Redskins' offense has hit a bump in the road

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Photo - Richard Lipski/AP
Robert Griffin III and the Redskins averaged 28.7 points in their first seven games but have scored only 25 points combined in their last two.
Richard Lipski/AP Robert Griffin III and the Redskins averaged 28.7 points in their first seven games but have scored only 25 points combined in their last two.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

The offense rolled along for seven games, putting up points and piling up excitement. With a star rookie quarterback and star rookie running back, the Redskins had flash and substance, and more importantly, they produced.

Except for the last two weeks. The Redskins, who averaged 28.7 points in their first seven games, have scored a combined 25 in their last two.

They're still averaging 25.1 points per game, which, if it continues, would be their highest total since 1999 (27.7). But they now face questions: Have defenses found a way to stop this offense? Or is this just a bad stretch?

"We have to get our blocks down no matter if they know what's coming or not," left tackle Trent Williams said. "We missed plays. ... You can say they're catching on, but I don't think that's the case."

Nor does his offensive coordinator.

"I've been in spots where you just feel you can't move the ball or get anything going," Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "I don't feel that way at all now. I'm still confident in our guys. It's about results."

And the results haven't been there. That doesn't mean teams have necessarily caught up to the Redskins' offense, but they have exposed some aspects. The Redskins lack consistent offensive playmakers downfield, for example.

The Redskins dropped anywhere between seven to 10 passes vs. Pittsburgh, depending on how they're classified. Not every miss was a clean drop, but four killed drives, forcing punts, and others cost them time if nothing else. Last week the Redskins committed eight penalties for 60 yards on offense.

"Just shooting ourselves in the foot," Williams said. "We had openings that could have gone for six maybe three or four times this past week. Pittsburgh same thing."

The Redskins dropped passes vs. Carolina, too. But as was the case vs. Pittsburgh, there were plays to be made that weren't. On one, quarterback Robert Griffin III ran a bootleg to the right with receiver Aldrick Robinson, who needed to be more patient at the line, running a deep post. As Robinson broke wide open -- nobody was within seven yards -- Griffin stopped to throw. But pressure arrived, and Griffin pulled the ball down and ran for 6 yards. He made a positive gain, but a shot at a touchdown was lost.

Another difference: The Redskins have averaged 4.5 yards per play the past two weeks (they ran 75 plays vs. Carolina and gained 337 yards). In their previous seven games, the Redskins averaged 6.3 yards or more per play six times. And their lowest average during this time was 5.1 vs. Cincinnati.

Part of that stems from a lack of consistent playmakers with receiver Pierre Garcon and now tight end Fred Davis sidelined. Perhaps that's why they have scored touchdowns on only two of their last six trips in the red zone, where playmakers are at a premium.

But another factor is playing from behind. Against the Steelers, the Redskins trailed 20-6 at halftime. Last week vs. Carolina the deficit was 14-3. They faced 15-point deficits in the fourth quarter vs. both teams.

On Sunday, the Panthers could stay with a four-man rush late, knowing the Redskins had to pass. And that enabled them to play seven in coverage.

The result? The Redskins ran 27 plays in the fourth quarter, and only three gained more than 10 yards. Free to focus on the pass, the Panthers recorded three sacks in the final 15 minutes.

The Redskins can return to a potent offense. They just can't keep falling behind. And they must take advantage of opportunities that were prevalent the past two games.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner