- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2019

ASHBURN — DeSean Jackson was confident his former team would fold. 

The Eagles wide receiver recalled Sunday how at halftime, with Philadelphia facing a double-digit deficit, he told teammates the Washington Redskins “probably thought they had the game sealed and won.

“Being in that locker room, I know how they are,” said Jackson, who played for Washington from 2014 to 2016. “Not saying anything bad about them, but that’s just how they are.”

Standing at his locker a day after the Redskins’ loss, in which Washington did collapse in the second half as Jackson predicted, running back Chris Thompson disagreed with his former teammate.

At the same time, Thompson understands the perception.

“As long as we don’t change that, that’s what people are going to be able to say and going to be able to think,” Thompson said. “In the past, we’ve gotten good leads and we lose it. Or we have a really good first half and our second half has been bad.

“So until we change that, everybody has their right to say that, for sure.”

As the Redskins prepare for this week’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, addressing the recurring second-half letdowns will be a priority. 

Sunday’s loss boiled down to two simple post-halftime Redskin realities: A defense that can’t get off the field and an offense that can’t stay on it. 

“A total team loss,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

The problems are nothing new. Last season, the Redskins’ offense scored just 11 touchdowns in the second half of games — tied for dead-last in the NFL. Further, Washington didn’t score a second-half touchdown until Week 5 of last season (Oct. 8 at New Orleans). The Kansas City Chiefs, by comparison, led the league with 33.

Worse, Washington’s offense failed to score a second-half touchdown in half of its games in 2018.

The Redskins did score in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia — a garbage-time touchdown with six seconds left in the game. The Redskins managed only four drives after halftime — three of which resulted in a three-and-out.

“It’s eerie,” Gruden said, comparing Sunday’s collapse to similar offensive and defensive meltdowns last year. “I have to count on the coaches doing a better job and the players doing a better job, period.”

On defense, the Eagles’ long drives left the Redskins exhausted. Talking to reporters later, cornerback Josh Norman said he was still tired. Philadelphia ran 44 of its 75 plays in the second half, scoring on four of its five drives. The fifth resulted in a kneeldown to end the game.

If the Redskins don’t fix their problems on third down, expect another long day this Sunday.

Washington converted just 5 of 13 (38%) third down attempts — while the Eagles went 11 of 17, for 65%. Quarterback Carson Wentz was an astonishing 12 of 13 for 197 yards and three touchdowns — good for a perfect passer rating — on third down.

Penalties are again part of the pattern. 

After being the most-penalized offense in football last season, the Redskins had eight offensive penalties — trailing only the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. Offensive linemen Donald Penn, Morgan Moses and Ereck Flowers led the team with two each.

On Washington’s three punts in the second half, two of those drives featured penalties to put the Redskins behind the chains. Fittingly, there was even a penalty on a third, but Philadelphia declined it because it came on third down.

“With everything that happened, we definitely have to put that on ourselves and take the onus on it because we control the narrative,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “If we are able to go out and execute and stay focus and do everything we are supposed to do then we will be favored. But (against the Eagles), we could not capitalize on that.

“We have to get back into the lab, put it all together and learn from our mistakes.”


• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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