#SundaySlices Week 5: A Week to Weak League

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” Since moving to Southern California, I can honestly (and braggingly) say that I don’t see clouds very often. But, when I do, I’ve yet to see any precious metal-hued outline around them. Which is to say: that cliché is bullshit. 

Washington was unable to weather the storm of offense the Saints rained upon them Monday night, losing by 24 (not surprising), losing in front of a national audience (not surprising), losing with a chance to string together an anomaly of two whole wins in a row (not surprising), losing after an extra week to prepare (not surprising) and losing while looking confused, listless and uninspired—OK, that’s a little surprising...and alarming. 

Sound off the sirens, put on your cynical and snark-tinted reading glasses and sink into the fourth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, 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.

MISSING INGREDIENTS

(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the loss...they were very difficult to find this week).

-Fabian Moreau. Seems crazy to put any member of the secondary in a positive light, but Moreau was solid. He also is beginning to perfect his version of the Peanut Tillman “punch” on ball carriers. Would be nice if we fell on the fumbles more often. 

-Jordan Reed. One catch on two targets. Before last week, the Saints ranked at or near the bottom in every pass defense metric. To 

under-utilize a weapon like Reed is a fireable offense. 

-Da’ron Payne. Payne recorded his second sack of the season and forced a fumble. Cool. 

THE PIE

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The Pass Rush: 5%

More like the “past” rush. 

Remember when Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith used to strike fear in offensive tackle’s hearts, as they attacked with power and precision off the edges? Maybe, I’m imagining that, but I’m fairly certain it’s happened before. Kerrigan recorded a sack and got held (not flagged) on two other rushes, but was mostly invisible. Smith, even in a walk year, couldn’t get high pressure if the jet stream pushed him. The only person more upset with 94 than coaches and fans is his agent. 

Side note: is Ryan Anderson still on the roster? 

The Offensive Line: 10%

The offensive line was offensive. They couldn’t find a block at Legoland. Alex Smith may as well have been Santa Claus taking pictures at the mall, because as soon as he snapped, people were in his lap. Let’s take some quick inventory, shall we?

-Watching Trent Williams get beat on the edge was like seeing Superman bleed. 

-Chase Roullier played like he was Danny Rouhier (though, he was probably just as “funny”). 

-Tony Bergstrom should’ve just wore Shawn Luavao’s jersey. 

-Brandon Scherff was in style: turnstile. (Nah, let me chill. He was PFF’s top-graded Guard this week for the entire league).

-And Morgan Moses, well...

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Josh Norman: 15%

Look, what a man decides to do with his free time in the bye week, like say start a new TV show, is his business. Football doesn’t last forever and I’ll never knock the hustle. 

*Stephen A. Smith voice* HOWEVER, when you’re the highest-paid cornerback in the league, 30 years old and a Chatty Patty on Twitter, you better bring it on the field. 

This ain’t it:

Alex Smith: 27%

If you want a detailed and nuanced analysis of Smith’s performance from Monday night, you should definitely check out Mark Bullock:

If you want shit talk mixed with bitterness, settle in right here. 

QB1 played more like QBdone during the latest in a long trend of Monday Night Massacres. It wasn’t that he was mostly abysmal at finding receivers on the intermediate and short routes, he was also more terrified to go deep than a kid who can’t swim. 


The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to compare Smith to his predecessor and I get it. But, we're four games into the season and even the slightly-less cynical side of me wants to let things play out a little longer before making declarations. That said, like seeing a bratty kid tethered to their parents at the mall, the leash is mighty short.

Smith's long-term success with Washington is intrinsically tied to someone and he does not even suit up...

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Jay Gruden: 43%

One percentage slice of the pie for each point given up Monday feels about right. New Orleans, specifically this high-octane offense iteration of New Orleans, is always a difficult place to play. In reality, when each of us looked at the schedule back in April and performed our ritualistic "that's a win/that's a L" ceremony, nearly everyone would have pegged this for a loss. Losing happens. It's the NFL and every team has talent. Losing like THAT, though?? Nah, fam.

It's not so much bothersome or worrisome that Washington got "blowed out" (copyright: Emmitt Smith) on Monday as it is that once again, they had an extra week to get ready for it. As I know very well from childhood: a delayed spanking is a spanking nonetheless.  


I have opined in this column, on twitter, in multiple group chats and to anyone within earshot at the bar many times: I think Gruden is a good NFL coach. But, after a game like that, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just trying to speak something into existence that may not be. I've become that friend trying to sell you teas or oils or vacations who just can't wait to sell you on their idea and business model which just happens to resemble a pyramid. "I know you've seen other Grudens, but TRUST ME, this one's better!"

It's not just the confusing playcalls, the constant time mismanagement or the erratic postgame press conferences; it's a gumbo of all of it. We are now in year 5 of the 

Gruden Administration and if he wishes for there to be a year 6, he can start next week by not listening to SWV

NEXT SERVING

#SundaySlices will return following Sunday’s contest against the Carolina Panthers. 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.