Losing to the Eagles was manageable. They were a talented but under-performing team that matched up well with the Redskins weaknesses. It happens.
Losing to Carolina was a bit tougher as the Redskins played poorly in every phase of the game and were generally manhandled, but much of the damage was done Cam Newton and Steve Smith, and there's no shame in getting beat by those two guys. It was distressing that so many other phases of the team failed as well, but it's the kind of speed bump that mediocre teams like the Redskins experience during the course of a season.
But this shut out loss to Buffalo... well this is pretty hard to take. Buffalo is playing well this year so losing to them isn't a shocker. But I was absolutely not anticipating a total collapse like what we saw today. And as troubled as I am by the poor defensive showing, John Beck looked much worse than even the most Beck-skeptical could have expected.
There's simply no excuse for giving up nine sacks to a defense that Football Outsiders had ranked 20th in DVOA coming into the week. The offensive line did not play well. However - and I reserve the right to change my mind on this after reviewing the tape - I think most of those sacks go on John Beck. In many of the cases where the protection broke down it did so slowly, and Beck showed absolutely no awareness of when it was necessary to either get the ball out or escape the pocket. Mobility doesn't help you if you lack the pocket presence to know when and how to use it.
It seems that Beck can be a good rhythm passer when his first read is open. When the scheme works just right Beck is coming out of his bootleg right as the receiver makes his break to get open, and Beck hits him. But when he has to move beyond that first read, everything about Beck's game seems to slow to a crawl. And today it's clear none of the receivers were getting open. Whether the blame for that lies with Kyle Shanahan or the receivers themselves is an open question.
I suppose a little perspective is in order. John Beck has now played only nine quarters of regular season football since 2007. He's almost like a rookie, and there's certainly a chance (though not a certainty) he could improve with time. For that reason, I disagree with the people who want to see Rex Grossman back in the starting job already. Beck at least deserves another week or two, if only so we can know for certain that he is not an option moving forward. But his performance today was indefensibly awful.
As for the nonexistent running game, it appeared that linemen were regularly just getting plain old beat at the point of attack and letting plays collapse. There were some times when I felt Torain was having his habitual failures of vision and creating losses, but the true post mortem on the run game will have to wait until I can dive into the Tivo.
Just as a reminder of what is in store, the Redskins face the 49ers - 3rd in DVOA - next week.