WASHINGTON — Welp … that’s a wrap. The Washington Redskins’ 2017 season is over before its official midway point — so much so, I’m writing the NFL Week 8 Wrap a day earlier than usual.
Sunday’s rainy 33-19 defeat against Dallas dropped the ‘Skins to 3-4 this season, which is a hole we’ve seen them dig out of before. (Remember the 3-6 start before the NFC East title in 2012? And again in 2015?)
This year, however, they’re off to an 0-3 start in an NFC East division that all but belongs to the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles. This showdown with the Cowboys had a lot less to do with nostalgia from a rivalry gone dormant, and more to do with an opportunity to stay alive in the wild card hunt and just close enough to Philly to take advantage if the Eagles somehow fall apart down the stretch. That now looks like a pipe dream.
An epic rash of injuries is the chief culprit for this season going sideways. The Redskins seemingly never had a chance on Sunday; they came into the game without three of their five starting offensive lineman and over the course of the game managed to lose two more linemen (including Shawn Lauvao, their only healthy starter) and two tight ends (which is a big deal for a team so reliant on production from that position). It’s a wonder they mustered 49 yards on 15 carries behind a line that featured guys that were literally just signed off the street.
This injury quandary seems like it’s not going to get better any time soon, either. After the game, coach Jay Gruden intimated Trent Williams might miss at least a couple more weeks with a knee injury described as getting worse, and stud guard Brandon Scherff still couldn’t run when he came to the stadium Sunday. Heaven help us all if Morgan Moses succumbs to the two bad ankles he’s playing on. There’s a good chance the Redskins have to start three or four backups — a couple of whom wouldn’t even be on the roster otherwise — for the foreseeable future.
Thus, this isn’t a slam piece on the Redskins. It’s just dealing in reality. The Skins had an early bye week so the only real break they get in the schedule is the mini bye between the Thursday night rematch with the Cowboys in Dallas Nov. 30 and the Dec. 10 trip to Los Angeles to face the up-and-down Chargers. Getting healthy on the fly feels like wishful thinking at this point.
While it’s easy to give the Redskins credit for overcoming the onslaught of injuries to keep it close against the Eagles and Cowboys in successive weeks, their quality of play is far less admirable. They turned it over three times Sunday (four if you include the blocked field goal that turned into a Dallas touchdown) and have a -3 turnover differential this season.
The receiving corps has been lackluster all year (Jamison Crowder’s 123-yard performance against the Cowboys was the first 100-yard game by a receiver) and while Cousins hasn’t been bad (his 13-4 TD/INT ratio is pretty good for a guy who’s been under duress all year), he’s done absolutely nothing this year to reverse the perception that more often than not he comes up small in the clutch (especially with two game-clinching Pick Sixes in division losses). The defense won’t be able to pick up any slack because that unit has been banged up in the secondary and along the defensive line, a fact lost in the attention being given to the devastating injuries on offense.
Maybe I’m calling the time of death a bit early, but the only way the Redskins could save their season is by winning two of their next three, very crucial games: at Seattle, Minnesota off their bye, and at New Orleans — each NFC division leaders with a combined 16-6 record. Considering the Skins are currently 0-3 in division and 2-3 in conference, losing two or all three of those games will effectively end all hope of them making the playoffs as a wild card. Asking a team decimated by injuries to not only field a full roster for those final six games but actually win all of them feels daunting.
So there’s nothing left to see here, folks. The Redskins season is over.
But the NFL Recap is just getting warmed up with this Week 8 beauty.
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