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I do give Locklear credit for his willingness to answer reporters’ questions after the game. Same with Montgomery. It’s not easy to account for performances such as Sunday’s, but they were generous with their time and thoughtful. That goes a long way for us scribes.

QB JOHN BECK: No quarterback is going to play well when he’s under the intense fire Beck was Sunday, but he often didn’t help himself. My take on Beck’s role in each of the nine sacks is shared below. He had a chance to avoid two by throwing the ball away.

Neither TE Fred Davis nor WR Donte Stallworth was open on the interceptions Beck intended for them. Davis never separated from S George Wilson, but Beck tried to sneak it in. Wilson undercut it. Stallworth tripped underneath a fourth-quarter deep ball, but he was double covered anyway. Overall, Beck’s deep throws were inaccurate. He missed WRs Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson on others, and they weren’t close. Hankerson, in particular, separated a bit from single coverage for a chance to make a big play.

Beck fumbled when he kneed the ball out of his hand during a scramble. That’s the type of play that ends up on an NFL Films blooper reel. And on that play, he missed WR Jabar Gaffney running open on a deep cross.

There were some fleeting positives. Most notably, I applaud his toughness. He got pounded and shrugged that off after the game. His 17-yard throw to WR Terrence Austin on a corner route that converted third-and-3 in the second half was perfectly placed and timed.

Beck’s potential learning curve was a topic all offseason, so let’s see how much he grows from Sunday’s pains.

RT JAMMAL BROWN: With injury-related upheaval on the left side of the offensive line, the Redskins need to be able to rely on the right side. Brown has been to the Pro Bowl, albeit as a left tackle, and ideally would provide that stability. However, he was inconsistent throughout Sunday’s game.

LB Chris Kelsay beat him for a sack. Kelsay also put Brown on his backside during a pass on second-and-3 in the first quarter. Brown stood tall off the snap, and his base broke down. Kelsay got into him with superior leverage.

WR ANTHONY ARMSTRONG: I was eager to see Armstrong in a starting role because he was effective last season. His straight-line speed is one of few dangerous elements the Redskins‘ offense has at its disposal. He did not have a positive impact on the game, however. He was targeted four times and didn’t catch a pass. He appeared to stop on a third-down crossing route on which QB John Beck expected him to keep running. He didn’t separate from the corner on the deep route he ran down the left sideline in the second half.

He did get behind the defense on the opening play of the game, running through double coverage, but Beck opted to check down. Armstrong strained his hamstring earlier this season, so perhaps he’s still working back from that. The Redskins desperately need him to be a threat, and that requires him to make plays on a variety of routes, not just vertical ones.

OBSERVATIONS

There’s no other place to start than the nine sacks, so let’s review them. It’s important to remember we’re not privy to all of the Redskins‘ protection schemes, play concepts and route designs, so sometimes it’s impossible to know the root of the breakdown.

This might hurt a bit, but it’ll be over before you know it …

1. First-and-10, BUF 16 (7-0, 12:30 2Q). Seven-man protection vs. 5-man rush. QB John Beck probably should have thrown it away. The Redskins faked a run to the right, and Beck rolled to his left, which was the short side of the field. He had three options. WR Anthony Armstrong ran a vertical route down the left sideline. He didn’t beat CB Drayton Florence while he was on camera, at least. TE Fred Davis began the play with his hand down next to the right tackle. He ran a cross at about 10 yards; there was at least one safety nearby. WR Jabar Gaffney broke off his quick slant from the left at about 3 yards and then slid back toward the left sideline. He was flanked by CB Terrence McGee and LB Nick Barnett. Without having the benefit of the overhead coaches’ film, Beck’s decision not to throw to a receiver leads me to believe he didn’t think anyone was open. So instead of holding onto it while the defense converged, he probably should have chucked it out of bounds.

2. Third-and-16, BUF 22 (7-0, 11:48 2Q). Shotgun; 5-man protection vs. 7-man rush. RB Roy Helu released on a pass route instead of staying in to help the outmanned offensive line. The Bills overloaded the left side of the defense, while FS Jairus Byrd showed blitz late on the right. Perhaps Helu did not recognize the weakness in the left side of the protection. Perhaps Helu is a hot option for Beck on that blitz. Whatever the case, Byrd ran right past Helu in getting to Beck only 1.6 seconds after the snap. That’s not enough time for any quarterback.

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