When the ground game never gets going and your receivers are missing in action as they have been for the first month of the season, it turns out it's pretty difficult to put points on the board. Conversely, when your defense practically begs the home team to start off hot by picking up penalties on three early 3rd down plays to keep drives alive, you're going to face an uphill battle. And if both of those things happen at the same time to the same team ... well ... you get a blowout of epic proportions.
This game wasn't competitive for very long and it had as much to do with what the Redskins weren't doing as it did what the Saints were doing. Redskins defenders showed zero discipline as they took selfish fouls to keep New Orleans on the field. And, let's not forget, coming into the game, the Saints were averaging 34 points and more than 400 yards of total offense per game.
Had the Redskins simply been able to limit them to their average showing, it might not have been too embarrassing. Alas, this one turned into a rout, the kind that all too often occurs during primetime games. Had the Saints actually tried to run the score up, rather than being content to just hand the ball off a dozen times in a row just to keep the 4th quarter clock running, New Orleans honestly could have scored 60. I'd make a joke about the Redskins being the homecoming opponent, but it hurts too much because this franchise actually tries to have a homecoming game each season.
Alex Smith looked like a big bag of average tonight. The receiving corps continues to collect a paycheck while rarely collecting passes. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson both suffered injuries during this game. Trent Williams and the offensive line looked uncharacteristically beatable during Monday Night Football. And Jordan Reed was allegedly also involved in this particular game. Or so I'm told.
In all seriousness, the Saints followed the blueprint set forth by the Colts earlier this season and blitzed early and often. Just like during Week 2, the offensive line struggled to handle the additional pressure and the entire offense sputtered as Smith took sacks and/or missed his intended targets. Why would any team in the league would stray away from this concept when facing the Redskins? Until they show they can make teams pay for overloading the line of scrimmage, expect more of the same.
Simply put: With two weeks to prepare, the Redskins had a chance to send a message to their division rivals and to secure a statement win. That didn't happen and things are only going to get more challenging moving forward. No one in the visitor's locker room should feel good about their performance on Monday Night Football. Lord knows many 'Skins fans take it personally when the franchise lays an egg like this one. Hopefully more than a few players conduct some soul searching and really dig into why this happens as frequently as it does when this franchise is asked to play before a national audience.
It's been a while, but I'm thrilled to be back on the sidelines providing coverage of the burgundy and gold. It's been two weeks since we last saw the Redskins in action, and while a Week 4 bye week is generally awful, this one might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Several important players -- to include Adrian Peterson and a few members of the offensive line -- are already nursing injuries, so a little rest and recovery is never a bad thing. Additionally, every other NFC East team has completely fallen apart while the Redskins enjoyed their time away. The Eagles, Giants and Cowboys have gone a combined 1-5 the last two weeks, vaulting Washington to the top of the divisional standings without even taking to the field.
If they'd like to remain in first place in the division though, they're going to have their work cut out for them. I'm not sure if you know this, but Drew Brees is good at football. And with roughly 200 yards passing tonight, he'll surpass Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history. The locals are fairly certain Brees will lock up that honor before halftime. And with the sheer number of weapons at his disposal, they might not be wrong.
Michael Thomas might not be a household name, but he's having as solid of a season as any wideout in football. Ted Ginn Jr. wasn't much in Miami, but he's a fairly solid deep threat when Brees is involved. Mark Ingram returns from a four-game suspension to add depth to the backfield, which already boasts the ridiculously talented Alvin Kamara. In short, this offense is built to win shootouts, if need be.
And with the Saints' defense, that's always a possibility. For the Redskins to emerge victorious, they're going to have to finish drives with touchdowns and avoid turnovers. Settling for field goal attempts and/or being careless with the football is a recipe for disaster. You might recall that roughly a year ago the Redskins held a two touchdown lead late into the fourth quarter ... and they still found a way to blow the game. Because Brees and Kamara were that good.
Two offensive players I'm watching tonight are Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Peterson spent about a month in New Orleans, before he was shipped off to Arizona amidst rumors he didn't have it anymore. Safe to say while he doesn't hold any ill will towards his former team, he'd still be happy to show them what they're missing. For Thompson, the Superdome is where he suffered his season-ending injury last season. Obviously he'd love to have a productive evening and leave New Orleans healthy and happy with a victory.
On defense, I'll be keeping an eye out for Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen. Both defensive linemen have gotten off to a strong start this season and their ability to generate pressure in the backfield will go a long way towards determining how successful the defense is against Brees and friends. The Redskins desperately need the front four to win their battles, so they can have extra defenders drop back into coverage. If they need to send six or seven defenders to get to the quarterback, it's going to get ugly.
Speaking of ugly, the last two players I'm hoping to see plenty of are Jamison Crowder and Ryan Kerrigan. Both are key players at vital positions. Neither has gotten off to the start they hoped for. If one or both of them makes an appearance on Monday Night Football, that'd be huge for the away team.
This is my third trip to New Orleans. The first was the dawn of the RGIII era. The second was last season's epic collapse. If nothing else, I think it's safe to say tonight's game is going to be memorable, one way or the other.
The Redskins declared the following players as inactive:
o No. 18 WR Josh Doctson
o No. 30 S Troy Apke
o No. 32 RB Samaje Perine
o No. 39 CB Adonis Alexander
o No. 74 T Geron Christian Sr.
o No. 77 G Shawn Lauvao
o No. 99 DL Caleb Brantley
No. 13 Maurice Harris is expected to start in place of No. 18 Josh Doctson at wide receiver
No. 66 Tony Bergstrom is expected to start in place of No. 73 Chase Roullier at center.
No. 73 Chase Roullier is expected to start in place of No. 77 Shawn Lauvao at left guard.
· The Washington Redskins lost to the New Orleans Saints, 43-19, on Monday in front of an announced crowd of 73,028 people at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
· The Redskins forced a fumble late in the second quarter and have now forced at least one turnover in all four games this season and eight consecutive games dating back to Week 14 of last season.
· Quarterback Alex Smith connected on 23-of-39 passes for 275 yards and one interception for a 69.9 passer rating. Smith also recorded one rushing touchdown. It was the 15th rushing touchdown of Smith's career.
· Running back Kapri Bibbs recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
· Running back Chris Thompson finished with a team high six receptions for 45 yards (7.5 avg.) and now has hauled in 155 career receptions with the Washington Redskins. Thompson has now passed Kelvin Bryant (154) for the sixth most by a running back in franchise history.
· Wide receiver Jamison Crowder finished with four receptions for 55 yards (13.8 avg.).
· Wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. hauled in four receptions for 50 yards (12.5 avg.).
· Wide receiver Maurice Harris made his first career start and recorded his first reception of the season.
· Harris finished with three receptions for 47 yards (15.7 avg.)
· Wide receiver Michael Floyd made his first career start as a Washington Redskins.
· Linebacker Mason Foster finished the game with a team high 10 tackles (six solo). Foster has now recorded double-digit tackles for a third consecutive game. The streak is the longest of his career.
· Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan made his 116th consecutive regular season start, the longest active streak among active NFL linebackers. Kerrigan has not missed a start in his NFL career.
· Kerrigan remains as one of six NFL players (and only three non-quarterbacks) to have started every game since the start of the 2011 season (Brandon Carr, Patrick Peterson, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford).
· Kerrigan registered a sack for a loss of eight yards. He has now recorded 500 career sack yards.
· Defensive lineman Daron Payne recorded one sack for a loss of six yards and now has two sacks on the season. Payne finished the game with four tackles (three solo), two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
· Linebacker Pernell McPhee appeared in his 100th career game and returned a fumble 24 yards to help set up a Redskins score in the second quarter.
· Cornerback Fabian Moreau recorded his second forced fumble of the season and finished with five tackles (three solo) for the game.
· Kicker Dustin Hopkins connected on a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter and has now recorded six career field goals of 50 yards or more. With the field goal, Hopkins has now recorded the third-most field goals of 50 or more yards in team history.