Robert Griffin III doesn't coach, select the roster or play defense, and he can't instantly cure the injuries. If nothing else, his removal from the equation reinforces how much is wrong with the Washington Redskins.
There were times in Sunday's 49-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts when the Redskins looked like a group thrown together for the first day of camp. Pass-rushers went unblocked. Receivers went uncovered. In too many cases, talent didn't matter because the talent didn't know where it was supposed to be or what it was supposed to do. As the game went on, players lacked what first-year coach Jay Gruden called a "go get 'em" attitude.
"It just goes to show," fullback Darrel Young said, "that all the blame is not on Robert."
On Monday, Gruden and his players looked worn down, drained from the sobering realization that there's an overwhelming amount of work to do before the Redskins (3-9) can be a good team. They repeated familiar and tired answers about the need to play with more discipline and focus.
"I am concerned," Gruden said, "because we're in Week 12, and we're still having some of these breakdowns with some key players who we're going to count on for the future."
With Griffin benched because of poor play, Colt McCoy piled up the numbers and finished with 392 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, although nearly 300 yards came in the second half when the Redskins were playing catch-up. He was sacked six times, making a case that Griffin's multitude of sacks weren't necessarily Griffin-specific. McCoy did play well enough to earn another start next week against the St. Louis Rams.
But that's just one game, and it's just one position. The Redskins are on pace for a sixth last-place finish in seven years, and a bit of tinkering here or there won't be enough to reverse that trend.
General manager Bruce Allen, who already didn't have much of a track record as a talent-evaluator, made several questionable moves this year, leaving multiple holes that will be difficult to address in one offseason.
It's also fair to question the performance of Gruden and his staff. If players are consistently blowing assignments, then the message isn't always getting through.
"It starts with me," Gruden said, "and then it trickles down to the coordinators and then obviously the players have got to be accountable. ... You know as coaches, our work is done usually after the Saturday night meetings. Come Sunday afternoon, it's time. They have got to go out and play. You know, they roll the ball out there, they kick it off and it's those guys on the field.
"They've got to go out and make some plays. ... We need leaders to stand up defensively and take them by the throat, make sure they are playing fast — and the same thing with offense."
In particular, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett would appear to be coaching for his job over the final four games. Haslett this year is free from the strict oversight of former coach Mike Shanahan, but the results are similar: The Redskins are 26th in the NFL in points allowed, and on Sunday they became the first team since the 1960s to allow six touchdowns of 30 yards or more in a game.
At least Haslett can legitimately cite injuries as a mitigating factor. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Brian Orakpo are gone for the year, and nose tackle Barry Cofield missed a large chunk of the season. The 22 projected starters on offense and defense going into training camp have missed 37 man-games due to injury.
But the ones who are on the field don't all seem to have enough oomph.
"I just want to see us with a more of an upbeat tempo and more 'go get 'em' type attitude, hunger attitude, run around, fly around to the football," Gruden said. "Defensively, same thing. A lot of times we are looking around, trying to get everybody lined up instead of getting set and ready to kick some tail. Just looks like we're tentative in what we are doing."
Notes: Gruden said it's "not looking good" for S Brandon Meriweather (sprained big toe) to play vs. the Rams. ... DL Kedric Golston hurt his back during the pregame warmups and was scheduled to see a spine specialist. He's also not expected to be ready for St. Louis.
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