The Washington Times - November 20, 2013, 10:08PM

Some thoughts and observations after reviewing the Washington Redskins’ 24-16 road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday:

* A loss is a loss, but some hurt more than others – and this one definitely did. By falling to the Eagles, a divisional opponent, with their playoff chances already miniscule, the Redskins tossed the first handful of dirt on their season. What coach Mike Shanahan suggested a year ago will be true for the final six games: The Redskins will evaluate which players will be on the team for years to come.

* Colleague Brian McNally touched on this topic earlier in the week, but I thought the Redskins’ locker room after the game was the most fractured it has been in my two-plus seasons covering the team. The allegations by left tackle Trent Williams that umpire Roy Ellison swore at him definitely polarized the players in his immediate area, with some telling him to be quiet so he wouldn’t get fined by the league and others telling him to be quiet because it would look like the team was blaming the loss on the officiating. There were also instances of some players leaving the locker room as soon as they could so they wouldn’t have to answer questions, and wide receiver Pierre Garçon also insisted he was injured so he wouldn’t have to talk – then, when told that wasn’t permissible, chose to answer questions with haste. One player I spoke to, who I’ll keep nameless but was quoted heavily after the game, didn’t like that some of his teammates who are perceived as leaders were not willing to face reality afterward.

But hey, as we learned on Wednesday, everything’s cool.

* It’s no secret that quarterback Robert Griffin III steps up in big moments, and he did so again in the fourth quarter on the final drive. The question, though, is where that urgency goes during the first, oh, 56 minutes of the game. Unlike in previous games, when Griffin is cool and calm in such situations, he frequently overthrew his targets on this drive (I counted five of his nine incompletions, not including the interception, as overthrown).

What I thought was most noteworthy was how much Griffin missed tight end Jordan Reed, who left the game at halftime with a concussion, on that final drive. Reed and Garçon have formed a nice inside-outside combo on such drives; Reed, given his height and length, has an ability to grab anything thrown anywhere near him on the seams and between the hash marks. On Sunday, that role fell to slot receiver Santana Moss; tight end Logan Paulsen, stepping in for Reed, wasn’t targeted once.

A few other notes on that last series:

- Garçon’s facemask penalty on Eagles cornerback Cary Williams was inexcusable. I know Williams is a hothead, and he undoubtedly said something that ticked Garçon off, but for Garçon to grab his facemask for several seconds and cost his team 15 yards is something I’m certain did not go over well when the film was reviewed on Monday.

- The Redskins started the season struggling to convert on third down, yet they converted on third-and-25 with a completion to Moss on a crossing route. Griffin did a very good job of stepping up in the pocket and driving on that throw, and Moss did what he typically does best (though what he hasn’t done well at all this season) and make a crucial grab.

* With wide receiver Leonard Hankerson out because of a torn LCL in his left knee – it was determined Wednesday he’ll undergo surgery, likely putting him out for four to six months and putting his availability for the start of offseason workouts into question – the Redskins needed wide receiver Aldrick Robinson to step up. Robinson has been inconsistent this season, but came through with two catches – including a 41-yarder for a touchdown with 5:57 remaining. Wide receiver Joshua Morgan should reclaim his role as the top Z receiver this week after being inactive against the Eagles, but Robinson’s limited role should grow.

* Young did a very good job of not giving up on the play with 12:56 remaining, when he ran to the left flat, had nothing and then released downfield. He eventually was able to slip between outside linebacker Trent Cole, who’s as unfamiliar in coverage as one can get, and free safety Patrick Chung. Griffin, looking first to Young and then over the middle of the field, tried to scramble but had the hole plugged by defensive end Fletcher Cox. He looked back to Young and threw, leading to the 62-yard touchdown reception.

Even more impressive, in my book? Young crossed the goal line, doubled back and ran to the sideline without an exaggerated celebration. That’s how it should be done when a team is being throttled.

* The unofficial running tally: The Redskins offered 15 zone-read looks on Sunday. Griffin threw the ball five times and carried it five times, and two other runs were scrambles on play action. Running back Alfred Morris carried it four times, while running back Roy Helu carried it once. That’s 118 zone-read looks this season: Griffin has thrown the ball 48 times and run it 27 times, Morris has run it 36 times, fullback Darrel Young has run it three times and Helu has run it twice.

And, because I’m on the topic: The Eagles offered 21 zone-read looks, with quarterback Nick Foles keeping it six times, giving it to running back LeSean McCoy nine times, throwing it three times and giving it to running back Bryce Brown three times. Foles also had one throw called back by penalty.

* It’s remarkable how far Morris was out of bounds on that 9-yard run with 2:28 remaining in the first quarter. I couldn’t see that during the game.

* With 1:41 remaining in the second quarter, the Redskins were able to run a play just 19 seconds after the previous snap. The Eagles were not set defensively, yet Morris gained only one yard on a run. That’s not good.

* Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said last week that with Foles running the offense, the only thing that changes is that he’ll get six yards on a zone read keeper, not the 10 yards that Michael Vick would get. For all the questions about how Foles would fit, he does a good job working within the scheme. Of course, that happens when a player like McCoy is with him in the backfield. McCoy creates so many mismatches and is so slippery it’s a wonder sometimes that he ever goes down.

Three plays that showed McCoy’s talent: with 7:32 remaining in the second quarter, he used a jump-cut to shake Redskins strong safety Reed Doughty in the backfield; with 13:58 left in the fourth quarter, he spun away from outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan; and with 12:22 left, he broke free of outside linebacker Darryl Tapp’s grasp.

The Eagles did a very good job creating separation downfield, primarily because of their use of play action. Of course, that’s going to happen when the Redskins were going all-in on stopping the run – which they often couldn’t do. But the Eagles also worked in a good variety of screen passes and wheel routes, completely opening their playbook.

* Foles completed his first seven passes for 198 yards – an average of 28.3 yards per completion.

* The Redskins got creative with outside linebacker Brian Orakpo’s sack in the second quarter. Orakpo, lined up in the middle of the field, looped around Kerrigan, who occupied right guard Todd Herremans and right tackle Lane Johnson. That left Orakpo free to drop Foles for a 5-yard loss.

* It was noted during the broadcast that Eagles coach Chip Kelly wanted to continue to push the tempo in the second half because the offense backed away from that in the season opener, which allowed the Redskins back into the game. The Eagles did, moderately, but the Redskins still attempted their comeback. At some point, fatigue is going to be a factor, and without the 105-man college rosters, Kelly’s depth is significantly stilted.

* Wide receiver Nick Williams struggled in his debut as a punt returner, but remember that running back Chris Thompson and Morgan did so as well this year. Williams will probably get another shot and has the backing of some influential people within the organization. It’s plausible he finishes out the year in the role.

* The snap counts (Includes plays run but negated by offensive penalties; zero plays means the player only appeared on special teams):

Offense (82 plays): Chris Chester 82, Tyler Polumbus 82, Trent Williams 82, Will Montgomery 82, Kory Lichtensteiger 82, Robert Griffin III 82, Pierre Garçon 73, Logan Paulsen 72, Aldrick Robinson 51, Roy Helu 44, Alfred Morris 38, Jordan Reed 33, Santana Moss 31, Niles Paul 28, Darrel Young 15, Leonard Hankerson 15, Nick Williams 10, Evan Royster 0, Kirk Cousins DNP, Tom Compton DNP, Adam Gettis DNP.

Defense (66 plays): David Amerson 66, Perry Riley 66, DeAngelo Hall 66, Brandon Meriweather 62, Josh Wilson 59, Ryan Kerrigan 58, Brian Orakpo 53, Reed Doughty 52, Barry Cofield 45, Jarvis Jenkins 33, Chris Baker 23, Kedric Golston 19, Bacarri Rambo 17, Rob Jackson 13, Stephen Bowen 12, Trenton Robinson 8, Darryl Tapp 8, Nick Barnett 5, E.J. Biggers 4, Josh Hull 0, Jerome Murphy 0.