- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2019

LANDOVER — Case Keenum rose from the grass of FedEx Field and immediately tried to comprehend what happened. As the Redskins quarterback looked toward the jumbotron to digest his second interception of the night, fans around him started chanting.

“Has-kins,” the crowd yelled, clamoring for the team’s rookie quarterback. “Has-kins.”

On a night when hardly anything went right, the Redskins were humiliated Monday in a 31-15 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Their quarterback, who had been relatively solid through two games, threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. Their defense, which entered the week among the worst in the NFL, gave up another 298 yards. Combined, the Redskins are now 0-3 — and the franchise now enters a short week facing all sorts of turmoil.

Will Jay Gruden be fired? Probably not, but the same will be asked about defensive coordinator Greg Manusky — whose defense has surrendered 94 points through the first three games. And will the Redksins turn to Dwayne Haskins, who could square off against fellow rookie Daniel Jones in New York?

Despite the crowd’s pleas for Haskins, Gruden said after the loss that he’s sticking with Keenum, who played the entire contest.

Keenum, though, wasn’t happy with his performance.

“It’s all on me,” said Keenum, who passed for 332 yards. “Turning it over that many times as a quarterback — I let my team down. It’s all on me. I really do, I take complete responsibility.”

Until Monday, the 31-year-old was one of the few players who avoided blame for Washington’s poor start to the season. Keenum had done a solid job of making plays down the field, all while protecting the football.

But the Bears are a different caliber of defense, and they had the playmakers to make the quarterback’s life miserable over the course of four quarters.

In the first, Keenum targeted Trey Quinn on a crossing route, but overthrew it — resulting in a pick-6 for safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Washington had hoped to re-sign Clinton-Dix in the offseason after trading for him midseason in 2018, but the safety signed with Chicago instead.

The Redskins, meanwhile, didn’t have an answer for star Khalil Mack. The Bears linebacker routinely blew past Washington’s offensive line throughout the evening and got to Keenum. Mack forced two fumbles — the second of which Chicago recovered.

Keenum tossed two more interceptions, one to Kyle Fuller and a second to Clinton-Dix.

With Keenum less than perfect, the Redskins needed their defense to be flawless. But at this point, that seems like an impossible task. Again, Washington suffered from the same types of problems: breakdowns, miscommunication and missed tackles.

Specifically, the Bears took advantage of what they saw on film. When the Redskins were in man-to-man, Chicago relied on crossing routes to convert easy third downs and score touchdowns. In yet another instance of not being on the same page, the Redskins looked scrambled before a snap on their 1-yard line — and Taylor Gabriel found himself wide-open for the score.

The Redskins even made Mitchell Trubisky, who failed to throw a touchdown in his first two weeks, look unstoppable at times. The Bears quarterback threw for 231 yards and completed 80.6% of his passes.

“We gave up 30 points three games in a row,” said defensive end Jonathan Allen, who had three tackles in his return from a knee injury. “We have not been playing good. You can blame the offense all you want, the defense has let the team down. We’ve gotta step it up.”

Allen said there’s no “secret recipe” to the best defenses in the NFL. He said they play hard, communicate well and execute. Washington will have to do all three to take a leap, something it has failed to do in 2019.

The defense did look better at times, playing well enough for the offense to carve into Chicago’s lead in the second half. They finally generated pressure, sacking Trubisky three times. They even held Chicago to only a field goal in the final two quarters.

But they still have too many flaws, especially on third down. Chicago converted 61% (8 of 13) of its opportunities against Washington, who had the league’s worst third-down defense entering the game.

And despite the Redskins cutting the deficit to 13 points in the fourth quarter, Washington couldn’t convert a much-needed fourth-and-1 with just more seven minutes left. On that play, Keenum tried to jump over the line of scrimmage — only to be denied instantly, fumbling on his way down.

“We have to stick together and that’s all we can do,” Gruden said. “We’re in this together and nobody wants to be in the position that we’re in.”

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

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide