The plane slowly finishes taxiing from the seemingly unending runway and saddles up next to an already-arrived jetway. As the roar of the engines dim to inaudible levels, there is a polite-sounding "boong" on the overhead speakers and then it happens. The simultaneous cacophony of unbuckling seat belts. The stirring of disheveled parents, gathering their children's toys, bottles and judging by the incessant screaming heard throughout the flight, pacifiers that clearly did not garner the desired result. In unison, dozens of passengers join together in Voltron-like formation, all with one common goal: to stand up in their aisle for ten or fifteen minutes, without the actual ability to go anywhere.
You see, whether you're in first class, the exit row--where you have the stringent prerequisite of having to be able to say the word "yes" when asked by a flight attendant--or in a middle seat in row 36, everyone faces the same plight at the conclusion of a flight: you have to wait. Much like the rigors of a 16-week professional football season, nothing happens in an instant.
So when Washington lost its second game in 100 hours, you can understand why so many impatient fans were in a big rush to deplane the season.
Lmao bruh I just searched Jay Gruden... some maaaaaadddd folks in Redskins Twitter— Redskins Rant (@RedskinsRant) November 23, 2018
I feel ya tho, I'm not mad I been at this party for years now lol
Nothing goes better with a leftover holiday plate quite like some coach-hating! To be fair, is it valid? Grab your Cool Whip tub out of the fridge, a plate and your finest fork as we dive into a special, eleventh of sixteen, Thanksgiving edition of #SundaySlices. Your favorite weekly columnist's favorite weekly column, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the loss).
Preston Smith. Operation: Get Paid In The Offseason rolls along for #94. Will it be with his current team? My magic 8 ball is unsure.
Loved the design of the Vernon Davis TD. It's an adjustment on 4 verts, run from Tiger (12) personnel to get Davis on a LB. Davis runs the over from trips. Reed on the back side runs an out, occupying the back side DB, leaving space for McCoy to lead Davis away from FS #Redskins pic.twitter.com/BMa9WgCVrh— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) November 24, 2018
The Tight Ends. Vernon Davis (sort of) atoned for last week's sins, with the longest TD reception of the season for the squad. Jordan Reed sprung back into action, as the uncheckable force of nature at tight end that we know him to be.
Trey Quinn. Two #SundaySlices in a row for Mr. Irrelevant in the positive side. Trey scored his first (hopefully) of many touchdowns in the burgundy and gold, while also chipping the team's longest punt return of the season, for good measure. Washington would like Jamison Crowder to return from injury before the end of the year, no doubt, but his future on the team is very much in doubt at this moment, with such a capable replacement currently on the payroll. (Quick shoutout to Josh Doctson, who led the team in targets and responded with a career-high in receptions).
The Team Name: 1%
The Redskins have now lost on Columbus Day and Thanksgiving this season...oh the irony.— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) November 23, 2018
Daniel Snyder's Timberlands: 4%
Click on the picture. Soak in the absurd oddity of the worst owner in sports, decked-out in the freshest of construction Tims. What does it all mean? And why? I have no answers, only a slice of blame, because screw Snyder.
The Referees: 10%
I PROMISE I will stop bitching about the officiating...right after this week.
By my count that is four blatant, hideous missed calls in this game and obviously it comes the week after the missed Norman call.— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) November 23, 2018
1) no facemask on Colt in 1st
2) Moreau holding call
3) No PI call on the last Colt INT
4) This not being called helmet-to-helmet https://t.co/xlIcJqoKHS
The Run Game: 10%
Yes, there were some injuries on the offensive line (we can say that for damn near every week of the past two seasons), but when The Alien aka Adrian Peterson, is held to under three yards per carry, and even worse, only carries it 12 times in a one score game, there are three very large problems:
1-the winning formula this season has been predicated on ball control. Sucking time from the clock like it was an Everlasting Gobstopper and keeping the defense fresh...that didn't happen Thursday.
2-the team's quarterback hadn't started a game since the United States had competency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; in other words, it had been a while. Setting up play action and rollouts should have been paramount to assist him...that didn't happen Thursday.
3-the ineffectiveness and subsequent abandonment of the run game led to many justifiably loud concerns, raised for and directed squarely at...
Jay Gruden: 15%
A missed extra point, three turnovers and poor tackling weren't coaching issues.— Random Skins Fan (@UnlistedUser1) November 23, 2018
Those mistakes were not coaching issues, this is true. However, if we have to watch one more game where a play takes too long to communicate to the QB, the team burns a timeout and then the following play gains absolutely nothing anyway, verifying the venom spewed by all fans for wasting timeouts needlessly, then...well...nothing really. I'll probably just spend an embarrassing amount of time dissecting it on Twitter.
The fact is, Washington has lost three of four games over an 18-day stretch. That's gonna ruffle some unironically-worn feathers in the headress of fanatics. I had someone tell me Gruden deserved the entire pie this week! Personally, I'm just not there yet. For one, I still think he's doing a good job at scheming guys open:
Here's one more 4 verts from the #Redskins. McCoy initially looks left, trying to manipulate the deep safety before working back to Reed. Safety cheats to Reed the whole way, leaving Davis WIDE OPEN to the left. McCoy works back left, but throws to the outside receiver. Big miss. pic.twitter.com/qNawJGhL7Q— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) November 24, 2018
And second, it's really hard to win when you have three costly interceptions thrown by....
Colt McCoy: 15%
Many fans were less than enamored with Alex Smith and his 62% completion percentage, 6.6 yards per attempt or paltry 85.7 QB rating and while those aren't great stats, Colt McCoy thus far has "hold my beer"'d his way to a 60% completion percentage, 6.4 yards per attempt and a 73.9 QB rating. Yuck.
Short week, no practice, little preparation; I can make some valid excuses for the new QB1 (besides the first interception--there's no excuse for that). If you haven't already, read Mark Bullock's breakdown of Colt's afternoon. In it, there are some signs of encouragement and hopefully a mini-bye week will help out the newest gunslinger.
Some people have gotten the 2008 season vibes (team started 6-2 and finished 2-6), but I'm attempting to stay positive with 2007 season vibes, where Washington lost five of six in the midseason, including a crushing home loss the Sunday following the death Sean Taylor, but rallied behind a BACKUP quarterback (the incomparable, Todd Collins), reeling off four-straight wins to end the season and continuing the time-honored tradition of losing to Seattle in the playoffs. We got hope! (Some of us WAY more than other):
If Colt McCoy take us to the playoffs and wins us a playoff game I will get his name tattooed on my ass— CarolB (@AllDayAPszn) November 18, 2018
Zach Brown and Mason Foster: 15%
"Brown & Foster" sound like a real estate conglomerate who will sell your home at a "competitive" price, but end up screwing you on the back end. Washington's version of Brown and Foster are a group who suddenly can't help in run support anymore, while also screwing you on the backend of pass coverage. Washington has given up nearly 18 football fields worth of real estate...errrr...yards in the past four games and the two inside backers have been as culpable as any players on the defense. Until they tighten up, running backs like Zeke Elliott will continue to foreclose their homes.
The Secondary: 30%
Dallas's primary target made Washington's secondary look elementary. It wasn't just the broken plays, missed assignments, confusion in coverage or general malaise, it was the tackling.
Swearinger- If you’re gonna be a good defense you gotta be a good tackling defense— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 23, 2018
The Captain is correct. "Bend but don't break" was the mantra a few weeks back when playing Tampa and having 500+ yards dumped on their heads, yet only giving up three points and it was fine. But, two losses and 54 total points given up later, there's bending AND shit-ton of breakage.
Washington is top-7 in the NFL in total points allowed, sacks and interceptions. While that's a vast improvement over years past, the team's offensive limitations means that it's just not enough.
Everyone in the secondary can play their part.
-Norman: shadow the opposing team's top corner, don't talk about the fans unless you're gonna produce, and perhaps put your headphones back on at halftime
-Dunbar: get healthy and get some new cleats
-Clinton-Dix: are you still on the team? Seriously
-Stroman: you're a 7th-rounder...I'll let you slide a bit
-Swearinger: be the leader the team needs and for God's sake, stop talking to the press when you're in an emotional postgame state.
Thursday was not the most fruitful of holiday pigskin performances, but I did want to take this opportunity to give thanks for all of those who have read this column the last two seasons. Whether you're here to laugh, here to support, here to criticize or here because you're bored, thanks are given. Even if the team we love doesn't always comply.
#SundaySlices will return following Monday Night's divisional battle against the defending Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles. If you have any slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter. Should you feel the need to add snarky commentary about pop culture, sports or politics into your life, you can also follow @slimceeVA—and you should.