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2024 - Week 6 Redskins @ Cardinals

Blognosticator - Anne the Fan

When I first agreed to write a Blognostication, it was at the start of a new season under a new regime. The team had an up-and-coming, no-nonsense head coach; RGIII had fully healed from his disastrous injury 20 months before; we even had a special teams coach who preached discipline. While I didn’t have terribly high expectations for the season, I also didn’t think that a 3-2 start, followed by a strong push at the end to finish 7-9, was completely out of the question. Sure, I thought, we could win the Houston and Jacksonville games, maybe steal one from the 49ers or Colts, split our division games, and pick up an extra win or two along the way.

Fast forward 5 weeks and we see what a moron I was. The Redskins are currently 1-4 which, for the few of you who actually still care about how this team is doing, is the 2nd worst record in the NFL. Here are the teams who have a worse record than we do: the Raiders and Jaguars. Here are the teams that have the same record that we have: the Jets, Titans and Bucs. The Rams are 1-3. Yeah, we are now just like the teams that we always mock. You know how we always say, “Well, it could be worse. We could be Browns fans. We could be Bills fans.” The Browns are 2-2; the Bills are 3-2 and atop the AFC East.

To be fair, even if I had thought that the Redskins would be this awful this early, I wouldn’t have been able to predict some of the disasters that have struck this team. The injury list seems to have grown exponentially every week to include almost everyone but the ball boy – starting QB, CB, TE, WR, and both NTs – and that’s to say nothing of the guys who are playing hurt. Other problems were actually predicted by more knowledgeable and realistic fans. I just didn’t want to believe those folks. “Oh no, [insert area of concern here] is totally going to improve this year,” I would assure people. “Everything is going to be better.” I’m wiping a lot of egg off my face these days.

So now I have to prepare an opinion piece on this Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Cardinals. It feels like such a futile gesture, like throwing a birthday party for a dog. I thought about trying to make a game out of it for the reader by weaving in Bruce Springsteen song titles, but I wasn’t sure how many Bruce fans are on the board. (Sorry, Boone.) I even thought about ignoring the assignment altogether and sending in some vacation photos instead. But I am nothing if not dutiful.

When the Redskins have the ball. Despite their lousy record, the Redskins’ offense is actually ranked 5th in passing and receiving yards per game; however, they are 21st in rushing yards per game. Arizona’s defense is ranked 31st in passing and receiving yards per game, but 5th in rushing yards per game. Kirk Cousins is currently ranked 6th in passing yards per game and has a respectable 90.9 rating, a 61.3 completion percentage and a 62.8 Total QBR (17th among the 32 starting QBs). At times he has looked extremely poised and decisive; when he’s in “the zone” he absolutely makes me believe that this offense can score at will. DeSean Jackson and Niles Paul are averaging 72.8 and 63.8 yards per game respectively, 16th and 28th in the league; each one has over 300 yards this season. Alfred Morris is tied for 11th in rushing yards per game (69.0) and Roy Helu has done a nice job coming in on third downs and short-yardage situations. But the success of the offense ultimately depends upon the effectiveness of the offensive line play so, yeah. Let’s put it this way: I’ve been writing a Blognostication every year since 2010 and every year I have complained about the offensive line. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. I even thought about airing my grievances this year in a limerick, just to change things up a bit, but I couldn’t find enough words that rhymed with “WTF.”

Looking at the Cardinals defense, their front 7 is still immensely talented despite injuries and offseason changes. However, DE Calais Campbell and LB Matt Shaughnessy will both be out on Sunday; the loss of Campbell, especially, is huge. As for their secondary, their corners are some of the best in the league; Patrick Peterson is expected to play on Sunday despite injuring his ankle in last Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Four of their players have at least 1 interception.

When the Cardinals have the ball. Despite their winning record, Arizona’s offense is ranked 22nd in passing yards per game, 20th in receiving yards per game and 26th in rushing yards per game. Washington’s defense is 10th in passing yards per game, 12th in receiving yards per game and 15th in rushing yards per game. The biggest issue facing the Cardinals this week is who will be playing quarterback on Sunday. Carson Palmer has a 108.4 passer rating with a 64.9 completion percentage; however, he’s been out since Week 2 with a nerve issue in his shoulder. Drew Stanton has a 75.4 passer rating, with a 48.9 completion percentage and a 62.3 Total QBR (19th among the 32 starting QBs); however, he left the Denver game with a concussion and must pass the concussion protocol in order to play on Sunday. If neither are ready, the Cardinals will be forced to start rookie Logan Thomas, who had a 12.5 completion percentage (and a 108.9 passer rating!) in his debut on Sunday. (To be fair, it didn’t help that the Cardinals receivers dropped at least 8 passes during the game.) WR Michael Floyd is averaging 64.8 yards per game, 25th in the league; Larry Fitzgerald is ready to have a breakout game. RB Andre Ellington is ranked 19th in rushing yards per game (59.5), including an 81-yarder on Sunday.

At this point there are so many broken pieces on the Redskins’ defense that I don’t even know what I don’t know any more. I read message boards and news sites every day, and the complaints are wide-ranging: injuries; crummy scheme but good execution or, conversely, good scheme but crummy execution; too much/too little intensity; bad tackling; not enough talent; and so on. And now, in what feels like piling on by the cosmos, there are reports that Perry Riley, Ryan Clark and Brian Orakpo are all questionable for Sunday’s game. Thank God for Ryan Kerrigan, who seems to be a one-man wrecking crew this year. The Cardinals have allowed 9 sacks so far this season; look for Kerrigan to add at least 2 more to his total on Sunday.

Special teams. Really, what can I say about special teams that isn’t NSFW? Well, here’s something: The Redskins are 28th in average yards per kick return leaders (17.5); the Cardinals are actually worse, at 31st (15.4). (However, Seattle was ranked 30th; a fat lot of good that did us.) Also, our punting and field goal kicking have, for the most part, been very good. My only hope is that at some point this season the special teams graduate from being a raging dumpster fire to a simple hot mess.

Could the Redskins win this game? Sure, it’s possible, especially in light of Arizona’s quarterback issues. Statistically, the Redskins match up favorably against the Cardinals, but numbers can only take a team so far; Arizona ranks lower than Washington in almost all categories yet seems to be greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe the Redskins will get lucky and play a Cardinals team that is still hungover from the previous week’s crushing loss. Maybe both Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer will need another week of recuperation and the Redskins will be able to tee off on a rookie QB all afternoon. Or maybe I’ll be throwing the remote through my TV screen by halftime. In previous years I would have had faith that the Redskins would bounce back and win this game. Now I am overwhelmed by hopelessness (which I suppose is better than apathy, the next stage of fan grief). The Redskins have lost 12 of their last 13 games, so why should I expect Sunday’s game to be any different? For me, the only suspense that remains is how large our margin of loss will be.

Final score: Cardinals 21, Redskins 10.
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