ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Now it’s all about waiting for RG3.
The Washington Redskins are on a familiar path, on pace for their eighth last-place NFC East finish in 11 years, and coach Jay Gruden sees failures system-wide as he goes about “trying to get these guys out of a rut” of losing.
“Staying status quo is not good enough, obviously,” the first-year coach said Monday. “So there’s some things we’re going to have to address, whether it’s changing the way we’re practicing, the way we’re meeting, the plays that we’re calling, the defenses that were calling, something.”
An adjustment or two might produce some wins, but, at 1-5 - including three consecutive double-digit losses - the playoffs are probably no longer realistic. Gruden, looking tired after a late-night flight home from a 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, mistakenly said the team was 1-6 and corrected himself by saying he “losing track” of the won-loss record.
“If I had one area, where I could say, ‘Well, we need to improve right here,’ I think we’d have a great understanding of what we need to do,” Gruden said. “But right now it’s a little bit of everything, It’s a little smorgasbord of things that we have to work on and improve on. It’s the quarterback, it’s the running game, it’s the pass protection, it’s the wideouts and their blocking, it’s the defensive line pass rush, it’s the coverage, it’s the linebackers, it’s the special teams.”
With so far to go, the Redskins’ best path to relevance in this season’s NFL world will be the return of Robert Griffin III. Once he recovers from a dislocated left ankle, Griffin essentially will get a handful of games to prove that he truly is a franchise quarterback worthy of a long-term commitment. If he struggles - or gets hurt again - Washington might decide not to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract and could be faced with starting over again at the game’s most important position.
Gruden said Griffin is scheduled to begin working in individual drills at practice this week and could start taking regular practice snaps as early as next week. Griffin likely won’t return until the Nov. 2 game against Minnesota at the earliest, and a more likely scenario has him back for the Nov. 16 game against Tampa Bay following the bye week.
Griffin’s return could have been an afterthought if Kirk Cousins were playing well. Given his best chance yet to prove he should have a starting job in the NFL, Cousins had a big game in relief after Griffin was hurt in Week 2 but has since has been a turnover machine who doesn’t come through in the clutch.
Cousins led the NFL in interceptions with eight after Sunday’s games - even though he didn’t play in Week 1. He had three in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, and Gruden said Cousins could have avoided all three. Cousins’ fourth-quarter passer rating for the season is a substandard 67.3.
Even more glaring is Cousins’ rating on third downs. It’s 39.8. No other quarterback in the league with enough attempts to qualify was below 60.
Nevertheless, Gruden said Monday said Cousins will continue to start, ruling out a switch to backup Colt McCoy for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
It’s a change that might be more logical to make if quarterback were the only position with issues. The Redskins, for instance, finished Sunday’s game without their top three cornerbacks from the start of the season because of injuries.
Well-paid linebacker Brian Orakpo is banged up, isn’t getting sacks and dropped a possible game-changing interception against the Cardinals. The defense has only four takeaways all season, and the team’s turnover differential sits at minus-9.
The running game continues to struggle. Alfred Morris on Sunday had two dubious firsts in his career: No first downs rushing, and no rushes of 10-plus yards.
“We need more from everybody,” Gruden said. “We’re not getting enough from anybody.”
Notes: Amerson (concussion) was the main injury concern from Sunday’s game. He’ll have to be cleared through the league’s concussion protocol in order to play next week against the Tennessee Titans. … Gruden said the two players on the Physically Unable to Perform List - DE Stephen Bowen and WR Leonard Hankerson - will return to practice Wednesday, the first day they are eligible.
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