like blocking is the problem (and I trust his analysis in the area) but Banks is still muffing kicks, and that’s something that he needs to eliminate because he’s clearly thinking too much instead of just reacting.
Graham Gano went out yesterday and got himself a 59-yard field goal, against the wind, and he said after the game that he didn’t think he got all of the kick. And for those keeping record, that 59-yarder is also a Washington Redskins franchise record, and ties for 10th longest in NFL history. It upset me that there were a couple instances in the game where on 4th and medium from within that range, they didn’t try to kick FG’s with enough time to get the ball back and potentially make it a game. Never know what those points could have done for us.
As far as coaching, I’ll break that down later in the week. I’ve got a piece planned which should really humble a lot of you who refused this week to place blame on Kyle Shanahan because he tickled your balls early on in the game and you felt that made up for everything previous and after, and will also address a lot of you who throw these brain-dead comments out about certain players and coaches thinking you know what you’re talking about. As always, feel free to comment here, or follow me and hit me up on Twitter.