This past Sunday’s game against the New York Jets got off to a good start for the Redskins with two young offensive players continuing to show development. Fred Davis caught a long pass to put the Redskins in scoring range and then Roy Helu ran it in. Helu had a good first half and finished with 100 yards on 23 carries. Most of those yards came in the first half as the Jets figured out how to stop Helu and the Redskins were unable to adjust.
Adjusting in the second half has been a problem for the Redskins all season long. They are able to be competitive for a half. Consistently this season anything that was working in the first half of the game has ceased working in the second half of the game. The Redskins coaches either can’t figure out that they need to adjust or they lack the personnel to make those adjustments.
With the run game working well in the first half the Redskins tried to turn to the passing game. There was a stretch in the third quarter were four consecutive drives ended in a punt. The Jets then kicked a field goal followed by a Helu fumble and a missed field goal, and finally four more drives resulting in punts before a Redskins field goal. It was during this lull in the action that the Redskins had the opportunity to take advantage.
Instead of that happening the Rex Grossman continued to make puzzling decisions with the football and on more than one occasion was lucky the ball only bounced off a Jets defender. Grossman finished the day 19 for 46 with 221 yards and 1 interception, and the Redskins as a team were 5 for 16 on third down conversions. Winning is not often done through having a quarterback complete less than 50% of his passes or as a team converting on 31% of third downs.
The Redskins offense being bad is nothing new. The surprising result was the defense falling apart so substantially in the fourth quarter. For three quarters this was a hard fought close game that spent much of its time either having one team in front by three or with the game tied. In the fourth quarter the Jets pulled away on two big plays.
With the Redskins having just taken a 16-13 lead with 7:56 left in the game the Jets got the ball at mid-field after an odd short kick-off by Graham Gano. On the fifth play of that drive Santonio Holmes pulled a double move that fooled both the Redskins corner and safety and caught a 30 yard touchdown pass in stride. It was a disheartening touchdown, but should not have been the end for the Redskins.
Needing to recapture the momentum Rex Grossman threw two incomplete passes before being sacked and fumbling the ball. The Jets needed only two plays this time as Shonn Greene scored his second touchdown of the day. The Redskins were able to add a field goal just as the two minute warning arrived and then attempted an onside kick that the Jets recovered. This time Shonn Greene only needed one play to score a touchdown and what had been a close game turned into a blowout.
If this season is about finding pieces for the Redskins then there are positives from this game. Roy Helu once again had a 100 yard game on the ground and added 42 receiving yards for 142 total yards on the day. Helu is becoming a player to watch and someone on offense that the Redskins want to get the ball in the hands of. Fred Davis continued his breakout season by having 99 yards on 6 receptions. On defense Perry Riley continued to look like a solid addition to a linebacking core that includes Kerrigan and Orakpo.
The Redskins backed the Jets up against a wall and the Jets responded like a team near defeat that isn’t ready to give up. The Jets are fighting for their playoff lives and do not intend to go down easily. They likely are going to have to win out to make the playoffs in a touch AFC, and that looks like what they plan on doing. The Redskins played a good game defensively for 45 minutes, and are starting to find some pieces for the future. This was the type of game that should be expected in a rebuilding year.