Hop into the time machine with me and travel all the way back to February 10, 2008. Newly-hired head coach, Jim Zorn takes the podium in his first press conference. Following a Hall of Fame legend like Joe Gibbs was no easy task, but for Zorn, just getting the team colors correct was hard enough. We should have known when addressed the Skins as the "maroon and black" that something was amiss. The warning signs were there, and early, but we whimsically went along with it, hoping for a brighter day.
Washington fell to 5-7 last Thursday after a fourth consecutive defeat to the rival Dalas Cowboys. The warning signs were all there: dropped passes, turnovers, a special teams gaffe (I suppose that's not so much a "warning sign" as it is "business as usual," at this point); all phases of ineptitude were accounted for...and that was just the first half! The postseason is mathematically alive, but realistically deceased. Who and what contributed to this particular loss, exactly? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the twelfth 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.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the loss)
-Brandon Scherff. He was Pro Football Focus' highest-rated player on the Skins for the contest. That's all I got. The line was mostly trash.
-Zach Vigil. He filled in nicely at inside linebacker as the injuries continued to pile up. That's all I got. The defense was mostly trash.
-Ryan Grant. He had nine targets, catching five of them for 76 yards and a TD. That's all I got. The offense was mostly trash.
Josh Doctson: 1%
His drop in the first quarter was plainly bad, but you know what's worse? That you remember his drops at all. They stick out because he receives less than four targets/game. On an offense low on elite-level talent, he needs the ball more, period.
Josh Norman: 4%
Norman didn't do anything particularly "wrong" this game, he just didn't make any exceptional plays, either. If it's fair to bring up Kirk's contract when evaluating his on-field contributions, the highest-paid player on the defense is certainly not exempt.
Bashaud Breeland: 10%
Speaking of contracts...
Dez Bryant repaid Breeland for his Monday Night lockdown in 2014 by roasting him last Thursday. Breeland's new jersey will read "Twenty-Six Flags."
SpeciaLOL Teams: 10%
Christmas is not for another three weeks, but the return game needs to be returned and exchanged immediately. Tress Way was actually OK punting the ball. Nick Rose didn't have a field goal attempt. As for the coverage unit, hahahahahaha, next slice.
Right Tackle: 15%
Pictured above: Morgan Moses and Ty Nsheke all night.
Jay Gruden/Greg Manusky: 15%
The head coach said after the game that the team wasn't "flat," they just made early mistakes they could not recover from. I believe him. owever, there were many Twitter fingers in the Skins universe that disagreed. I personally think firing Gruden would be a MASSIVE mistake, but it's difficult to put anything past Snyder. I will say this: in the last 12 months the Skins have had three "save the season/keep the postseason alive" games. Week 15 vs the Panthers last year. Week 17 vs the Giants last year. Week 13 vs the Cowboys this year. They were favored in all three. They lost all three.
The defense has now given up 26.1 points/game, which ranks 30th in the league. Some of that is skewed by a historically bad special teams and short fields given up by the offense, but still. There have also been a bevy of injuries on the defense, but still. The defense allowed 169 rushing yards in the first Dallas matchup, but that was against Ezekiel Elliott. Surely, they were better with him on the sidelines, right? *looks at boxscore. sees 182 rushing yards. jumps off cliff.*
Kirk Cousins: 15%
With the end of another potential shot at January football now here, I've found myself in more "should we pay Cousins $1,000,000,000,000" arguments than usual. To be honest, I'm Kirk'd out. As usual, Cousins made some great throws and he made some poor ones. The Skins will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years and the quarterback had three turnovers versus a defense that just gave up 400+ yards in the air a week before. Let's cool it on the "he's indispensable" talk.
Jamison Crowder: 30%
I'll give this to Crowder: he doesn't fail small, he fails spectacularly. He volleyball-setted Kirk's first interception off his hands in the first quarter. Not to be outdone, he bumped the ball out on a later punt return. He had a big catch-and-run later in the contest, but our fate had been spiked into the land of L. Crowder is now in his third year, and many thought that was the year he made a leap, but he sure has been weighed down with a lot of #slices in the Skins' losing pies.
#SundaySlices will return following Sunday's damn near meaningless matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. If you have any slice suggestions, send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter.