Rookie QB Robert Griffin III could not overcome 10 dropped passes from his receivers against Steelers. Getty Images
The Washington Redskins seem hell bent on two things: slouching toward mediocrity and defying my predictions no matter what they happen to be. I would have put a third thing -- play exciting football -- but they doused that with a desultory performance in the Pittsburgh rain.
I've seen a fair number of stats tossed about in the aftermath of this latest defeat, but the key one is this: 10. That's the number of Robert Griffin III throws that hit his receivers in the hands and ended up as incompletions. That many drops is a preposterous stat that should be enough of an embarrassment to every Skins receiver that they spend an hour a day with the Juggs machine.
Look, we already know DeAngelo Hall and the Skins secondary can't cover. It was disconcerting to see the moribund Steelers rushing attack repeatedly gash Washington's front seven, but they've been gashed earlier in the season. What they could rely on all season was running the ball and heroic play from Griffin. But if the receivers can't hang onto the ball, there's no amount of Griffin heroism that's going to make any difference.
A few observations about Sunday's game:
Via Twitter @dandalyonsports speculated that Santana Moss may be dropping passes because he's not getting the ball enough. The difficulty there: Moss has actually been targeted 37 times -- tied with Fred Davis for the team lead. It's tough to single Moss out considering so many other receivers also have The Drops. They need Pierre Garcon back. Without him, they don't have a #1 pass-catcher to attract defensive attention. Maybe some more snaps for Aldrick Robinson? He performed well filling in for Garcon against the Saints, but has seen less and less playing time as the season has worn on. Against the Steelers, he got just 14 snaps.
I've been on the "get rid of DeAngelo Hall" bandwagon for...well...basically as long as he's been with the team. He's reputed to be a "playmaker," but last I checked a corner has to be near the receiver to make a play on the ball. And his competitive fire always seemed more faux-competitive to me. He wants to win, but he's the front-runner competitor, not the "fight you to the death" kind. I hope he's not in burgundy and gold next season.
I've been critical of right tackle Tyler Polumbus this season, but his play has been solid the past three weeks after an awful start to the season. Polumbus and right guard Chris Chester combined to allow just one QB hurry against the Steelers. The left side of Washington's line has been good all season and Will Montgomery has been better as well.
London Fletcher's toughness and determination is admirable, but it might have been better for the team if he'd sat this one out. Fletcher's play has been a notch or two below his usual standards, and he missed three more tackles against Pittsburgh. That's his total from ALL of last season. Perhaps even more worrisome was how easily he got blocked in the run game. Maybe it's the injury, maybe it's age, maybe it's the balance thing. Regardless, he's not the same as he had been, and that's a worry for Washington's defense.
Kai Forbath missed an extra point that was, according to Mike Shanahan, way too low. He did make two field goal attempts, but he needs to fix that PAT issue -- those should be automatic.
Griffin gained 8 yards on 6 carries Sunday, his 2nd lowest total of the season. The lowest: 1 carry for 7 yards against the Falcons. He's still on pace for 952 rushing yards this season, which would be one of the highest QB totals in league history.
I'll be back later in the week -- assuming Sandy hasn't destroyed the planet by then -- with half-point grades.