Washington leaves London with a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals and yet another week of missed scoring opportunities. There were also missed chances at turnovers, special team mishaps, and questionable play calls. The Redskins staff and players have heard that story over and over again eight weeks into the season, but this is the second consecutive game in which they did enough to win. A team that virtually dominated one entire half of football goes into halftime with just a three point lead and ends the game with neither a win or a loss. So where do we begin with this tie against the Bengals?
The blame could easily be put on the kicker, but if you take a look at the entire game it is not just his fault. Each phase of the team played a hand in this tie that felt more like a loss. Couple the result in London with Dallas beating Philadelphia and it was definitely a tough weekend for both the Redskins and their fans.
The offense has averaged 23 points per game through the first eight weeks, 15th best in the league. Despite racking up a large amount of yards per week, it’s the continuous missed opportunities weekly, the yards have essentially become irrelevant. Washington had four opportunities for touchdowns or a field goal in the red zone this week against the Bengals, yet only one touchdown was scored and a potential game winning field goal was missed. In between the touchdown and the missed field goal was the continuance of ineptitude that has been displayed all year long to this point. A lot of complaints from fans stating the lack of running the ball was and is an issue with this offense, but a lack of success early on in this facet of the game does not determine the outcome of this game. There was way too much to pin it on just the running game.
The offense seems to operate fine in between the 20’s, but it feels as if offensive coordinator Sean McVay has a habit of outthinking himself in the red zone. He has proven to be an effective play caller, but the quality of play calls in the red zone gives many the feeling that he chooses the “out of the box” thinking over simplicity and trusting what has gotten you to that point. After being in the top 15 of red zone efficiency last year, they have dropped all the way to the bottom five in the same category this year. It will most likely be an area of focus not only on the bye week, but the rest of the season as execution in that part of the field plays a big role in the outcome of games.
The defense held their own for the most part, allowing just seven points in the first half. The issue there is that there are two halves in a game. They ended the second half having given up 20 points, which is unacceptable. Still, with the points given up, this defense finished the game with two turnovers. Josh Norman is known to have pretty good hands for a corner back and dropped several interceptions, one could have been a pick-6. These are plays that Washington paid him to make and it is safe to say this was one of Norman’s worse games as a Redskin. When you read “worse”, don’t think of the David Amersons or Josh Wilsons of the world, he’s much better than that. At the same time Josh Norman had five flags thrown on him Sunday, which were legit and he failed to make the plays that would have made up for those errors. The defense as a whole had missed opportunities, but once again this game can’t be pinpointed to one specific area of the team.
Lastly the special teams had its issues, with two missed field goals on the day. Special teams has been a consistent unit for Washington this season, prior to meeting the Bengals in London. Dustin Hopkins has made several big kicks this season, but most are focused on those missed on Sunday morning. While those misses were huge, the Redskins still had an opportunity to take care of business before calling on him.
It may be a hard pill to swallow but it is the truth, the focus of this team has to be on capitalizing on opportunities. Whether it’s field goals, forcing turnovers, or redzone efficiency. Washington has to find something to hang their hat on, until then they are what their record says they are. At the moment, they’re looking up at the other three teams in the NFC East.