ASHBURN, Va. (AP) It’s a common lament heard around the Washington Redskins these days: The team is simply not coming up with many big plays.
The forced turnover or drive-ending sack by the defense. The long touchdown pass by the offense.
In sum, the momentum-swingers that can mask a club’s deficiencies and make a real difference in the outcome of an NFL game.
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”You’ve got to have guys make `splash’ plays,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. ”Those kinds of plays can change the course of a game.”
During its 1-2 start to the season heading into Sunday’s game against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, who also are 1-2, Washington has not been able to get those sorts of significant moments very often.
Kirk Cousins has yet to complete a pass of 40 yards or more. He has only three TD passes.
The one kickoff return for a score was meaningless, coming late in a game in which Washington already was way behind.
The defense has produced four sacks and managed to collect a grand total of one turnover in three games.
Add that to the six turnovers the offense has committed – four interceptions by Cousins, along with two fumbles by rookie running back Matt Jones – and the overall margin of minus-5 is second-worst in the league.
”Takeaways … change the game. Turnover margin is huge in the National Football League. It’s something that is stressed and talked about,” first-year Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. ”We’re going to keep doing it, and they’ll come.”
In Washington’s most recent game, a 32-21 loss to the New York Giants, of all the mistakes his players made, coach Jay Gruden found the lack of what Kerrigan called ”splash” plays the most worrisome.
”What bothered me the most is we did nothing to recover,” Gruden said.
”The best way to recover from poor penalties or turnovers is to make some things happen on your side of the ball. We just never did that. That’s the most frustrating. We’ve got to do a good job of being resilient as far as (understanding that) bad things are going to happen. … (Opponents) are going to make their plays, and when they do, we’ve got to make sure we bounce back and make our share, our lion’s share, of plays,” he added. ”We just didn’t make enough. We didn’t make hardly any that changed the course of the football game, unfortunately.”
So far, Barry has not been big on sending a lot of extra rushers and using blitzes to try to create extra pressure, one way NFL teams will try to increase their chances of getting sacks or producing turnovers.
”When you go zero-coverage and you blitz seven people, of course your odds of taking the ball away probably go up. That’s a reward. But there’s a bunch of risks that go with that, also,” Barry said.
”That’s where I’m a firm believer that there’s no, `OK, on my call sheet, we need a takeaway, so I’m going to call this.’ We’ve got to have the mindset, no matter what the heck we call, we’re always ball-aware. Our job is to take that dang ball away and get it back for our offense. We have got to do a better job of that right now.”
Notes: Former Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) sat out practice again Thursday, and while Gruden said he’s ”not officially out yet,” the Redskins’ top deep threat is not expected to play Sunday. ”You like to have your receivers and quarterbacks get some work during the week,” Gruden said. ”He is a special football player, and if he says he can go, there’s a chance he could go. We’ll see.” … With CB DeAngelo Hall (toe) out for at least three weeks, the Redskins’ other starting CB, Chris Culliver, missed practice Thursday with swelling in his knee. ”Anytime a guy doesn’t practice on Thursday, there is a level of concern there,” Gruden said. … Also sitting out Thursday was LB Perry Riley Jr. (left calf), who missed last week’s game.
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