In short order, the Redskins have fallen from 3-1 and early-contender status to 3-3 and reeling, injury-plagued team. There were redeemable aspects of John Beck's first start, and he appears to be a quarterback with some upside going forward. But the biggest concern with the team now is that several key players have fallen in the past two weeks — something that will prevent them from competing this season in the wide-open NFC East.
The PFW Spin
In the past two weeks, the Redskins have lost OLG Kory Lichtensteiger for the season, OLT Trent Williams and TE Chris Cooley for an indeterminate amount of time, RB Tim Hightower for the year and WR Santana Moss for 5-7 weeks if Monday's reports are valid.
Many deep teams would have trouble sustaining those losses and remaining competitive. Teams that lack depth the way the Redskins do, would be devastated. Add London Fletcher and Oshiomogho Atogwe to the list of walking wounded, and the Redskins are in some trouble.
Season-crushing trouble? We'll see. But is this team suddenly going to rise up and claim the NFC East, which temptingly hangs in the balance? The guess here is no — not with this many ailments and this few quality reinforcements.
Let's start with what the Redskins lack right now:
- A running back who can pick up the blitz and barrel through defenders (which was Hightower, although Ryan Torain has shown flashes in these areas).
- An anchor left tackle (until Williams returns).
- A center (with tallish, angular Erik Cook — who had a rough game — starting).
- A slot corner (which has been a problem since Carlos Rogers left the team).
- A make-you-miss receiver with great hands (now that Moss has a broken hand).
That's a lot to replace considering the team already has a replacement quarterback in Beck and an offense that already is teetering between being a ball-control scheme and an aggressive, push-the-envelope outfit.
There also is the matter of the defense, which clearly is improved over last season but suddenly is ranked 20th in interceptions and tied for 22nd in rushing yards per carry allowed (4.6).
The next two games provide unique challenges, too. The Bills, the Redskins' opponent in Week Eight, can move the ball systematically down the field with the run and pass and on defense have a knack for making picks (the Redskins rank 30th in interception percentage, and Beck had two Sunday, although nine of those picks belong to Rex Grossman). And in Week Nine, the hard-pounding 49ers will repeatedly test the Redskins with the run game until they show they can stop it consistently.
Over the next two weeks the Redskins either will be a surprising 5-3, a middling 4-4 or an expected 3-5, which would reflect all the losses they have taken lately.